Melissa King resigned as Miss Delaware Teen USA 2013 amid speculation that she is the woman appearing in an amateur porn video. She has denied participation in the sex tape, but stepped down as pageant queen nonetheless. She’s being shamed and vilified for her alleged acts, when she’s really more of a victim of circumstance and of a society that draws hazy-at-best lines for what is acceptable behavior.
Her bio on the Miss Delaware website boasts of the teen’s overachieving tendencies. She’s a talented athlete who competed in gymnastics events starting at age 9 and cheered for her high school. Her artwork has earned awards and her grades and test scores are stellar. She’s passionate about volunteering and helping others anyway she can. She’s smart and ambitious with likely much to offer, but she lives in this flawed society, and absorbs what she is exposed to.
Keeping up with the Kardashians premiered more than 5 years ago, with The Simple Life airing for nearly 4 years before that, so Melissa King spent all of her formative under the impression, whether she realized it or not, that a sex tape can lead to a desirable life. Kim Kardashian is considered a role model by some, and her past cannot be denied. While she is largely controversial, she has a substantial fan base, and significant influence.
Melissa King and Kim Kardashian’s pasts cannot be more different. Kardashian has only known wealth, whereas King entered Delaware’s foster system at age 12 and struggled with anxiety and depression during this time. Her resignation has made clear one of or societal paradoxes. When you’re rich and make a sex tape, you get a reality show and fame. When you’re poor and make a sex tape, for financial reasons, you have to relinquish what little power you have earned. It’s a tricky and unfair line that’s been drawn.
The woman in the video says she is doing it for the money. Something else that is done for money? Beauty pageants. Both let a pretty girl use her looks and sexuality for financial gain, either in the form of scholarships or cash. Both offer a certain kind of acceptance and attention. But, one is more acceptable than the other.
It may be that Melissa King used porn as a means to an end, and she did with beauty pageants. The Miss Delaware Teen USA pageant gave King a platform to raise awareness for causes she cares about like healthy living and improving the foster system, while also giving her the opportunity to fund her education.
If it is Melissa King in the video, then it is a shame that she thinks the right move is to resign and lie about her involvement. She made a mistake, just as every young adult does, but it is not entirely her fault. She deserves a redemptive storyline as well as the opportunity to be a role model to other young women who have made mistakes. Hopefully she, and all of us, can move past this particular incident while also moving toward a society where incidents like this can be averted.