Last weekend 20/20 featured a special behind the scenes look at the Miss America Pageant. It's been many years since I've seen a beauty pageant, and this sneak preview seemed more like a reality TV show.
One of the highlights was when Miss New Mexico cited a favorite quote, " If it bags, sags or drags, it has to be nipped, tucked and sucked." She said it with a huge smile proudly showing off her self proclaimed "fake teeth."
I could understand straightening, whitening, and even having tooth implants, but something tells me that's not all many of the contestants have had surgically implanted. Sam Haskell, Chairman of the Board of Miss America said, "Our young women can do anything that they want to enhance their appearance.... I believe it is their choice to make themselves look as good as they want to look however they do it."
The contestants are required to sign a contract stating that they were never pregnant, had a criminal record, or been married. They want to stress the importance of having high morals; yet they are sending mixed messages.
One article cited that many states even offered to pay for their plastic surgery though it was never validated. This raises the question if beauty contestants are allowed to up their game by unnaturally enhancing their appearance, how is that different from pro athletes taking steroids?
The 20/20 special showed glimpses of contestants training for the pageant. One young woman was literally working her hiney off, trying to shape up her flat backside. She took her mission very seriously as she exercised with her trainer. This woman was sweating through beauty boot camp, though she wouldn't have been penalized if she had taken an easier route with plastic surgery. On the other hand, athletes have been suspended for taking steroids to enhance their performance on the playing field. Shouldn't the same rules apply to every competitor?
Not all of the contestants fit the traditional Miss America mold. In addition to having a contestant with Tourette's syndrome, this is the first year that a woman with autism participated. Miss Montana is also the youngest contestant at eighteen.
When the Miss America pageants first began in 1921 in Atlantic City, the contestants strutted down the boardwalk in swimsuits for all to see. The sixteen year old winner wore no make-up and her measurements were 30- 25-32. According to PBS, "From the very beginning, the pageant was confronted with a conflict between the effort to present an image of innocence and virtue while, at the same time, promoting a spectacle where women paraded in public in bathing suits."
Not much has changed in ninety-two years, other than the contestants are taller, their swimsuits are smaller, and it's anyone's guess how they're filling them out. Some may use gel padding, while all partake in spray on "butt glue" to keep their bikini bottoms from creeping up.
In the advent of so many young women having severe self -esteem issues watching their eighteen to twenty- four year old peers go under the knife to achieve perfection is sending the wrong message. Besides, if they start having plastic surgery in their twenties, they'll be so tightly wound when they're older that they won't have any extra flesh to fall on to prevent them from breaking a hip.
How is it different from athletes taking steroids? It's not.ReplyDelete
It's such a shame women feel they have to resort to surgery to look beautiful. Whatever happened to natural? You know who I think is a beautiful actress? Milla Jovovich, because she is definitely natural in the chest and very athletic.
I can't remember the last time I watched a pageant.It was probably about the time the woman stopped embracing their natural beauty for something they get under the knife,shame really.ReplyDelete
I haven't watched a pageant in years. So much for natural beauty, eh?ReplyDelete
It is a TV reality show. I can't believe young women still expose themselves to the meat-market gauntlet for a chance to wear a crown, spend a year being ogled, and possibly end up in the sleazy world of Hollywood. Keep it in Atlantic City, please!ReplyDelete
Ugh, I can't take that horse crap seriously. I understand no girl that admires those women.ReplyDelete
Alex - It is a shame that many of them have to resort to such drastic measures. Milla Jovovich is a great example of a natural beauty.ReplyDelete
Jen - I'm sure there are still contestants who are naturally beautiful, but the pressures for perfection are out of control.
Laura - We just have to help our daughters, nieces, or future daughter-in-laws have the confidence to be comfortable in their own bodies.
JJ - Well they do get scholarships too, but the majority of them won't receive enough to cover one year's tuition at a good college.ReplyDelete
Libby - The recently crowned Miss New York will be working toward child abuse education which is very admirable, but most young girls would only see her flawless looks.
How does anything on a twenty year old bag, sag, or drag?ReplyDelete
Great write up, comparing the botox, implants, and hair weaves of contestants to steroid use in athletes. It seems it's all standard practice anymore. I believe we're living in the "enhanced" age.
Loved this. I missed the 20/20 show but I'm going to see if I can catch it online ... Very nicely written, missy! --Sue :-)ReplyDelete
You're absolutely right in comparing the use of steroids by athletes with the "body enhancements" used by these young women. It's beyond me what in the world those young ladies... or even more, their PARENTS... are thinking. Bags, sags, and drags? Really? They'll end up looking like Joan Rivers. When she "smiles", her face barely moves, and she looks like she's in pain.ReplyDelete
I have always believed that beauty pageants are some of the most heinous and detrimental things out there for women. How can we see ourselves as powerful and intelligent when we have women like this constantly striving toward the shallow goal of being the prettiest? Those girls can delude themselves all they want to about "scholarship" money, their only goal is to get on TV. Scholarships are what the male producers of the show tell the world these women are competing for in order to justify the continued contests. Their message is really "come on ladies, why use your brain when you can be pretty instead?"ReplyDelete
Luanne - Great point about the " enhanced age!" It's very sad but true. Thanks Luanne!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much Sue! Some of the highlights can be found online.
Susan - At least Joan Rivers hasn't lost her sense of humor! It is unbelievable that many of their parents haven't taken a stand against this.
Melissa - I agree that many of them are eager to go on TV at any cost. You're right that the goal is for them to look their prettiest, and everything else is secondary.
I never thought about the connection to athletes taking steroids but that's such a good point. It's so disturbing to think of young women having plastic surgery for something like this. I have to agree with Melissa on pageants, they are just heinous.ReplyDelete
Great write-up, Julie. I would be interested in watching this special too.
