The nationally televised Mrs. America pageant was a "degrading" experience, Connie Hedrick, the reigning Mrs. North Carolina, said Friday.
The pageant forced the mother of two to wear revealing outfits, including a sexy two-piece bathing suit, and to answer questions about her love life, she said."At this point, I'm very let down. It was degrading. It was degrading to my character," said Hedrick, 32, reflecting on the competition from her Newton home.
Hedrick said she was not told she would be required to wear a skimpy bikini and a tight, low-cut cocktail dress in the pageant until she arrived for the competition held last weekend in Hawaii and televised Tuesday night.
"I'm not ashamed of my body, but at the same time I don't want everybody in the entire country to see me in a bikini," Hedrick said. "I would not even wear a bikini on the beach, being a wife and mother."
Hedrick said she requested a one-piece swimsuit to replace the high-cut pink and blue bikini, but was told they were in limited supply and she must wear the bikini. About 20 of the contestants were given one-piece bathing suits, the rest were required to model skimpy bikinis.
Hedrick did not advance to the final rounds of the pageant, which was won by 21-year-old Jennifer Kline of Minnesota.
In addition, Hedrick said she was ordered to wear a short cocktail dress with a low neckline.
"You see a lot of cleavage," she said.
Hedrick said a questionnaire required by the pageant also made her feel exploited. Questions asked contestants included what room other than the bedroom was their favorite place for romance and if their husbands were the best kissers they'd ever had.
Hedrick won the Mrs. North Carolina pageant in Wilmington in July where she wore a one-piece swimsuit and a long evening gown of her choice.
"That was a very positive experience," she said.