Reconsidering Miss America

I have long been one of those feminists who loves to loathe beauty pageants. An obvious celebration of complete objectification of women, an embarrassment to those of us with an ability to articulate real answers to questions about our hopes for the world, a painful reminder of women’s status in society.

But I really liked Slate’s spin on the Miss America pageant. It got me thinking about authenticity and judgment.

I love a sexy pair of stilettos. I ponder plastic surgery and watch The Real Housewives of Orange County with a mixture of disdain and jealousy. So what, then, makes me so different from these women parading around on the stage for some kind of reward? Danielle Friedman writes:

In this cultural moment, I’ve come to respect pageant contestants for their blindingly obvious effort. Makeup, bleached teeth, and sprayed-on tans are celebrated. Pageants are simply a more honest manifestation of our whole beauty-obsessed culture—and I find that liberating. At Miss America, you won’t find any ethereal, Angelina-like waifs floating around. Instead, when the girls strut across the stage in bikinis and heels and Bumpits, their bodies are chiseled and curvy and human. Some look “like armor,” noted former Miss America Susan Powell in this year’s TLC pre-show. They appear to have worked damn hard to look camera-ready.

The contestants aren’t fooling anybody. They do care about their appearance, and they let that be known with pride. To some degree, that is refreshingly different from the rest of the world, in our striving for the no-makeup makeup look, perfect hair and bodies, and the illusion that we’re not superficial.



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21 thoughts on “Reconsidering Miss America

  1. I think people who strut and preen like a peacock are attention starved idiots when I see them trolling the mall, seeing them on the tv doesn’t make them any more appealing.

  2. I don’t deny that it takes a lot of drive and hard work to get to that level in that world. I do however have to wonder why they don’t apply that drive to something worthwhile. If I had that much drive I’d be out curing cancer or bringing about world peace, not using it to make myself look like Barbie.

    • Agreed.

      I actually know a girl who is hardcore for pageants like this, and totally wants to be Miss America. Almost every waking minute of her life is spent on her pageants–she has the next ten or so years of her life planned out in regards to them. She has turned down really good job offers because they would interfere with her pageant life.

      It’s like, honestly? This is what you spend all your time and energy on?

    • One the other hand Rhonda, you can only put your energy in stuff that you are REALLY interested in. If that happens to be clothes and make-up then the most worthwhile thing to do might be becoming a fashion designer.

      And I am actually happy for her to turn down the job offers, which means she actually does a job that she loves.

      Ugh I dunno, I’d say as long as they still have fun doing pageants, let them do it. It’s no worse than being a singer/actress/model.

  3. Im sorry, I love pagents. I am attracted to women who look like barbie dolls. I would like to look like a barbie doll. My father used to date a Miss World and I think its his fault. I was not allowed to play with Barbie when I was a kid. I think thats why I really want to play with girls that look like her now!

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