The Miss America pageant airs live this Saturday night at 8pm on TLC (we'll be liveblogging it!), and as you may know, this year, producers are trying to update and modernize the contest. The original pageant, begun in 1921, was basically something to entertain vacationers on the boardwalk in Atlantic City: Women would parade around in their bathing suits and one would be crowned and wrapped in the American flag. (The winner in 1921? Sixteen-year-old Margaret Gorman of Washington, D.C.; 30-25-32; 5'1", and 108 pounds.) According to a story on CNN, despite what producers are trying to do this year, the organizers have certain ideas about what makes a miss a Miss America. "I want them to be professional ladies," says Lois Elaine Smith-Zoll, a 70-year-old pageant volunteer from Washington with 41 years of judging experience. "This young woman is going to represent our country, we want to be proud of her." But is there a way to be proud of any of these glossy, often cheesy pageant girls representing the U.S. — and the state you come from?
Times have changed! And while we have all kinds of televised competitions — Survivor, ANTM, uh, American Gladiators — we're still attached to the idea of pitting our states against one another and declaring which has produced the prettiest, most talented young woman. And the categories! The swimsuit competition pays homage to the contest's origins, but is it really necessary to force these women to strut around half-naked? What does the "evening gown" competition prove? And "talents" like dancing and singing are great, but wouldn't it be amazing if someone entered a photo essay as their "talent"? Or translated a passage of Ancient Greek? Or, you know, installed a wireless router? I would be so proud of Miss New York if she could name the nine muses or figure out how to get from the Upper West Side to the Lower East Side in under twenty minutes. Aren't there other awesome, modern talents these girls would be better off exhibiting?
Miss America Pageant Mocks Contestants [CNN]
Earlier: Miss America Contestants Continue To Shock & Awe Us With Their "Talents"
Miss America Contestants Stun Us With Their "Talents"
Miss DC Laments Being Too "Pale" For Chocolate City