Miss America goes woke: No more swimsuit competition at pageant

The bad news? No more bikinis. The good news? The eventual angry presidential tweet about this will be amazing.

Henceforth this will no longer be a beauty pageant, it’ll be a beauty competition. At least until they inevitably drop the “beauty” part on grounds that any judgment of women based on their looks is inherently sexist and retrograde.

Then it’ll just be a talent competition. A bad one too, relative to the many other talent competitions currently airing on American TV.

The contestants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will be asked to demonstrate their passion, intelligence and overall understanding of the job of Miss America.

The organization is also getting rid of the evening gown portion of the competition and instead asking contestants to wear attire that makes them feel confident, expresses their personal style and shows how they hope to advance the role of Miss America.

“We’ve heard from a lot of young women who say, ‘We’d love to be a part of your program but we don’t want to be out there in high heels and a swimsuit,’ so guess what, you don’t have to do that anymore,” Carlson said. “Who doesn’t want to be empowered, learn leadership skills and pay for college and be able to show the world who you are as a person from the inside of your soul.”

She continued, “That’s what we’re judging them on now.”

“I never thought I’d be the chairwoman of the Miss America Organization,” said Carlson when asked about her role in the #MeToo movement, “but here I am and we’re moving it forward and we’re evolving in this cultural revolution.” Those are two words you definitely want to hear in connection with your favorite light-entertainment variety-show extravaganza: Cultural revolution. Sounds like the new product’s basically going to be an extended Dove “real beauty” ad — with the notable difference that Dove had no problem putting its models in swimsuits.

Christina Hoff Sommers asks a fair question:

An 80-year-old woman (or man?) is every bit as qualified for an “inner beauty” pageant as a young woman. If the answer is that the competition is about awarding scholarships, which are typically the province of the young, that’s no problem. Plenty of older adults would love to have the dough to continue their education, purely for the joy of learning. And the prizes don’t *need* to be for education. Why not let middle-aged women who run their own businesses compete and use the money to expand their enterprises?

The pageant’s going to end up in a no-win situation. If next year’s contestants are the same crop of fabulously beautiful young women they have every year, albeit more modestly dressed, they’ll get hit for betraying Carlson’s promise this morning that “We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance.” They’ll still be judging them on physical appearance, they just won’t be parading them half-nude. If they go strong in the opposite direction, populating the ranks with “untraditional” candidates, people will wonder what the point of continuing this event is. Just end the pageant and replace it with some forthright intellectual or talent competition, like “College Bowl” but with all women contestants. Insisting on calling it a beauty pageant (or “competition”) while disregarding physical beauty is like holding the “World’s Strongest Man” contest and letting nerds compete on grounds that they have “inner strength.” Nothing wrong with nerds. They just don’t make for very good spectacle.

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David Strom 8:01 AM on February 03, 2023