Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Miss America drops its swimsuit (so to speak)

As the 100-year old Miss America competition votes to drop the swimsuit part of the competition, one has to question the need for a "best woman" competition of any sort.
The move comes after a management shake-up that resulted in women holding the top three leadership positions in the organization, and in the wake of constant protests by women's groups and representations from many of the contestants that parading around in high heels and swimsuits makes them feel awkward. Add to that recent body-shaming campaigns against certain ex-contestants, and, perhaps the final straw, the #MeToo movement, and the writing was on the proverbial wall. The contest says it will now emphasize its role as a scholarship provider, and not as a beauty pageant. Organizers are saying things like, "We are not going to judge you on your appearance because we are interested in what makes you you", and, "It's what come out of their mouths that we care about".
It's certainly a brave move, although the organization insists that it is not expecting a huge hit either to attendance at the Atlantic City pageant or to their television viewership (they say the swimsuit competition was never the highest-rated portion of the competition anyway). But the whole thing still seems to me a bizarre anachronism. Who are all these people who want to watch a bunch of women talk more or less convincingly about how they love animals and how they want to make the world a better place. It's just a slightly less offensive Bachelorette, or one of many other anodyne and embarrassing reality shows. I think we could probably do without it in this day and age.

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