Sisters Talking On. . .From Miss America Pageant To Competition

Point for Discussion:

In our days of the #metoo movement, the Miss America Pageant is also going through some evolution.  With the elimination of the swimsuit suit and evening gown competitions, there is a goal of transitioning from a “beauty pageant” to a “competition” among women.  Shifting from a focus on the appearance of women to a competition sounds good, but what should the criteria be?

Our Points of View:


I think many would agree that it’s about time to evolve the Miss America pageant.  In times where women are equals, I believe that it should be less about gender and more about who best represents America.

Maybe it’s time to expand to a competition of women and men, with equal opportunity to compete as a “whole person” for the chance to be chosen as the best representative of America, it’s values, its talents and its potential for greatness.

Does it have to be about gender?  If this is not too far out there, maybe it’s the “Best of America,” whether female, male or transgender.  We need a role model for the Country that we can aspire to be like (when it isn’t necessarily the standing President).

My concern with the beauty pageant or competition among women is that it still makes gender a requirement.  Maybe American Idol and The Voice have it right….choosing the best regardless of gender, but focused on specific criteria.

I’m thinking that the criteria for becoming a finalist of the “Best of America” could be something like:

  • Compassion for Community (community service and volunteering)
  • Mentoring (how they help others become their best)
  • Success in their career (what they are doing to reach their potential)
  • Point of view on current events (what he/she believes is working and what’s not working)
  • Solution to a domestic problem and a world problem (how they would solve them)
  • How they best represent America (could be the new interview question)

The “Best of America” could be something we all strive for, even if we don’t join into a competition.



The Miss America contest has been around for over 85 years.  It started in 1921 as a bathing beauty revue. Contestants were judged purely on physical appearance. Over the years, the contest has been the subject of several controversial actions and rule changes related to contestants’ racial or religious background, marital or sexual history and age.  The contest has also morphed from strictly a beauty contest to one that includes talent and personal platforms or causes.

I know I used to watch this on TV when I was growing up, but I’m pretty sure I saw it as exemplifying what all women should want to be – beautiful, smart and talented.  At the time, I didn’t understand the size of the operation and all of the local pageants that supported it. It is a huge business and to this day, there are many young girls, some as young as toddlers, that participate in pageants hoping to be Miss America someday.  For the winner, many doors are opened and careers are started.  How can that be bad?

As Laurie suggests, perhaps this has run its course.  From a personal perspective, I hope so.  Mostly so we can get past objectifying women.

Women make up more than half the population in this country.  And yet, many men in this country still believe women are not as smart, not as strong and not as powerful as they, themselves are.  There is, unfortunately, still a bias in America.  Wake up men.  You opened the door for women to stand up and be recognized by electing a womanizing narcissist as President.  You are not horrified by his historically bad behavior.  Even the far right Christian fundamentalists have chosen to look the other way.  This is ridiculous.  Women have tolerated this bad behavior for centuries for their own individual reasons.  But make no mistake, it was tolerated as a means to an end, not because it was right or even close to proper.  The #MeToo movement has provided a forum for women wronged to speak out in their own defense and to call out those that took advantage.  It’s about time!

Contests based on outer beauty need to change as well. The changes to the Miss America contest that Gretchen Carlson has led are significant.  Contestants, or candidates in the new competition, are now judged on who they are rather than how they look.  It will be interesting to see how this evolves over the years.  Will the new program be pushed down to the supporting programs or will those still be based on physical beauty?  If the changes do not filter down to the supporting programs, then this all sounds like window dressing.   Women and young girls will still be objectified and appreciated for attaining some idealized version of outer beauty.

As a society, we are finally evolving into something nearing equality for all people regardless of gender.  Women should not be considered possessions or trophies to be admired and/or compared.  We are strong, intelligent, powerful individuals, passionate about causes we believe in.  Young girls are finally being taught that there are no limits to what they can accomplish. Men can not control us, and they should never have believed that they could.

Perhaps the #MeToo movement is helping them to realize this.  I certainly hope so.


Our Question for You:

What kind of competition do think the Miss America Pageant should evolve to?

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