The pains and gains of pageant life


Junior Elisa Baricelli enjoys some time off in the Caribbean during the Miss Italia USA pageant held March 21- 28.
Junior Elisa Baricelli enjoys some time off in the Caribbean during the Miss Italia USA pageant held March 21- 28.

By Heather Fiore

At first glance, Elisa Baricelli may look like the typical pageant girl, but you’ll quickly learn that she defies every stereotype. Full of charisma and beauty, it’s not surprising that Baricelli, a junior communication major with a track in radio and television, was one of the 50 women chosen to compete in the Miss Italia USA pageant.

Baricelli outshined 25 other women who auditioned at the statewide level in the semi-final round. Although she was invited to compete in the pageant, which was held on the MSC Orchestra Cruise Ship in the Caribbean from March 21-28, she did not place in the competition.  

The women in the pageant spent the majority of the week doing photo shoots and an array of other activities.

“I went into the competition because I was a finalist in Miss N.J. USA,” Baricelli said. “I’m also a singer and actress, and being in the pageant was very similar to recording. They judge you on your poise, your character, and so on.”

While Baricelli isn’t new to the pageant scene, her dissatisfaction with the Miss Italia pageant was apparent.

“I was disappointed with how it turned out,” Baricelli said. “It was very disorganized, and it seemed like they already had the winners chosen before we got there.”

While the objectives of the pageant were elaborately laid out to Baricelli and the other women, they weren’t followed at all, she said. 

“We were supposed to have a fashion show supplied by the ‘Italian Guess’ known as ‘Sash,’ but all we did was stand there in line and that’s how they picked the girls,” Baricelli said. “I met a lot of great girls, and it was definitely an experience to remember. However, there were some things I felt could have been handled differently.”

While Baricelli makes sure to stray from portraying the image of having “sour grapes,” as she calls it, she is eager to discuss her blossoming music career.

“I’ve been singing since I was 3,” she said. “When I was 14, I recorded my first album. My producer is a Grammy-award winner, Tony Camillo, and I’ve worked with him since I was 15.”

As a transfer student from Westminster Choir College, Baricelli is classically trained. She has also performed at Disney World, worked with Jon Voight and Will Smith and is even in her own classic rock cover band, The Hoovers.

Although Baricelli has put her recording career on hold to excel in school and obtain a degree, her musical and media exposure have allowed her to easily open up about stereotypes that linger throughout the pageant world.

“You see a pageant girl and think ‘Oh, she’s pretty, that’s all she has,’” Baricelli said. “But once you get to a finalist level, that’s not true. They’re looking at your degree, your experience, your ability to speak to people — everything.”

Traditionally, pageant participants are judged on their looks. As a result, many girls struggle with their body images and develop insecurities.

“The only thing that takes time is maintaining your body,” Baricelli said. “You definitely do have to take care of yourself.”

It would seem like Baricelli is cut out for the pageant world. However, she has no hesitation about her decision for her future.

“I think this will be my last pageant,” Baricelli said. “I feel like it’s very difficult to have five people, which is essentially a panel of judges, judging you on their opinion of beauty because beauty is so subjective.”

Although she has decided that pageants aren’t the right path for her, she currently hosts a webcast show called, “What Women Want Primetime,” and hopes to further pursue her career in radio and TV.

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