“I started mostly just for fun, but then pageants gave me a platform to talk about things that are really important to me,” said Noone, who began competing at age 18.
“Doing pageants, you don’t always win,” Noone said.“So you learn from the experience. It’s all about improving yourself and really wanting to uplift others. That’s why I’m a title holder. I want to give back as much as I can and be a role model for girls and boys to do anything they want to do.”
All pageant contestants involved in some kind of community service. Noone’s passion to serve was bred in the bones. Her values were engrained early on from her experience helping to raise her two older brothers who were born with Crader-Willi syndrome, a disorder that prevents the brain from receiving signals to stop eating.
“My brothers are two of the most loving people,” she said.“Being there for them while acting as the older sister isn’t something most people do growing up. It gave me a huge heart for people. They’re the reason I go after every opportunity I’m given.”
Noone seeks to call attention to these kinds of disorders in hopes of empowering others to support those with similar conditions. She’s also an advocate for empowerment through self-defense training.
Because her brothers cannot feel full no matter how much they eat, Noone said they became overweight and subject to classmates’ ridicule, which affected her deeply and is part of the reason she is pursuing a career in public safety.
“At a young age, my brothers were bullied,” she said.“As they grew older, I didn’t want to leave them defenseless. That’s why my message to the youth is to go after the things you are passionate about. In today’s world, I want to be an advocate for women, little girls, and little boys, to be educated in self-defense.”
Years of preparation for Miss USA contestants culminates in a two-hour broadcast. To qualify, every candidate must have won her state’s competition. Noone won Miss NJ in October. So,this week,she will fly to New Orleansto spend 10 days with 51 other women,engrossed in pageant and community activities.
Much of the competition takes place off-camera. Before going on the air,contestants will participate in private interviews with a panel of judges and preliminary competitions for swimsuits and gowns.
Once the cameras are rolling, the 52 contestants will show off their gowns and perform an opening number. Judges will then announce 15 finalists who will compete in a swimsuit competition.
The judges will narrow the competition down to 10 finalists who will compete in an evening gown competition. Five contestants will move on to the final question round, after which the judges will announce first, second, and third place winners.
Noone said that she plans to wear an evening gown designed by Sherri Hill, an American fashion designer.
Beauty pageants hold a unique space in the evolving feminist movement. On the surface, the competitions run contrary to a core ideal of equality – that no one should be judged for his or her looks.Yet, in this changing landscape, some women are trying to redefinewhat beauty pageants mean to them, to their peers, and to their communities.
“It's called a pageant, but this is a woman empowerment movement going on,” said Noone. “They look at so much more than physical beauty. It really counts who you are as a person and what you do for others. We all give back to our communities. We all are involved in different organizations and have passions we want to talk about.”
By pursuing a career in a male-dominated field like public safety, Noone said that she hopes to be an example to show “that gender is no longer something that is going to hold us back in the workplace or in life in general.I want to encourage more people to pursue careers no matter if it’s gender dominated.”
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.