Miss America 2010 Caressa Cameron. Courtesy photo.



Anyone who says pageantry isn't a sport hasn't been in one.

Current Miss America Caressa Cameron logs in over 20,000 flight miles a month, and rarely stays in one place for longer than 36 hours. Glamour, makeup and style are all expected from the queen, who travels across the country educating high schoolers on her personal platform of Real Talk: AIDS in America -- which emphasizes how choices young people make can directly influence the rest of their lives.

Miss America manages it all in heels and full regalia, of course.

"It takes a toll on your skin. I'm not going to lie, I get bags under my eyes. When I really need a pick-me-up, I go straight for the bronzer!" Cameron tells StyleList.

Artistry is the cosmetic and skincare sponsor of Miss America, and Cameron cites the cleansing system and mineral-based foundation, eyeshadow and blush as her personal must-haves.

"With the amount of makeup I wear to appearances everyday, my skin doesn't get the chance to breathe like it should. Knock on wood, I've been able to keep it clear with the microdermabrasion scrub. And thank God I have a beauty sponsor - or else you know how the makeup and skincare can really add up!" says Cameron.

Cameron's best efforts aside, pageants have historically been a point of contention for the public. Critics argue that the physical judging format is antiquated, and racy photo shoots like the recent Miss USA lingerie scandal demeans women.

Yet Cameron couldn't disagree more.

"The thing that people really don't know is what happens behind-the-scenes. All they see is the pageant on Saturday night. These women have community service platforms, they're scholars, some are even studying to be doctors and lawyers, and they're using the competition to help pay for what they want in life. Scholarship money has put me through school. I've never had to go to my parents to ask for money along the way," says Cameron, who is studying broadcast communications at Virginia Commonwealth University.

But what about that skin-baring swimsuit competition?

"The swimsuit portion is about being physically fit, not skinny. These are healthy young women," says Cameron.

And at the end of the day, Cameron argues that the value of pageants runs more than just skin-deep.

"We live in a world where there's a serious lack of role models. Little girls say they want to be Miss America, and we want to promote healthy choices for them. If people got to know their state's Miss on their website, I think they would be amazed. And they might even get behind it."

Now that's a sense of optimism worthy of the crown.