Haddonfield Memorial High School junior Alexandra Himmel will be one of 80 contestants in the Miss New Jersey Teen USA pageant Friday, March 17 through Sunday, March 19 in Parsippany.
The pageant – sponsored by the Miss USA organization – has three parts: a private interview on Friday that will make up a third of the score, a preliminary competition on Saturday where Himmel will sport an athletic look and an evening gown, and the final competition and crowning on Sunday.
“It’s been really enlightening to learn more about the pageant world,” Himmel said. “I think a lot of people have this conception of pageants, especially for young people, being a beauty contest.”
She noted that pageants are about stage presence, how the contestants present themselves, and their personal brand.
“People really think they’re (pageants) something they’re not anymore, and it’s really more about who you are as a person and how you present yourself that you’re bringing to the table for the pageants,” Himmel explained.
The Miss New Jersey USA website notes that contestants will be judged on character, poise, confidence and personality throughout the three areas of competition.
Himmel initially heard about the competition from a friend who encouraged her to participate, and she realized it was something in which she was interested. Himmel applied in November.
During the three-day event, the student will compete as a state finalist, having completed an application in November and after passing the initial set of interviews with a state coordinator. Semifinalists will go on to compete in the 2023 Miss Teen USA national pageant on Oct. 1 in Reno Tahoe, Nevada.
For her look, Himmel has made the decision to compete without makeup.
“(It’s) not something that is commonly seen,” she explained. “I’m going more for like a feminist, be-yourself kind of look.”
Feminism is an important issue for Himmel: She serves as president of a school 50/50 club that focuses on promoting gender equality.
“I think my interest in feminism stemmed from an awareness of current events of today,” she recalled. “I happen to read the New York Times every morning, and just countless times, there’s abuses against women’s right to an education, against their right to vote, against their equal access to health care, these repeated issues that keep coming up.
“I think some people think we solved them 50, 100 years ago,” Himmel added, “and they keep coming up and they keep going unseen, unheard and unsolved.”
Himmel is also an officer for the Model UN, a student program that focuses on the United Nations; student body vice president at Haddonfield Memorial; and founder and president of Haddon’s Helping Hands, a borough-wide tutoring program for third to fifth graders.
From now until the pageant, community members can support teen contestants by voting in the People’s Choice Online Award. Bios will be updated during the competition.
To vote, visit https://missnewjerseyusa.com/teen-contestants/.
This article was updated on March 13, 2023.