Mr. Augustana satirizes beauty pageants

Gabrielle Lenger

Upon reading the words, “beauty pageant,” your instinct is to picture Jennifer Anniston’s shallow character in “Dumplin’,” or Debbie Ryan’s high strung character in “Insatiable.” Stick the word “male” in front, and it becomes a joke.

The Mr. Augustana pageant, held Nov. 7, is a long-standing tradition with the Chi Alpha Pi sorority and raised $2,065.09 for the American Cancer Society this year.

In a climate where feminism is growing and becoming a standard on most college campuses, the Mr. A pageant has had a long reign.

For over 17 years, Chi Alpha Pi has put together a male beauty pageant. Interested men are required to fill out an application, then the board of the event reviews and picks their favorite contestants  to compete for the titles of Mr. Augustana, Mr. Congeniality and Mr. Popularity. The chosen few strut their stuff in the categories of formal wear, talent and swimsuit.

Senior Callie Staker has lots of experience with the Mr. Augustana pageant as this was her third year involved with the production.

“This is all for entertainment. The show is satirical,” Staker said. “The guys are welcome to do whatever they want.”

And the guys did. The swimsuit portion presented the audience with most of the competitors wearing anything but bathing suit material. The high standards that so many women are held to did not apply to the men in this competition.

While the pageant industry is trying to evolve with the new standards of feminism, Mr. Augstana continues to poke fun at old traditions. The swimsuit category is one of the most controversial topics in the professional pageant world.

The Miss America Organization, the oldest and arguably the most respected pageant organization in the world, has eliminated swimsuit from their competition after much deliberation.

This category at the Mr. Augustana competition, however, was the crowd favorite.

“I like making people laugh,” senior Brix Clayton said. “I like making a fool of myself to make other people laugh.”

Clayton is an aspiring surgeon and accidental theatre minor. Clayton went into the competition looking to make people laugh, and he did. His performance of “Defying Gravity” received a standing ovation. Whether the applause was for his vocals or dedication to the role of Elphaba by painting his face green, he came out of the competition the winner.

But, just because the guys are all cool and confident on stage, doesn’t mean there were no nerves off stage.

“This definitely wouldn’t be fun if I wasn’t nervous,” Mr. Popularity, senior Matt Friello said.

For Friello’s talent, he opted to showcase his multitasking skills. He proved that singing and eating at the same time is not for the faint of heart.

To make this pageant truly satirical against the traditional expectations of women, guys do not have to be the only ones challenging the expectations of beauty and poise.

According to Staker, you do not have to be a cisgender man to apply. All gender identities are welcome to compete for the title of Mr. Augustana.

The men were silly, but more importantly, they were silly for a good cause. All of the ticket sales and spare change votes went to the American Cancer Society.

Unfortunately, this year’s fundraiser raised almost half of last year’s earnings and attendance, thanks to the change of trimesters to semesters.

In years past, the date fell on the same day as prospective freshman visited campus.

Last year, Mr. A raised $4,258. This year they raised $2,065.09. The high attendance levels from those years raised double for the American Cancer Society.

The Mr. Augustana competition is purely satire. Students can learn something from the men courageously taking the stage to bare all for applause and charity.