sd The Reality of Miss America – Kira Kazantsev
Kira Kazantsev | The Reality of Miss America
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The Reality of Miss America

It’s been a little over a week since I was crowned Miss America, and what a whirlwind it has been! I’ve already taken two cross-country flights, participated in countless media interviews, and had the opportunity to attend the Clinton Global Initiative’s Annual Meeting where I met some very influential people who are doing incredible things around the globe.

 

It is such an honor to be Miss America 2015 — and to represent the amazing 52 women who I had the privilege of getting to know over 2 weeks in Atlantic City. They epitomize everything that Miss America is about and being chosen from among them is my greatest honor.

 

I’m launching this personal blog to share my year with you because I feel it’s important for people to know what it’s really like to be Miss America. It’s not just one night a year on television — it’s a 365/24/7 job. In addition to all the amazing opportunities that come with the title, it also is a year of personal growth — and challenges. This first week of being in the public eye is not something you can ever prepare for. The positives have far outweighed any of the negativity and craziness that comes with being in a high profile position, particularly on social media. But I’m learning as I go, and I hope to do my best to represent the organization and the title to the best of my abilities.

 

On that note, I’d like to address one specific issue that has popped up in the media. Because what type of role model would I be if I told people, young women especially, that you can’t make mistakes? That’s not real life.

 

When I entered the sorority recruitment process at Hofstra University in Spring 2010, I decided to join a sorority for the social life but I also thought that I was joining a legacy of success and philanthropy. My friends were joining, and for fear of being left out, I joined too. To be completely honest, I didn’t know what I was signing up for.

 

The worst of the so-called hazing was standing in a line reciting information, a few sleepless nights, and crafting. I was yelled at a few times. That year, the sorority got in trouble for those actions and was disciplined by both Hofstra and the national organization. However, after being brought up through that process, my class thought the only way to gain respect in the sorority was to go through it or be seen as weak.

 

Later on, I had the opportunity to be the New Member Educator for a semester. It was a very rewarding experience as you get to connect with the recruits on a very deep level. However, I did oversee some pledging events as part of my job description, similar to those described above. Furthermore, my termination from Alpha Phi surrounded entirely different circumstances and I would like to use this opportunity to further explain.

 

When I was a senior, as one of the older sisters in the sorority, I was asked by a new member educator at the time to send an email to alumni asking them to attend an event. In the email, I joked that we could make the evening scary for the pledges. That statement was a joke – we never intended to actually engage in the wrongful behavior that I have been accused of – and the alumni event I spoke of never came to fruition anyway. But this is when I learned a very important communications lesson that will stick with me for life.

 

The email was forwarded by someone to the national organization. Based on that information, the national office summoned me for a judiciary hearing. At the time, it was the end of the school year. Finals, graduation, and moving to New York City were at the forefront of my concerns. Based on the fact that I did not attend this hearing that was the official reason given for my termination.

 

I was never involved with any name-calling or use of profanity toward a girl during my time with the sorority. I was never involved in any physical hazing or any degradation of physical appearance of any kind. This has all been immensely taken out of context and manipulated purposefully because I am now in a public position.

 

The nameless source that is saying these things is doing exactly what it is that I was wrongfully accused of.

 

Now that I’m 2 years removed from that experience at the sorority, I’ve learned what healthy relationships are, and can better speak to what young girls entering college should avoid and it has further developed my platform, “Love Shouldn’t Hurt: Protecting Women Against Domestic Violence.”

 

I’m also proud to say that Alpha Phi Theta Mu of Hofstra University is an upstanding organization that has completely abandoned these practices and I’m incredibly proud of the work they do as an organization.

 

I understand that it can sometimes be hard for women to help other women. It’s so sad but I see it happening over and over. The Miss America sisterhood has taught me what true sisterhood is. It is a group of women that has elevated itself from that pettiness and is able to be happy for one another instead of trying to tear each other down.

 

I was one of those girls who fell victim not only to the abuse of an intimate partner but the abuse of people who I thought were my friends. In response, I imposed that attitude unto others because I thought it was right. Today, I am proud to say — as I have said before — that I have lived a lot of life in my 23 years. I have made mistakes, and I have made magnificent triumphs, most importantly the one that happened to me on September 14 in Atlantic City.

 

I look forward to sharing my year of service with you and continuing to engage in a dialogue about trading adversity for success. I want to be someone who people look up to as Miss America, and I also want women to understand that despite anything that has happened in your past or the mistakes that may have been made, you have the power to control the outcome of your future.

