The 2018 winner of the Miss America pageant blasted the organization and its bosses for “bullying” her in a letter gone public.
In a five-page letter addressed to “Miss America Sisters,” Cara Mund slammed the Miss America Organization which recently has been attempting to turn around its sexist image.
“About two weeks ago, I started researching workplace bullying . . . Ultimately, this is my year in a nutshell,” the former Miss North Dakota wrote in the letter that was made public Friday. according to USA Today.
“Our chair and CEO have systematically silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis,’’ Mund said, referring to Miss America CEO Regina Hopper and chair Gretchen Carlson.
The 24-year-old Brown University graduate claimed that when she noted her unhappiness in a newspaper interview last month, she was met with immediate retaliation. She was told she was “not important enough” to do big interviews, which were reserved for Carlson, and had to stick to specific talking points while the higher-ups allegedly criticized her clothes and purposely mispronounced her name.
“I haven’t felt like Miss America for the last eight months, and now, they are even taking away my goodbye,’’ Mund wrote about her appearance at next month’s pageant being cut to only 30 seconds.
In response, the Miss America Organization released a statement Friday.
“It is disappointing that she chose to air her grievances publicly not privately. Her letter contains mischaracterizations and many unfounded accusations. We are reaching out to her privately to address her concerns,” the statement read. “The Miss America Organization supports Cara.”
Mund, however, claims her treatment by the organization has been a form of “workplace bullying.”
“The rhetoric about empowering women, and openness and transparency, is great; however, the reality is quite different. I am living that difference,” she wrote.
“Let me be blunt: I strongly believe that my voice is not heard nor wanted by our current leadership; nor do they have any interest in knowing who I am and how my experiences relate to positioning the organization for the future,” Mund added. “I truly felt more valued, respected, and viewed as a real collaborator within my first three months rather than these last eight months. The differences in treatment are stark.”
Carlson, a former Miss America winner and Fox News host, was named chair of the pageant’s board of directors following the resignation of its previous chairman amid an email scandal. In June, she announced that there would be no more swimsuit competition as part of the event.
“We are no longer a pageant; we are a competition. We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance,” Carlson said. “That means we will no longer have a swimsuit competition.”
Last month, state pageant officials signed a petition demanding the resignation of the entire Miss America board, including Carlson, who received a $20 million settlement in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News’ former network chief, Roger Ailes.
“I want to be clear that as a proponent of women my entire life, I have never bullied Cara Mund,” Carlson told People magazine. “We have supported Cara for her entire year and we will continue to support her. It’s just disappointing that she chose to air her grievance publicly and not privately.”
Carlson also noted that being Miss America is the “toughest job you will ever have.”
“Every Miss America could tell you if they wanted to about the ups and downs of their year. I could,” she told People. “But you realize as more time passes what an amazing opportunity you have been given to serve as a role model and an ambassador for our country and to make a difference.”
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