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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Sal WiertellaMarch 1, 2024

A ‘model’ student

While many students will be heading to the Superior Dome this Thursday to watch the ‘Cats take on Michigan Tech, one student will be on stage in stiletto heels rehearsing the opening number for the Miss Michigan USA pageant.

Sophomore media productions major Jennifer Skogman is the reigning Miss Marquette USA. She will be competing Thursday in the Miss Michigan USA pageant in Port Huron. She has been competing in beauty pageants since 2003, when she was a freshman in high school. Skogman got involved in pageantry after a friend of hers, who had competed in a preliminary to Miss Teen Michigan, encouraged her to join because she thought it was fun. The next year, Skogman competed in Miss U.P. Teen USA. Although she didn’t win, Skogman was part of a 6-way tie that got into the top 10. As a result, she was able to compete in the state final.

“I had a great time, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” Skogman said. “It’s fun to get all glitzed and glammed up once in a while.”

Skogman said several Miss USA competitors have gone on to have careers in modeling, acting and as news anchors, which is what she hopes to achieve. Skogman’s father, Scott Skogman, said he thinks the pageants are helping his daughter prepare for her future.

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“I think it’s a real good thing for her to get out and into the public eye,” Scott said. “It helps develop her confidence and just gets her accustomed to being viewed by the public.”

Skogman’s father said he doesn’t object to his daughter’s participation in pageants, not even the swimsuit competition.

“We all get judged, she’s just doing it more publicly,” said Scott. “The fact that she understands that she’s allowing herself to be vulnerable like that shows her confidence.

“A lot of people look at that, and they just see it as just a judgment. They don’t see the grueling hours of training and the hard work it takes to get to a competition like that,” he said.

The merits of beauty pageants have been debated for years. Some see them as positive experiences, but others see them as lewd and objectifying. Skogman said she has encountered some negative reactions to her involvement in pageants.

“There are some people who say it’s degrading and ask why I do it,” Skogman said. “I try to explain to them that it builds self-esteem and confidence.”

Skogman said there’s a history of eating disorders in her family, and as a child she had a lot of problems with her image and self-esteem. Competing in pageants has helped boost her confidence, and she has become comfortable putting herself on stage to be judged.

When Skogman decided to start competing in beauty pageants, she said she had a hard time gaining her father’s approval.

“When I first told my dad . he was not supportive at all,” she said. “Both of my aunts on his side of the family had eating disorders, and he was terrified I would go down that route.”

Scott said he did worry about his daughter’s diet. He was afraid she would develop anorexia or an altered body image, so he spent time helping her learn about proper nutrition and making sure she ate a balanced diet.

“She came home once and said she could only eat tuna fish for the next 12 days,” Scott said. “That’s not a balanced diet, and at her age, she could’ve really gotten into trouble eating like that.”

Skogman said she carefully monitors the food she eats. She starts dieting for competitions months in advance, as early as December for her upcoming pageant. Skogman said she wanted to stay away from crash diets, so she decided to diet for this pageant in phases. She began by adding more fruits and vegetables and limiting her portions. At the start of summer, she cut out simple carbohydrates. And for the last month, she has been careful to eat healthy, low-fat meals with a lot of vegetables and complex carbohydrates.

“There’s a level where I know I’m in shape, but I know what my competition is going to look like,” Skogman said. “I just want to get that extra edge.

“I have to run six miles a day just to stay in shape,” she said. “I can’t just eat whatever I want and not exercise and stay fit.”

Sarah Frame, one of Skogman’s past roommates, said although Skogman’s diet may seem extreme, she thinks Skogman would know if she took dieting too far.

“I know that when she’s not dieting for a pageant, she eats just like anyone else,” said Frame. “Especially when it comes to Pop-Tarts.”

Skogman said the best thing about pageants is, of course, winning, but also said she has made a lot of friends over the years, and she hopes the entire experience will help prepare her for a career in front of cameras. Obviously, not winning is the hardest thing about competing in pageants.

“It is heartbreaking to go to the final rounds of competition and come home a runner-up,” she said. “A lot of girls just get tired of not winning and they give up.”

Skogman doesn’t plan to give up though. For her, pageants are definitely more than just a crown and a title. Miss Michigan USA 2009 will win a $34,000 scholarship to Baker College, among other cash prizes and gifts. Baker College bills itself as the largest independent college in Michigan with nine campuses across Lower Michigan.

“I grew up in a low income family, and I’m paying for college on my own,” Skogman said. “It would be nice to get that scholarship, but even if I don’t win, I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished something.”

Because of the rising costs of travel, Scott will be unable to attend the Miss Michigan pageant. Nevertheless, he says that he supports his daughter 100 percent.

“I got to really hand it to her, she went from a middle child with no real ambition or anything, to being a very confident, very level-headed, mature young lady,” he said. “I wish her to ‘break a leg’ and bring home that crown, if not this year, then next year.”

To find out how Skogman places in the competition this week, visit www.missmichiganusa.com.

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