42 Comments
  • Mary Blackburn
    Reply

    Welcome to the sometimes “hostile” world of celebrity, Kira! You are handling it like a pro! Keep up the great work. We are all so very proud of the way you are navigating the spotlight…especially when it gets harsh. You go, girl! The BEST is yet to come. Mary Blackburn, your AC Hostess Chair

    September 23, 2014 at 2:17 am
    • Tim C. Tatum
      Reply

      Good job Miss America!

      September 23, 2014 at 4:13 pm
    • Patricia Lees
      Reply

      I completely agree with Mary! Let’s move on and focus on the positive! Kira will be a wonderful spokesperson for her platform and the Miss America Organization!

      September 24, 2014 at 12:25 am
  • Too Hubbard
    Reply

    More than just young girls are reading this. I’m a 42 tear old male that has been involved on and off with the MAO for over 20 years. I’ve seen the positive far outweigh the negative. I’m glad that you are taking this head on but also saddened that you have to address it. When you learn, teach. Thanks for taking the time to teach all of America.

    September 23, 2014 at 2:32 am
  • ASC
    Reply

    Thank you for taking the time to address these awful allegations, and thank you for courageously owning up to the truth. I am already very impressed with how you’ve conducted yourself throughout all of the coverage since you were crowned. You are a class act, indeed.

    September 23, 2014 at 2:44 am
  • Jamie Bailey
    Reply

    Kira, thank you for being such a resilient representative of the women in our country. I am so relieved to see a Miss America who is not afraid to be real, to have fun, who stands up for women’s rights amidst criticism from every corner of the country. Thank you so much for your dedication to your fellow women! We appreciate it. 🙂

    September 23, 2014 at 3:22 am
  • Emmalynn Grovers
    Reply

    Thank you, Kira. You are not the only girl to have gone through this horrible situation in a sorority, and hopefully your story will help people to see that things like this do happen. You are an inspiration and a true treasure. God Bless you this year!

    September 23, 2014 at 3:27 am
  • Leah
    Reply

    Way to go, Kira! There will always be haters and you are handling this is a classy and intelligent way. Just keep being awesome. xoxo

    September 23, 2014 at 3:28 am
  • Remember what Gandhi famously wrote, “the way of truth and love always wins.” Sadly, the process takes too long sometimes.

    People are so quick to judge, and some post pages and pages and pages of anonymous libel, without ever considering the violence they are causing with every key they strike. Sadly that is the price that is sometimes paid for newly entering the public arena, in an era where everyone is their own publisher. There are few people who have no regrets about something we did in our lives. Most are blessed with an infinitely smaller audience for our flaws. Many Blessings

    September 23, 2014 at 3:48 am
  • Just another reason why you are and will be such a perfect Miss America. I am proud to have you represent our class of 2015. From getting to know you in Orlando and Atlantic City I am proud to call you a friend and know first hand how false these allegations were. When I was having a rough day during rehearsal one day YOU built me up and helped me refocus on why I was there and what matters – reminding me what true beauty really is. Love you Kira. xo, your forever MAO sister

    September 23, 2014 at 4:30 am
  • Exception way to address the issue! It is quite evident why you were chosen as Miss America. Looking forward to watching your year of service and impact on people of all ages unfold, Kira! You are phenomenal!

    September 23, 2014 at 4:32 am
  • April DuPree
    Reply

    Hazing is hazing, no excuses. For a real stance on hazing, visit hazingprevention.org or search Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for #40answers.

    September 23, 2014 at 11:20 am
    • Drew Kent Brown
      Reply

      Well said …

      September 23, 2014 at 4:20 pm
  • This is exactly why I’m a Kira fan =).

    September 23, 2014 at 2:13 pm
  • Congratulations, and thank you for choosing ““Love Shouldn’t Hurt: Protecting Women Against Domestic Violence” as your platform. This is such an important issue! I survived domestic violence and then published my journal, “Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?” I have thought so much about getting the truth out, and you could be the one to do that. Please let me know of any way I can help. Thank you!

    September 23, 2014 at 2:26 pm
  • Lindsay King
    Reply

    Kira,

    You have already been a blessing to so many though your truth and honesty. I look forward to keeping up with your blog and watching you win through success and determination. People always like to come out of the woodwork when they are jealous, but that is why they are where they are and you are where YOU are. Keep on keepin’ on, Miss America!!!

    September 23, 2014 at 3:34 pm
  • Evelyn
    Reply

    Kira, you are truly a compelling model for women. Your honesty and the learning experience you share carry the day. Wishing you the best.

    September 23, 2014 at 3:56 pm
  • Kira, you are an incredible person. It was such a blessing to watch you perform, and become crowned this month. I love how honest you are in this post.

    As an advocate for domestic violence awareness, I am so impressed with your drive to address your platform issue. Keep up the fantastic work!

    September 23, 2014 at 4:00 pm
  • Drew Kent Brown
    Reply

    To have a platform on “domestic violence awareness” but yet be involved with anything related to hazing does NOT make sense.

