By Teresa Ambord
In one fell swoop, a beautiful bombshell knocked some wind out of two long-held stereotypes. The new Miss USA is an accountant. That's right, Erin Brady of East Hampton, Connecticut, works as a financial accountant at Prudential Retirement in Hartford. Or at least she did until a few days ago when she was crowned Miss USA.
Brady showed the world beauty and brains are not mutually exclusive. She also showed them what we in the world of number crunchers knew all along . . . accountants come in all shapes and sizes. They aren't all pale. They don't all wear dark suits, sensible shoes, and pocket protectors. The women don't all pull their hair back into buns, à la Marian the Librarian. And some – usually the females – just might put on high heels, glittery gowns with plunging necklines, and let down their long manes of silky hair.
And the stereotypes come crashing down
Not exactly the picture America has of a trusted financial adviser, but that is Miss USA, twenty-five-year old Erin Brady. She majored in finance at Central Connecticut State University. In a pre-pageant question from the media she said her favorite subject in high school was math, not cheerleading 101.
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Her minor in college was criminal justice, a side of her that also was revealed during the pageant. As part of the event, she was given a controversial question, which she answered without missing a beat. When asked if she agreed with the Supreme Court's decision to swab the cheeks of arrestees to collect DNA, she said, yes, they are lawbreakers.
"If someone is being prosecuted and committed a crime, it should happen. There are so many crimes that if that's one step closer to stopping them, then we should be able to do so."
A whim, maybe . . . but a long time coming
Brady entered the pageant on a whim, according to her family. But were they surprised? Not really. Her father said while she was always math oriented as a child, she was also a glamour girl, intrigued by beauty contests. She and her sisters liked to play beauty pageant, parading around the backyard as if they were on the runway. So although stereotypes suggest beauty and brains aren't always a natural combination, for Brady it's just who she is.
The new Miss USA did say she hoped her participation – win or lose – would help dispel the myth that beauty contests are for the brainless. She told an AP reporter she wanted people to realize a woman can be beautiful and smart and aware of more than just the world around her.
"I think now more than ever, they're accepting that we're all intelligent individuals and that it's not a stereotype."
For the next year, Brady will live in a Manhattan apartment, but mostly she will travel the country and abroad, representing the United States in Russia in the Miss Universe pageant next November. As for her job as a number cruncher, well . . . anybody looking for accounting work in Connecticut? It seems likely there's an immediate opening. One of the first items on Brady's agenda after winning the crown was to let her boss know she'd be a little late getting back to the office. In fact, make that never. At least for now, she has other plans.