There are worse things than forfeiting a tiara.
Melissa King, a young woman from Delaware who in November was crowned Miss Delaware Teen USA (a paragon of respect for womanhood owned by Donald Trump), resigned her sash and crown Tuesday after a porn site published a short sex video purporting to feature her, the (Delaware) News Journal reported. The five-minute film, apparently produced last year, shows a young woman who looks like Bethany Beach 18-year-old, sounds like her, has her birthday and competes in pageants. (King has denied she made the video, but her digital doppelganger seems to pass the “duck test”). The day the video was posted, King’s lawyer, J. Gregory Hannigan, sent a letter to the pageant saying that his client was relinquishing the crown.
Whether the duckleganger is King, or a different young lady with whom she shares similarities, the unfettered exhibitionism of fresh-faced ambitious women today seems a bit bold to me (a veteran of the 1960s notion of ‘free love’). However, I’ve seen enough of “Girls” to understand that uninhibited sexual experimentation is not so uncommon in schoolgirls today, and tolerating humiliation is a healthy sign of an independent spirit.
Youth is full of contradictions. In her senior year of high school, King earned a scholarship for “outstanding achievement in athletics, community services, and academics” to help fund her college education. A year later, the teen in the video took the porn gig because, “I thought it would be fun and I needed the money.”
A foster child from age 12 through 18, according to King’s official Miss Teen biography, she is a now freshman at the College of Philadelphia. Like most recent high school graduates, she is still wondering what to be when she grows up. “One day, she hopes to work for a prestigious fashion magazine in New York City or maybe on the sidelines of an NFL game as a sports journalist!”
The biography also tells us: “Melissa first learned that she was a talented and gifted artist when it was Parent’s Day in Kindergarten. She realized she could cut a perfect circle with scissors when other student’s circles were cut with rigid edges.” Talents and gifts are a great start, but we develop skills to use them only through practice and training.
The abrupt end to her beauty queen reign is no doubt a major setback to her ambitions, but the incident may be an important life lesson for Melissa (and perhaps her 800 Twitter followers). Sometimes, the bigger the mistake, the more potential there is to learn from it.
Perfect circles in kindergarten notwithstanding, it is a known fact by anyone who has ever been one that all teenagers are really stupid. Even for youthful queens and princesses, along with raging hormones, abundant unsupervised playtime and vast inexperience there come inevitable moments of bad judgment. Drugs are often part of the mix.
The good news is: Time is on their side. Character-building challenges are part of the coming-of-age process, and mistakes are recovered from far easier at age 18 than at any other time in our lives. Nothing makes you reassess your priorities more acutely than overcoming the unfortunate outcome of your own blunders.
As for Melissa King, I am certain she has many strengths and that her hard work and thoughtfulness helped get her the temporary tiara. (“Melissa began volunteering in her 8th grade year and fell in love with the joy of helping others!”) She will now have ample opportunity to hone those qualities as she prepares for her adult life. (As Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor might have told her “being princess is not a career.”) Happily-ever-after takes a lot of work.
If it was the beauty queen having sex on camera, it was a bad idea — but she can still have a satisfying and productive life. I hope for King that it will unfold in many surprising and wondrous ways, and I wish her good luck.
Bonnie Goldstein is a writer in Washington. Follow her on Twitter at @KickedByAnAngel.