Newly crowned Miss Massachusetts Loren Galler Rabinowitz shatters any preconceived notions that one might have about beauty pageant contestants. The 24-year-old Brookline native just graduated from Harvard. She’s a world champion figure skater, a poet, and a classically trained pianist planning to attend medical school next year. This summer, in addition to fine-tuning her first book, she’s flying to Barbados to help fight hunger and teach creative writing to abused women and children. Of course, she’ll also be preparing for the Miss America pageant in January 2011.
While Galler Rabinowitz takes the ideal of well-roundedness to an extreme, her accomplishments wouldn’t surprise past Miss Massachusetts title holders. Our state has a history of crowning young women who break out of the typical beauty queen mold: MIT and Harvard students, future doctors, lawyers, and fierce policy advocates. Galler Rabinowitz herself comes from a long line of accomplished women. Her grandmother survived the Holocaust. Her mother graduated from medical school at 21 and was one of the first female residents at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her younger twin sisters are piano virtuosos. Galler Rabinowitz says she relishes the opportunity to show young girls that “you don’t have to be a Barbie doll to be pretty.’’
Responding to the criticism that they objectify women, beauty pageants have sought to reinvent themselves as scholarship competitions that reward not just looks but leadership and achievement. So far, no one from Massachusetts has ever taken home the grand prize in the Miss America contest. But if Galler Rabinowitz adds that barrier-shattering feat to her long and varied list of honors, the pageant world will gain more credibility as a venue where accomplished young women can pursue their dreams.