Sunday, September 14, 2014

Does "Miss America" Reflect America?

As I was flipping through channels, I came across the "Miss America" pageant and decided to tune in for a little bit, and obviously I was not the only one.  In addition to the thousands of people gathered into the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, millions of Americans were watching it on television.  Unlike other Americans, who live for this day, I could only watch for ten minutes, for I found it both appalling and against everything "America" stands for, to say the least.

The "Miss America" pageant is no exception to the idea that pageants objectify women and place far too much emphasis on exterior beauty.  There are four rounds of competition: Lifestyle & Fitness in Swimsuit, Evening Wear, Talent, and On-Stage-Question.  First of all, how could the judges base "Lifestyle & Fitness" off of how a women looks in a bikini?  There are so many different body types in our world, so one person might live a healthier lifestyle than a woman who does not stay fit and simply just has a faster metabolism; however, the judges will see the skinnier woman as "better" and "healthier".  Also, half of the competition is based solely on exterior beauty (swimsuit and evening wear).  These two rounds are also the first rounds in the pageant, so before a woman shows her talent or her views on life with the question, she must prove to the judges that she is conventionally attractive in order to even get to those rounds.

Some people argue that this competition is ultimately beneficial and better than other pageants, for the "winner" wins $50,000 in scholarship money; however, should women really be granted scholarship money for looking the best in a bikini?  There is more to a women than just her body, and while there are other rounds to the competition besides those based merely on looks, it makes up fifty percent of the pageant.  Scholarship money should go to students who are proven to be exceptional academically, possess a given talent, or need the extra money.  I applaud the fact "Miss America" is given scholarship money instead of normal money to destroy the stereotype that "pretty people aren't smart"; however, there are better ways to get scholarship money than parading around in a bikini.

The winner of "Miss America" eventually goes on to tour the United States to promote the cause she stood for throughout the competition.  While this is a good aspect of the "Miss America" pageant, anyone can promote a good cause.  One does not need to win a pageant to spread word about something they are passionate about and encourage people to help out.  The fact that "Miss America" goes on "tour" makes it seem like it is based primarily on fame, not the cause.

Even with all this, the "Miss America" pageant is still described as an "american tradition".  According to the official "Miss America" website, "The Miss America Organization is a not-for-profit organization that has maintained a tradition for many decades of empowering American women".  Does the "Miss America" pageant really empower women?  Why is this a tradition that keeps returning annually for Americans?

1 comment:

  1. I think you bring up many great points about what the pageant and what it really stands for. I also question why the pageant finds the swim suit part so important to the final outcome. People should not be judged so harshly on their appearance. As you said, it objectifies women and really shines a bad light on some people. I think the pageant tries to stand for something good because it is trying to get across a message about charitable actions but I think the way they go about deciding on a cause or charity can be distracting and is unnecessary.