A Miss America contestant called out the government at this year's pageant and Twitter is loving it
While society seeks to inform us that beauty and brains can only exist in a dichotomy, the advent of social media has seen more and more women showcasing their talents - all while being perfectly contoured and highlighted.
Case in point: at the 2018 Miss America pageant, Miss Michigan used her self-introduction - typically used to highlight personal or educational credentials - to call out her state for failing to provide its citizens with fresh water, as exemplified by the Flint water crisis.
During the pageant, which took place on Sunday, Miss Michigan used her few seconds of screen time to make a statement. When introducing herself, Emily Sioma highlighted the ongoing Flint water crisis in her home state.
"From a state with 84 per cent of the US fresh water, but none for its residents to drink, I’m Miss Michigan, Emily Sioma," she said.
Back in 2014, news broke that Flint's water supply was highly contaminated with lead after the city switched its main water source to the Flint River. It's thought that nearly 100,000 residents were exposed to dangerous levels of lead, and the crisis is believed to have killed at least 12 people, according to CNN.
While water tests are starting to show that the situation is improving, a full replacement of the pipes is not expected to be completed until 2020. And citizens are still advised to only drink filtered and bottled water.
But although Sioma didn't make it to the top 15, she did win over the internet.
"Miss Michigan should automatically win #MissAmerica for starting with this!" one Twitter user wrote, while another corroborated, "Been rolling my eyes all weekend that Miss America is still a thing but MISS MICHIGAN FOR PRESIDENT."
A third added, "As someone from the Flint area, it makes my heart full whenever someone has the guts to mention it with their platform. It seems like everyone just forgot what happened and moved on. So many places these days, including Vehicle City, need help and the crisis is far from over."
"It wasn't a very spur of the moment decision," Sioma has since told ABC News. "I had this gut feeling that if I didn't make it into the top 15, I would never have a chance to be able to speak on national television about something that was important to me, or to make the moment meaningful. I just really wanted to make sure people understood this isn't just about Flint anymore. It still is about Flint but it's about the communities across the state that are impacted by contaminated water."
As a survivor of sexual assault, Miss Michigan has previously used her platform to address violence against women. Taking to Instagram, Sioma revealed that she staged a protest at her own graduation by wearing an "I survived" cap two years ago.
"Protesting my own graduation was never something I planned, but it is something I will always be proud of," she wrote. "In that moment I found a voice in silence. I found strength through the support of a true friend. I found that even though I was standing alone, I was standing for so much more For every voiceless survivor, I stood. For every survivor, I still stand. I believe you."