When I was a little girl, my mother and I watched every beauty pageant aired on television. I had visions of one day walking down a runway with my bathing suit glued to my butt and a shiny rhinestone tiara on top of my head. Those dreams were dashed when my height topped out at 5'5". And they were REALLY dashed when my weight topped out at - well, never mind.
But it looks like I might get another shot at it.
Once upon a time, the new Miss America was crowned wearing a bathing suit instead of an evening gown. The change in 1948 sparked controversy and fears that photographers would no longer show up to cover the pageant. But everyone got over it and the pageant continued for another 80 years.
This morning, former Miss America and current organization chair Gretchen Carlson announced on Good Morning America that they were doing away with the swimsuit competition altogether. "We are no longer a pageant. Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent and empowerment,” Carlson said in a statement. “We’re experiencing a cultural revolution in our country with women finding the courage to stand up and have their voices heard on many issues. Miss America is proud to evolve as an organization and join this empowerment movement.”
"We are now open, inclusive and transparent, and I want to inspire thousands of young people across this country to come and be a part of our program," she said, "because we want you and we want to celebrate your accomplishments and your talents."
"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,' " she continued. "So guess what? You don't have to do that anymore. You're welcome. Please come join us."
Judging from the reaction on social media, you'd think that they were throwing burkas over all the contestants.
Appropriate Twitter handle there, dude.
There have been some truly outstanding women to wear the Miss America Crown: Lee Merriwether, Anita Bryant, Phyllis George, Erika Harold, Heather Whitestone, and Vanessa Williams, who if nothing else if proof that a youthful mistake and scandal don't have to ruin the rest of your life. And of course, Carlson herself.
It's not surprising that Gretchen Carlson would be in favor of the changes, given her victimization at Fox by the late Roger Ailes. She was quick to dismiss fears that ratings would plummet because of this. “Interestingly enough, that’s not a highly rated part of the competition. People actually like the talent part of the competition." The telecast has consistently dropped in the ratings and has struggled in recent years to find a channel that would even broadcast it. Last year only 5.6 million viewers watched, so it's hard to imagine ratings going any lower.
I can't help but notice that most of the negative comments have come from men, even from my fellow Resurgent writers (cough, cough Marc and Connor.) Count me as one in favor of the decision. It's about time the pageant - sorry, SCHOLARSHIP COMPETITION joined the modern era. And there was always something absurdly ironic in awarding a college scholarship to a woman on the basis of her ability to walk in 6 inch heels while wearing a bikini and vaseline on her teeth.
But for you boys still longing to watch women in bikinis humiliating themselves in a televised competition, I understand that ABC is still running "The Bachelor."