The Tragedy of Miss USA

Content warning: This story discusses suicide.

            The beauty pageant industry has long been portrayed as a near-perfect dream or as something breathtakingly beautiful. However, when you look closely, you’ll see that pageant competitors’ have near-impossible requirements. Pageants are hidden by a façade of glamor and grace, when in reality they are nothing more than a crude portrayal of society’s beauty standards. The models or representatives of each country are usually skinny and tall, with long hair, impeccable personalities, and few imperfections. They have beautiful bodies, dazzling smiles, and elegant hair; even the way they walk and talk is considered to be perfect. People usually don’t ask questions about what it takes to look like this. What do they have to sacrifice? What goes on behind the scenes at pageants? What happens to the girls after they’re done competing, whether they win or not?

          A dark part of this pageant world was revealed on the 30th of January of this year. Cheslie Kryst, an African-American woman who was born on April 28, 1991, in Jackson, Michigan, and was also known as an entrepreneur, model, TV correspondent, and the medalist who was crowned Miss USA 2019 and a contestant in the Miss Universe competition who placed in the top ten, was discovered dead. Her body was discovered in front of a high-rise in midtown Manhattan. This tragedy came as a surprise to everyone in the pageant scene and those close to Kryst.

          Although it was determined that Kryst had committed suicide, the reason why is still undiscovered. Her mother, April Simpkins, stated that Kryst was dealing with “ high functioning depression which she hid from everyone.” She was seen as an inspiration and a role model to young African American girls. She was a good friend to many. Therefore, though it is quite heartbreaking, many don’t want Kryst’s death to be in vain. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says that depression and suicide awareness are topics that should be taken seriously by everyone whether you are a public figure or not.

          They stated that “suicide and mental health issues do not discriminate, and so it is imperative that we take an uncompromisingly anti-racist approach to improve access to culturally informed, evidence-based quality mental health care”. Showing how mental health needs to be advertised to young and senior generations particularly in the black community. The US National Suicide Prevention (NSPS) line is at 1-800-273-8255. They have also added a new three-digit dialing code, 988, that will route you to the NSPL that will be available starting July 16, 2022 for everyone in the US. Other International helplines can be found at Befrienders Worldwide.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to reach a trained counselor at the Crisis Text Line.