Senior named Miss Vermont USA

Originally entering pageants as a gift for her mother on Mother’s day, senior Lauren Carter is now representing Vermont in the Miss USA pageant. Carter entered the Miss Vermont USA pageant last year, surprising herself and her family by winning fourth runner-up, Carter said. Carter went on to compete in a pageant this past summer, and again this fall, which secured her the Miss Vermont USA title on Nov. 7. With Vermont not having a winner in the Miss USA pageant since 1955, and no competitor in the top 15 since 1982, Carter said that her interest is in winning Vermont the title, for the first time in more than 50 years. Though Carter successfully presents herself as a very “girly” beauty pageant contestant, she considers herself to be a true Vermonter, she said. “I had never really worn heels or makeup — I was a Birkenstocks-and-yoga girl,” Carter said. “I practiced, went to the pageant, and was fourth runner-up … I had no idea what pageants were all about and learned a lot. I competed this summer in Miss Vermont for the Miss America system and was first runner-up. And here I am now, as Miss Vermont USA.” With a platform of breast and ovarian cancer, Carter said she utilizes her previous experience of working in various nursing homes, hospices and oncology units, as well as knowledge from her current enrollment in UVM’s nursing program, to emphasize her passion for research to eliminate such illnesses. With Carter’s promotion of finding and funding health cures, she works to make individuals realize that winning a pageant requires far more than just a pretty face. “To win, a woman must have it all,” Carter said. “Not just beauty — most girls in the world are beautiful in their own unique way. The winner of a pageant must be a natural leader who is confident, aware of the world around her, intelligent, approachable, warm and charitable. She must be able to play with sick children or hug a dying man, yet also be able to give speeches about breast and ovarian cancer.” The pageant, which is made up of three parts, requires contestants to compete in categories that test them on their interview skills, as well as poise and presentation in their swimsuit and evening gown. The pageant encourages skills such as confidence and public speaking. While Miss USA is often seen as being a beauty pageant, Carter said that she wants individuals to recognize that it is more than that. “Body imaging in our society is so warped, and it is most important to just feel comfortable in your own skin and pleased with who you are,” she said. “Beauty is so individualized. I think it is important to find beauty all around us, every day.” The Miss USA organization, which is owned by Donald Trump, grants the winner of Miss USA the opportunity to compete in Miss Universe. The winner is also awarded $40,000, an apartment in the Trump Towers in New York City for one year and the opportunity to travel and raise money for the breast and ovarian cancer platform.