Screenshot: There she went, Miss America

The Miss America pageant is tonight, a TV factoid that's gotten lost amid the frenzy over Lost's imminent return and the fallout from a bunch of rich white guys squabbling over who gets what late-night spot. The pageant is relegated to TLC these days, but it belongs on the History Channel as a living relic of an earlier time. This is appropriate given that straight-from-the-Salem-witch-trials Rush Limbaugh is one of the judges.

It's hard to make an argument for paying attention to the Miss America pageant because the pageant hasn't really made a compelling argument for its continued existence. Why hype up a competition that has so little ultimately at stake? The most famous recent Miss America is Vanessa Williams (1984), who launched to fame only once when she was forced to step down. The second most-famous may be Gretchen Carlson (1989), who is now hosting the Fox News morning show Fox & Friends. However, it's not like the pageant demonstrated Carlson's rigorous commitment to contributing to public dialogue in a scrupulous and civic-minded way; what it did was point out that really, Fox New's requirements for whomever is going to yammer on their show are admirably egalitarian, if by "egalitarian," you mean "there's no need to demonstrate anything beyond a fondness for sit-ups if you're a woman."

How do you reconcile Miss America in a country where women run the House of Representatives and the state department? How do you justify a pageant where women are supposedly the country's ideal based on talent and swimsuit segments? Or how do they compete on a TV spectrum that features Rock of Love? At least on that show, nobody's pretending to be a honor student who loves Jesus and wants to raise awareness about music education. They just want to bone a former rock star, hopefully without contracting something that can't be cured with a standard course of antibiotics. It's more authentic.

The fact that the Miss America pageant has gone from slumber-party staple to weekend cable's land of wind and ghosts in a twenty-year period is a great sign. It means America is not buying what Miss America is selling. There she goes, no longer our ideal.

by Lisa Schmeiser
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4 Comments Have Been Posted

Bye, Bye Miss America

I will be glad when there are no more "beauty pageants" at all. I don't want my daughters and sons growing believing that a woman's worth is only face-deep.

Couldn't agree more

We don't need any more messages pumping through the media that the only way for a girl to have 'worth' and be 'special' is to have an amazing body. The only thing I can remember from ever seeing those pageants growing up, was feeling bad about myself afterwards. I absolutely love that Miss America is going down the crapper. Can't wait until that beauty pageant (or any for that fact) is gone for good!

Miss America pageant

RUSH LIMBAUGH?! Oh, please! THIS is who they got to judge beauty, grace & poise?

Because he's SUCH an expert on the subject, right? That right there tells you how far the contest has fallen!

I can't wait to find out that Barbie has reached this point as well!

When we see her being hustled only by the copier box full in garage sales for $5 each, I'll know that women have progressed beyond they hype of being judged by their bodies.

P. S. Being "dumped" by Miss America was the best thing that ever happened to Vanessa Williams. Look where she is now, playing one of the BEST villains ever on Ugly Betty! All hail, Wilhelmina!

I hate to be the one to break the bad news ...

... but <a href=" ABC just canceled <i>Ugly Betty</i></a>

Regarding the pageant, I was also disappointed to learn that Shawn Johnson (Olympic gymnastics medalist) was a judge, too. For her young gymnast fans wanting to grow up to be just like her, her judging a beauty pageant poses a serious image problem of "You don't just have to be athletic, but you should be beautiful, too."

The winner of the pageant is a broadcast journalism student at Virginia Commonwealth University. A friend of mine, who happens to be a VCU alum and staunch feminist (Who turned me on to <i>Bitch</i>, btw!), is finding this to be very embarrassing. The school has more of a reputation for--in the likelihood of--turning out more <i>Bitch</i> readers (VCU has an awesome and seriously underrated arts program. They also offer womens/gender studies classes, too) than Miss Americas.

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