Pageant Queens

Pageants began in small towns near and along beaches in the mid 1850s. The Miss America pageant launched in 1921 and spawned the Miss Universe pageant in 1952.

Sexism in pageantry has been a hot topic in feminist discussions since the initial trend began. There are generally two feminist theories surrounding pageants. 1) Pageants are dehumanizing women by putting them in bikinis (dresses, heels, makeup, crowns) and parading them in front of judges to win money. 2) Women enter pageants on their own accord and are competing based on many attributes including intelligence and talent. Bikinis are only demoralizing when we interpret them to be and shaming women for sexuality is wrong.

Let's first dissect the theory about dehumanizing women for money. When a pageant is organized to weed out certain perfections and award someone based on biased characteristics they are saying to the world that we should value standards of inequality. There have been no "unattractive" women to win Miss America and winners of smaller pageants all fit into perfect pigeon holes.

Which brings me to my next question. Shouldn't a scholarship program be based solely on intelligence, and possibly talent? I understand giving scholarships to outstanding athletes (as long as they have the other qualifications to enter university), strength and athleticism has been a desirable trait since the dawn of time. Strength and athleticism being understood without being based on gender, where all physical strength is equal. But what are the strengths in "beauty" pageants? Certainly physical appearance.

Personally I like to work hard for my money, earn it the old fashioned way, with a working class job and a lot of sacrifice. "When Miss America 2014 is crowned this weekend, she’ll earn more than $50,000 in scholarship money, which can also be used to repay college loans. Last year, the Miss America Organization awarded more than $45 million to the approximately 12,000 contestants who competed across the country (sptimes)." This industry (owned by Donald Trump) is brainwashing girls into believing they are actually earning this money based on their intelligence.  I question how the winning money is paid to the recipient. There has been no proof that the "scholarship" money is actually used for what it is intended. Calling into question if the organization should directly pay the university of attendance. It is clear that many beauty contests (not including Miss America) award cash prizes.

The "scholarship" label is all a ruse to disguise the sexism behind the contest. Trying to divert our attention away from what is clearly happening in front of us. "She's going to college, it's okay to be judged in a bikini" is the typical answer to why these pageants are acceptable.  Being paid for your beauty is like winning the blue ribbon at a cattle show.