Summary to ???I Want to Be Miss America??? by Julia Alvarez
In her essay ???I Want to Be Miss America???, Julia Alvarez discusses her life as an outsider after moving to the United States of America from the Dominican Republic at the age of ten. She watched Miss America pageant with her three sisters and parents trying to remember how to look more ???American???. She writes ???in our nightgowns, we watched fifty young women who had the American look we longed for??? (Alvarez 56). For Julia and her sisters moving was a hard enough change to deal with. She uses such landmarks as ???South of Florida??? (Alvarez 57) to explain her classmates where the Dominican Republic is, because none of them knew where it was on the map. Alvarez ???could just as well had said west of Puerto Rico or east of Cuba or right next to Haiti??? (57), but she didn??™t want it to be associated with a Third World country; she wanted it ???to sound as a vacation spot??? (57). She and her sisters tried to look more native, not like complete foreigners. The four sisters wanted ???to translate their looks into English??? (Alvarez 57), which was rather difficult to implement. They had olive skin and curly black hair that completely differed from ???blond, blue-eyed looks??? (Alvarez 60) and ???peaches and cream??? (Alvarez 60) skin of the contestants of Miss America, who were the main examples for the girls. In the late sixties a fashion for ethic looks and shades of skin with colorful outfits that the sisters had worn came to the States. Americans wanted to look exotic; they wanted to look the way Alvarez girls did. Even after three decades of living in America Julia still felt like a stranger. She knew that she was never going to be that pure model of an actual American woman from Miss America pageant.
I certainly can understand Julia Alvarez about what it is like to be a foreigner in another country. I agree that it is rather a challenge than a pleasure to be an outsider. Such a person wants to become a part of a society, wants to become more like others and look the way they do. For Julia models of true American women were those young ladies from Miss America contest. For me, my classmates, girls that I meet everyday in college or outside serve as such examples. Especially for teenagers, it is important to be a part of some group or sociality; to look, to dress, to behave as if they belong here. By fitting in they usually can achieve respect and sympathy from others. For Alvarez girls this group was comprised of people around them, who were born Americans. Desperate desire to become one of them was so strong that the sisters did all they could do to reach this goal. Still, it appeared impossible for Julia to get rid of the feeling of being a stranger even after a long time of living in what she now considers ???her own country??? (Alvarez 60).
Alvarez, Julia. ???I Want to Be Miss America.??? Mirror on America. Ed. Joan T. Mims and Elizabeth M. Nollen. Mirror on America. Boston: Bedford-St. Martens, 2010. Print. 56-60