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Miss Connecticut Winner Shavana Clarke's History-Making Win Followed by Drama

Stacey Addo | Arts and Entertainment Editor

Shavana Clarke/ Instagram/2024

The Miss CT USA pageant took place on April 14, 2024, and the newly crowned Miss Connecticut is making history in the pageant space. Shavana Clarke took the crown on the stage last week. 

From Bridgeport, the first generation Jamaican-American she is also the first openly lesbian woman to be a Miss USA state title holder. As an alumnus of UConn, she received a BFA in acting and went on to perform in numerous off-Broadway shows. Now she works as a sales coordinator, model, and entrepreneur. Shavana’s own mental health struggles also inspired her to create #YourMentalHealthBestie to share her experience with Borderline Personality Disorder in hopes of helping others feel less alone. To help her anxiety she started crocheting and started her own business and even made her own outfit for the swimsuit portion of the competition. 

After the competition, a fellow contestant, Gabriella Vigorito posted a video expressing her frustration with losing the competition. She talked about it being a smaller number of competitors compared to the previous years she competed, and yet she still only placed in the top 11, unlike previous years where she placed much higher. She claimed there was no real competition. 

Vigorito who recently appeared on the TLC show “Smothered” with her mom, cited her large platform, the show, and the numerous opportunities she got from it as why she was deserving of her win and that she believed that the judges simply didn’t want to hand her any more success. She said, “I could’ve done so much good for this struggling organization.” Unsurprisingly, this statement rubbed many people the wrong way especially those who actively compete in pageants or who have competed in the past. While Vigorito stands by her statement and is considering competing in another state, her statement comes off as entitled and diminishes the women who were competing beside her, especially Clarke.

When many of us think about pageants, people like Gabriella Vigorito are who come to mind: clearly wealthy, elaborate dresses, an over-the-top personality, which in itself isn’t a bad thing, but also with it is usually associated with the stereotype of self-absorbed and spoiled behavior. But over time pageants in many systems, while still a major part, have placed less emphasis on the physical beauty and more emphasis on who the contestant is as a person and how they will represent the organization. They even changed the interview to make up 50% of the contestants' entire score.  Many organizations are no longer looking solely at glitz and glam, but for someone who can be a role model that women can look up to. 

This is not to bash Vigorito and while she is allowed to be upset, this video did not need to be publicized. The fact that she belittled the other women to shed light on her own accomplishments and why she should’ve won, makes me (and many others in her comments section) happy that Clarke will represent Connecticut in Miss USA.


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