The 2009 Miss California Pageant, coming up next month, will eliminate sashes and swimsuits in an effort to "reflect the progressive attitudes of the contestants as well as our forward- looking state."
Those are the words of Keith Lewis, the pageant's executive director, who also says this year's competition, "will change the essence of Miss California USA from a bathing suit beauty contest to the style of a runway show during fashion week." I'm not sure that "a runway show during fashion week" is actually more "progressive" than a "bathing suit beauty contest," but Lewis's statement does seem to imply that the pageant wants to move far away from everything last year's Miss California, Carrie Prejean, stood for.
From the emails they exchanged, it's safe to assume that Lewis is no big fan of the deposed Prejean. And I'm willing to bet that more than one pageant organizer was unhappy with an "opposite-marriage" advocate representing California (as a transplanted Californian myself, I thought the combination of Prejean and Prop. 8 made "our forward- looking state" seem pretty backward). Carrie Prejean only added to the existing stereotype that beauty pageants are for hyper-conventional women with reactionary values, and Miss California may be trying to de-pageant itself in order to escape this perception. The organization also plans to name two winners at its November 22 competition — if they really want to change their image, maybe they should crown a couple.