The Quantum Leap episode “Miss Deep South” takes place during a beauty pageant in the year 1958. Some of the entry requirements from back then strike us as bizarre today. Signing that you were a virgin was considered normal, for example. Requirements still remain rather strict — especially in U.S. and top-tier competitions — limiting not only age, but also marital status. Some even exclude foster mothers.
Holly Bryar, Miss Sydney Australia 2016, has agreed to share a few of her thoughts on her pageant experience with Quantum Leap Podcast contributor Jessie Neumann. Thank you, Holly!
Do you feel that the current restrictions are still relevant?
Most definitely not. The restrictions limit the competition.
Would you have liked to compete again?
To be honest I went into Miss Sydney with no expectation of winning. I wasn’t exposed to the pageant world up until now, aside from following favourites Jennifer Hawkins and Jesinta Campbell. So winning was a bonus. To further compete would be chasing a dream I hadn’t given thought to! If anything, I can focus my attention on other passions of mine. But sure, I’d have given it a go. Although it’s always nice winning, it would not have been so great walking away 40th.
Did you find being at the high end of the age range (27 for Miss Sydney) to be an asset?
Absolutely! But again, age doesn’t define someone’s maturity either. But obviously at 27 you’ve had life experiences that someone who is 18 might not have, perhaps you’ve moved out of home, graduated from uni and have an established career — so these experiences can often help you see the bigger picture.
The episode featured a shady pageant photographer, badgering and manipulating contestants into having nude photos taken. Are competitors better protected these days?
I’d like to hope so. But you need to be so aware in the modeling industry. It’s like social media; if you aren’t happy or comfortable having your grandparents see it — then it’s probably not a great idea to be posing/posting it! You can usually get a sense if something is dodgy! If there are waver forms, sponsors and reputable guests involved, then you’re pretty safe!
What advice can you give contestants to protect themselves?
- Work with a photographer/competitions that will market your image without the need for nudes or indecent requests.
- Make sure there are sponsors.
- Make sure there are recognisable names/guests involved.
- Make sure there’s relevant publicity.
- Sign waiver forms that you are happy with – read them!
- Have a parent or friend attend the rounds with you, and one who is honest with you if they think something doesn’t feel right.
- Keep you personal life personal. “Miss” titles are a brand.
A category of “Ms.” titles seems to be emerging, lifting many restrictions. Do you believe they might one day replace the “Miss” pageants?
I don’t think they will replace them; if anything they will open it up more and create more pageants. There are so many out there, if the pageant world is where you want to be.
Are there other developments in the future?
In the past, Miss Sydney rarely had a message/focus. But this year was its first in promoting the sustainability message. I think pageants will start to pick up on this and continue to have a message behind them.
What is your message? What does your reign stand for?
Miss Sydney Australia this year is all about promoting sustainability. Other than that you can use the title for helping and supporting any pathway you wish to take.
What else would you like to add?
Thanks for all your support!