The “S” Word | Clare Baierl | Journalism + Design

Clare Baierl (she/her), Journalism + Design ’23
Independent Research and Creative Projects Grant, Capstone Grant

Title: The “S” Word

Description: An exploration of womanhood, beauty, and our cultural perceptions through the lens of a niche pageant system: Ms. Senior America, a beauty pageant for women over the age of sixty.

Outcomes: A book

Who was supporting you in your work? How did you work with them? Lori Grinker. She helped me so much along the way, everything from proofing my work to helping me with technical issues.

How has this project has been impactful or transformative — for you personally or for those this work has impacted:
Wow, in so many ways. This project completely opened up my eyes. I went into the project not wanting to be a journalist (even though that is my major) and went out strongly wanting to work in journalism.

What would you do differently? How would you advise a student who is going to do something similar?
I would give myself more time!!! This project took so much from me mentally and physically, that it was hard to function at times. I needed at least another semester to make the work more bearable.

This is an image from the Ms. North Carolina Senior America Pageant. Three women stand on stage wearing matching blue dresses and carrying umbrellas. They are performing a dance a the song

Short summary
This was such an amazing experience. I was able to hone by journalism skills, such as reporting, interviewing and writing. As well as work on new skills such as photography and graphic design. It was such a great learning experience.

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