By Thi-Le Vo
Northwest Asian Weekly
On May 24, Christine Nguyen Lynn, who is the current Mrs. Bellevue 2009, competed for the title of Mrs. Washington 2009 at Moses Lake High School. Lynn was the only Asian American contestant in this year’s pageant.
To her knowledge, there has never been a Vietnamese American contestant in the Mrs. Washington pageant. In addition to being a beauty queen, she is a substitute teacher and a mentor for the Children of Promise Organization, an organization that matches up mentors with children whose parents have been incarcerated.
Many people are not aware of the ‘missus’ pageants because they are not as popular and are overshadowed by the ‘miss’ pageants. According to Lynn, the biggest difference between the missus and miss pageant is that “in the miss pageants, the girls are still trying to figure out their lives. As married women, we have accomplished so much and [have] become more experienced.”
Coming from a Vietnamese upbringing, Lynn admits that when she was younger, it was difficult for her to break away from being timid because decisions were constantly being made for her. When she attended college, things began to change.
“I am more independent [now]. When you were younger, you would never question things because things were decided for you. Now that I’m older, I can break away from that. In Asian culture, especially for wives, [people] are set in a situation where they only take care of kids,” Lynn said. She strove to break away from the mould.
When asked how she felt being the only Asian American in the Mrs. Washington pageant, Lynn said, “It’s great, but it’s a double edged sword. If I’m great at something, then it makes you more noticeable, but then if I mess up, it doesn’t work in your favor.”
In addition, Lynn believes that the biggest challenge she faces, as an Asian American contestant, is overcoming her shyness.
“A lot of Caucasians are outgoing,” said Lynn. “In comparison, I had to learn how to break through my shyness.”
However, Lynn believes that she doesn’t have to assimilate in order to fit in with the other contestants because they are open-minded. “You don’t feel like you have to be different — you’re comfortable with being yourself,” Lynn said. “It becomes a sisterhood. It’s more of a community thing where we all try to support each other.”
In many other pageants, stereotypes commonly appear. However, in Lynn’s point of view, she doesn’t face any negative stereotypes against Asians because it is a “more mature” atmosphere.
Lynn believes that Asian Americans are generally not represented in pageants, outside of the cultural pageants, because “it’s much harder for an Asian American to break into. Asians are probably scared. When you compare an Asian and a Caucasian American, it’s different.” According to her, there are different perceptions with the two because Americans are not used to seeing Asian Americans on television or in pageants.
Although Lynn did not win the title of Mrs. Washington this year, she did win an award for her volunteer work.
“This was a wonderful experience in terms of growing, learning about myself and others, and meeting and making new friends,” Lynn said. ♦
Thi-Le Vo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.