Raise your hand if YOU LOVED BARBIES as a little girl.
Now raise your hand if you’re a 34-year old who cried when Dumbledore died.
Go ahead and judge.
I LOVED Barbies. I would sit for hours in my room, living out an imaginary day for my dolls in their fantastic Barbie dream house. To this day, when a little girl I know has a birthday, I pick out a Barbie for her gift. It’s an American classic, but not without controversy. Some say these dolls are a poor representation of what women should be, an unfair lesson taught to little girls about who they should strive to become.
Ironically, many say the same things about pageants. While I certainly cannot speak for all of them, I would argue the merits of the Miss America Organization outweigh the negatives. I challenge those who hold stereotypes about the women and teens who compete to get to know them, learn what they are doing in their communities, find out what they are doing right now as the Miss Nebraska and Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant draws ever so close.
Or, keep reading.. and meet the girl from Alliance who could teach Barbie a thing or two.
MISS NORTHWEST’S OUTSTANDING TEEN 2015 CHEROKEE PURVIANCE
“The [stereotype] that I see a lot is that the girls who are in pageants are unintelligent Barbie dolls who only care about their appearance,” Cherokee told me recently. “I am a young, beautiful and intelligent girl who values her appearance but values her education more.”
I just want to reiterate what Cherokee said.. I am a young, beautiful and intelligent girl. Now THAT is what I like to hear!! Confidence, articulation and clear priorities radiate from this young woman. She’s been guided by strong female leaders her whole life, including several Miss Nebraskas and Miss Nebraska contestants.
Cherokee meeting Miss Nebraska 2011 Kayla Batt-Jacox the night she won the state title, and meeting Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan when she attended Miss Nebraska. Cherokee was 11 years old.
“My piano teacher is Sue Dimmitt. Her daughter Megan Dimmitt did pageants and I grew up watching her on stage,” said Cherokee, pictured above with Megan at the Miss Nebraska pageant in 2011; click here to read my profile on Megan when she served as Miss High Plains 2014. “When Sue asked me if I wanted to do that someday, I said yes.”
Becoming a local titleholder offers Cherokee an opportunity to pay forward the life skills she took from other important women in her life.
“My biggest supporters include my mom, my godmother, Jerry Mathistad, and finally, Krista and Chloe,” said Cherokee. “Krista Blumenthal was and in a way still is my dyslexia tutor and is always there to help if I need anything.”
DYSLEXIA; Cherokee sees words differently than many of us, a disorder making reading especially difficult. She is now working to make sure other children get the help she received, creating images and flyers to spread awareness of dyslexia.
“I have been talking to as many parents as I can about the warning signs of dyslexia and where to get their child tested,” said Cherokee. “Right now, I am working on a fundraiser to get children tested for free who may not have the money to do so otherwise. i want to raise as much money as possible by October, which is Dyslexia Awareness month, then we’ll reward a few children with the opportunity.”
Cherokee has also taken part in several community activities as Miss Northwest’s OT, including the Chadron State College Homecoming parade and the Miss America Free Cone Day to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network. She’s only 15 years old, and she’s done all of this in addition to activities at Alliance High School including show choir, drama, tennis, golf, art club and upward bound club.
“Outside of school I attend four dance classes a week, take piano lessons and teach piano lessons of my own,” said Cherokee. “If there is ever a time when I’m bored I just sit down and paint.”
A young lady with a sense of style, adding she’s proud of the fashion sense that makes her unique. (“Audrey Hepburn is my fashion icon!” said Cherokee.) However, evening gown isn’t what Cherokee likes most in this whole pageant experience.
“My favorite part of competing in the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant would have to be the months leading up to the pageant when all of the contestants get to know one another and form friendships,” said Cherokee. “The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen pageant brings out the best in all of the girls who compete and that is what I love about it.”
Let’s think back on why we all played with Barbies in the first place. Barbie herself, while beautiful, was the plastic perfection we all wish we could be sometimes, right? Always smiling, hair and makeup always in place, and no lie–a body that is always in great shape? YES, PLEASE! But here’s the thing (at least for me), I didn’t ever think about that stuff as a little girl. I wanted to change their outfits, to play ‘house’, to act out the dreams and adventures I wanted to have myself. Maybe Barbie was driving somewhere in her convertible. Maybe she was heading to work. Maybe she was taking care of her baby. And I’d argue what my Barbie did was different than every other little girl’s.
Each of the young women competing for Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen has different goals, dreams and messages, yet they are all great representations of the ‘inner Barbie’ in all of us. Cherokee’s sweet smile blossoms from her happiness within. She’s a young woman standing tall from her confidence and drive. A 15-year old with the whole world at her fingertips and gorgeous, powerful women leading her way.
“Even though I’m only 15, I try not to let my age get in the way of what I want to do with my life,” said Cherokee. “All I want to do is make a difference in the world. I don’t know what it will be yet, but it will be awesome.”
You know what sounds awesome? More awesome than Barbie? MISS NEBRASKA’S OUTSTANDING TEEN. Cherokee and 10 of Nebraska’s best arrive in North Platte to compete one week from today.
Follow Miss Northwest’s Outstanding Teen 2015 Cherokee Purviance and contact her for appearances and events on the Miss Chadron/Miss Northwest’s Outstanding Teen Facebook page.
For more information about how to become a contestant, contact Director Riki Hunter at 308-430-4355 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant will take place June 5, 2015 in North Platte. Click here to visit the organization’s website or the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Pageant on Facebook and on Twitter.
To read more about the Miss Nebraska’s Outstanding Teen Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.