    September 23, 2014 at 4:22 pm
    • Jenny Lew
      Reply

      Drew, I beg to differ. It makes perfect sense. When someone is embroiled in an abusive situation, choices and decisions are cloudy by nature. It is not until the victim is removed from the situation that clarity comes, and with clarity, the desire to reach out to other victims who are still in the cloud. Thank you for your honesty, Kira.

      September 23, 2014 at 8:42 pm
    • Rachel
      Reply

      That’s like saying that it doesn’t make since for a past alcoholic to mentor current alcoholics… Every single person has darks spots in their past, overcoming mistakes and learning from them is what a person should be defined by, not the mistake itself.

      September 24, 2014 at 6:51 pm
  • Shaunna Hanel
    Reply

    Kira I think you are amazing for facing this accusation head on. Many people think it is easier to hid from these kind of things and all that typically does is make a person look guilty. We are sadly a country that no longer honors God and the decline in morality has suffered. The majority of people take pride and satisfaction in destroying the character of others. Stay strong and I know that you will represent us well. Congratulations on your title and Good Luck!

    September 23, 2014 at 4:33 pm
  • Sam
    Reply

    Very well written. Congrats on winning and composing yourself as a true Miss America!

    September 23, 2014 at 5:24 pm
  • Avery
    Reply

    What a blessing you are being! In short words, “you go girl”! Can’t wait to watch your wonderful year of service unfold!

    September 23, 2014 at 6:01 pm
  • Kimberly Dale
    Reply

    Kira, you are a woman of great beauty, talent, intelligence, honesty and integrity. Too many young woman are influenced by their peers in high school and college because of the need to be liked and included. We all make mistakes in our youth, but not all of us are woman enough to admit it and take responsibility for it, let alone learn from it. You are just the kind of role model our girls need because they will identify with you and listen to you. I totally support you, and I have been involved with our local and state Miss America program as a judge and local committee member for many years. Carry on, Miss America! I’m proud of you!

    September 23, 2014 at 6:20 pm
  • Sam R
    Reply

    I am a young women in college and I am very inspired by your response to these allegations. There’s nothing more relatable than making mistakes (especially in college) and learning from those mistakes and their consequences. You are an extremely good role model for young women everywhere and I look up to you! Thank you for your honesty and thank you for being such an amazing inspiration. Keep your head up and don’t let those who have only negative things to say cast a shadow over all the positivity that you are bringing to the rest of us!

    September 23, 2014 at 7:02 pm
  • Monet Le'Mon
    Reply

    You handled that so well. I can’t wait to hear what other adventures you go on this year.

    September 23, 2014 at 7:20 pm
  • Angel Garcia Miss Blue Ridge Foothills Teen 2014
    Reply

    Kira I am so honored to call you Miss America. I am a local teen title holder in South Carolina and my platform is stop the silence end domestic violence. At the age of 15 I cannot believe the impact that my platform has had on people. The mayor of my home town signed a declaration making August 20th a day of rememberance for all domestic violence victim’s. I plan on to keep competing in the organization that allows us to give back to our community through service. I was so happy to learn that your platform was domestic violence as well. South Carolina ranks number 2 in ththe nation and number 1 in the South East for women murdered by a domestic partner. Our state has been in the top 17 for 15 years. I hope to one day get to meet you and hopefully we can sit and talk about our platforms. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone deserves a second chance. You are the relatable Miss America and children will be able to relate to you.

    September 23, 2014 at 7:49 pm
  • grace
    Reply

    I love this! You are so transparent and we appreciate that. We have allllll made mistakes or just said or done dumb things. Who cares ?!

    We support you and think you’re great.

    Much love,
    Grace, columbus, Ohio and former preliminary competitor in the Miss Ohio/ MAO 🙂

    September 23, 2014 at 8:27 pm
  • Unknown
    Reply

    Congrats on your win you will do great

    September 23, 2014 at 9:07 pm
  • Pianan3888
    Reply

    Thank you Kia for your transparency. You must continue to manage these and other areas of adversity with the same measure of poise and grace. Stay on the high road. It will never lead you wrong.

    September 23, 2014 at 9:14 pm
  • We all make mistakes. It is when we learn from those moments to not make the action again that we can make positive changes in our lives. I look forward to watching your growth this year as MA.

    September 23, 2014 at 10:52 pm
  • Annette Pettit
    Reply

    It is true that some women cannot seem to help other women. We have so much to offer, it is a shame we cannot help one another to rise as equals in every country. Perhaps outside indoctrination of politics, religions, & family cultures keep some of us from supporting our sisters. When that is the case, those ties should be severed, as you suggest concerning abusive situations. When women make up 50% of our leaders in all areas: education, finance, politics, religion, industry, technology, military…we will have a much stronger world. I am not a feminist; I am a humanist.