Delores, I agree with Susan and Alex. Good comparison with athletes. I haven,'t watched Miss America in decades so I was totally caught off guard with the bikiniReplyDelete
Julie - I never realized what these young women were putting themselves through until I saw the 20/20 episode. It's definitely worth seeing. I'm excited for next week. Thanks Julie!ReplyDelete
Jody - I also haven't seen the pageants in many years. It was interesting to learn about "butt glue" for bikini bottoms.
I never watch beauty pageants of any kind but I do think you make excellent points regarding the comparison to athletes and the mixed messages. I made that point in a post about skirt! magazine. They profess to a feminist publication and concern with women's issues including (but certainly not limited to) health and fitness. YET, all of their adds are related to places that are in existence to play off of our insecurities about our looks- plastic surgeons, dermatologists (who are only advertising how much better we could look with their help NOT serious skin issues) and dentists who advertise that no one is going to love us if our smiles aren't as white as they can be. No wonder young girls are confused. Good post!ReplyDelete
I didn't see the 20/20 episode, but wish I had. I've always felt they put too much emphasis on looks only. I agree with your thoughts exactly. Too many girls lacking self-esteem these days - all based on the theory that everyone should be the perfect measurements, perfect height, perfect everything.ReplyDelete
Excellent, Julie. It's not just in beauty pageants either. Every day in magazines and on television we're pummeled with ads for this cream, that diet, this bra, that makeup. Now there are even Skinnygirl Cocktails. Will it never end?ReplyDelete
Empty Nester - Your post on the magazine sounds great, and I'll look for it. It is amazing how they say one thing, and do another to attract ad revenues. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Mary - I went back and referenced some of the best quotes from the show online, so it's available if you're interested Mary.
Carol - I did a double take when I saw the Skinnygirl Cocktails commercial, but I'm sure that it will appeal to women of all ages. That deserves it's very own post. Thanks Carol!
You've raised many good points in this post. I agree that modern society seems to encourage people to do plastic surgery in search for the "perfect" person.ReplyDelete
Gina - I'm glad that you realize how wrong this is, and have enough self respect to eat healthy and exercise without taking drastic measures. Sadly, many of these young women will always be striving for unattainable perfection. You are a beautiful person Gina, and your writing also reflects this.Delete
I watched the Miss America Pageant because I couldn't find anything else that wasn't a crime show. I always thought Miss America was about natural beauty. It just goes to show that setting standards of good looks changes the way people treat their bodies.ReplyDelete
It is very sad that the advertising by Dove that is supposed to teach girls to like themselves is so far in the background. But, I keep thinking about braces and tooth straightening and what a difference it makes for anyone to be able to change a cross bite or crowded teeth. If one does that much for health reasons it might be seriously tempting to just keep doing more and more.
This is a timely post. Lance Armstrong had enhancements and is disgraced. A young woman completely rebuilds herself and hopes to get rewarded. Where will it end?ReplyDelete
Yvonne - I had braces at a young age, and was one of the last girls to wear make-up. I simply said goodbye to my buck teeth, and moved on. But I seldom stop at one potato chip.ReplyDelete
Susan - The difference is that he went to great lengths to cover up his illegal activities, and the Miss America contestants are almost encouraged to undergo enhancement procedures. All competitors should achieve their goals through hard work, and perseverance without doing anything chemically or surgically to increase their chances period. Who knows how this will end, but something tragic will probably have to happen for any real changes to take place in the pageants. Thanks for the great points Susan!
Good Heavens. Much to think on. I think I shall have my eleven year old read this post.ReplyDelete
Liked the ending there, Joylene.
Jill - It's good to get an early start! Thanks Jill!Delete
In this increasingly enhanced superficial world, it does seem that esteem issues can be the reasons behind the enhancement. It's a shame that somebody cannot be happy with who they are. However, if it impacts ones life so adversely, I can somewhat understand.ReplyDelete
I used to be a 'model', now I'm life-sized.
From the next 'Paw Minister' of Britain, Penny the Jack Russell dog! :)
You make a very good point, Julie. Being allowed unlimited plastic surgery is analogous to the cyclists doping up. And the contestants must not have been married? Why? Because divorce is sinful? Grr, my blood is boiling. I can't stand beauty pageants.ReplyDelete
Penny - You've always been a "pawsitive" role model; make no bones about it!ReplyDelete
Robyn - The rule about marriage was probably implemented back in the 1920's simply because it was Miss not Mrs America. There's enough hypocrisy in these pageants to make anyone's blood boil, but it would be easier to change the channel.
Its sad our society has impressed upon our female youth the need for plastic surgery at such a young age. This can become an obsession that only gets worse. People need to accept it is okay to age gracefully.ReplyDelete
oh yeah very mixed emotions on this one julie---on the one hand, if all of those girls and people with money weren't able to fix everything they had, then people like me, might not feel so bad about their aging and imperfect parts---on the other hand, if i had the resources and an assurance, i would have no complications, i would fix everything :)ReplyDelete
Stephen - I couldn't agree with you more about young women. Though I do believe that it's okay to have help in aging gracefully.ReplyDelete
Lynn - You look great Lynn, but it's an entirely different story when people our age have work done. It's true that there is always a risk of complications with any surgery.
haha thanks julie :)ReplyDelete
i'm totally cringing...ouch. so sad what beauty means these daysReplyDelete
Sad but true Tammy.Delete
I haven't watched a beauty pageant in ages... I don't think I'm missing anything...ReplyDelete
I'm trying to understand how any parts of a 20-odd year old anatomy can bag, sag or drag?! Really... it's downright ridiculous!
Plastic surgery is no different from athletes taking steroids!
Glad that we're in complete agreement Michelle!Delete