    September 24, 2014 at 12:46 am
    • L
      Reply

      Hate to break it to you, but the desires you are describing are exactly what feminism desires as well. You are a feminist. You just don’t like to attach yourself to a word that society labels as “man-hating”. That could not be more wrong. I am a feminist. Feminists love men. I love men. Ignore the outdated connotations. We want to be equal (like you are describing).

      September 25, 2014 at 10:42 pm
  • Walter Haight
    Reply

    Thank you so much Kira for standing up for what you believe in in a straightforward, classy way! As a 15 year supporter of the Miss California organization I can say you’re exactly the kind of young woman the MAO needs going forward to reach the next generation. Just kinda sorry we in CA let you get away…

    September 24, 2014 at 2:30 am
  • Lindsay B
    Reply

    I think what you are doing and what you stand for is incredible. You are making a role model out of yourself and I hate that society operates in such a way that when, often times a woman, gains notoriety through positive and progressive achievements of her own she is torn down with anything that could possibly tarnish her reputation. It is truly unfortunate but you are handling it in an admirable way and I look forward to being able to see you grow through the year.

    September 24, 2014 at 2:40 pm
  • David Weirich
    Reply

    Being a Born again Christian, there is nothing more satisfying then to see a person be transparent, and also be mature enough to testify about it. Kira, you are an amazing person, very mature, bold to stand up for what you believe in. You are very pretty and you will represent America very well in all that you do and will do as Miss America, I could not be prouder to have someone like you represent our country, I can see why you were selected Miss America ! God Bless you !

    September 24, 2014 at 9:39 pm
  • Michele Slowinski
    Reply

    You’re 23 years old, Kira… TWENTY THREE. I’m sure most people by that age have done something that would make them look less desirable. It’s called being HUMAN. You are an exemplary Miss America. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Carry on and spread the word of Domestic Violence and raise awareness like you have been all along. As a former MAO (MISS NYORG) local ED, I’m proud of all our Miss New York Miss Americas.. and I’m especially proud of this article.. Sparkle On Girl!

    September 25, 2014 at 3:45 am
  • Terri
    Reply

    Kira,
    As a victim of domestic violence more than once, I applaud you for bringing awareness to this issue. Learning from our mistakes is crucial to anyone who wants to better themselves. Being honest about our mistakes is crucial to changing our behavior and attitude. Learning to step out beyond the violence is very hard and sometimes scary. Coming to the realization that no matter how much we love someone is not going to change their abusive behavior is paramount in realizing that we have to remove ourselves from the abusive environment. People often question why doesn’t a woman just leave. Abusive people generally use fear tactics, belittling a person, making them feel unworthy, and other mind games as well as usually keeping a victim financially stranded. That makes leaving even harder. Women need to know that there are many resources for abused women, and sometimes we just have to swallow our pride and accept that help. Counseling is imperative in learning more about why we are targets or that we are attracted to abusive people. Stay strong in your convictions and keeping bringing awareness and hope to the abused.

    September 25, 2014 at 7:35 pm
  • Lisa
    Reply

    You are an amazing outstanding woman. You are a mentor to all the young girlss. You have taught so many people a lesson we all learn from our mistakes and grow into exceptional people I love that you are humble and honest and I am proud to say that I am honored that you are resending Miss America you have done hundreds of wonderful things for so many enjoy your reign

    October 12, 2014 at 1:58 pm
  • David M
    Reply

    I grew up in a family that regularly watched Miss America shows. My family preferred the Miss America over Miss USA because of the talent portion. It was just a natural part of life. As I grew older, it felt weird, at times, to be a guy and be a fan, and for awhile began to lose interest. But the last two years I’ve returned to the life long ritual of watching, and I’ve been impressed with the youth of today (geez that makes me sound even older). And while any one of the contestants would’ve made a great Miss America, my wife and I found ourselves rooting for Miss New York. On a serious note, I’ve known too many people who’ve been through abusive relationships. And so I join the others in applauding you for your courage and strength to add awareness to this issue through your openness and through your platform as Miss America. Congratulations on your win, and we wish you great success.

    October 18, 2014 at 9:20 pm
  • Dominico Caporali
    Reply

    To be honeat, I didn’t know Miss America still took place. However, with that said, I would like to say thank you for your willingness to stand up and confront the people who would soil your namesake. As far as I’m concerned, and most people as well, what you may or may not have done in your past is a moot point. Let yourself shine and be a rising tide star to yourself and your family. Never forget where you come from, and forever be true to you. Everyone else will understand.

    March 9, 2015 at 11:28 am

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