Miss America always refers to itself as a “Scholarship Pageant,” not a “Beauty Pageant,” and I can understand why. Miss America is the world’s largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women. This assistance is not just for the handful of young women who are finalists but is available to the over 12,000 young women who compete in the state and local competitions as well.
Some of the most famous women in the world began their careers as winners of pageants: Halle Berry, Diane Sawyer, Sharon Stone, Kathie Lee Gifford, Mary Hart, Phyllis George, Michelle Yeoh, Anita Bryant, Mary Ann Mobley, Paula Zahn, Susan Anton, Deborah Norville and Venessa Williams.
Pageants usually require contestants to have a platform, which is basically a critical issue, such as cancer awareness or the benefits of mentoring, that she wishes to promote and inform others about. Community service is also a major aspect of today’s pageants. Scholarships are awarded specifically to those women who show an exemplary effort in volunteering.
Phyllis George, the former First Lady of Kentucky, was Miss America 1971. She has heard a lot of criticism of pageants, but she praises them for building self confidence. She says there is “positive self-esteem in being able to walk on a stage in front of millions of TV viewers in a swimsuit and evening gown. You can’t be shy and you have to think on your feet at numerous public events. Miss America is great training for so many careers.”
The most controversial activity is the swimsuit competition, which is supposed to be about “fitness, poise and confidence.” If you have the ability to stay poised in a swimsuit in front of America, you have the confidence to do anything! Pageants are criticized because they are not considered politically correct. However, that does not repeal the law of supply and demand. If there is a supply of attractive, intelligent, talented young women willing to participate in such events and a public demand for such events to be seen, then they will continue. Naysayers may tune them out.
As we all know, life is not fair. Our society is visual and beautiful people do have a significant advantage. They receive more attention and opportunities. They also have more self confidence and better social skills.
This has been scientifically proven numerous times, even in studies involving babies. They were shown photos of “traditionally” attractive and average individuals. The beautiful people won every time.The same photos were then shown to adults who were asked to rate several factors about the person such as politeness, intelligence, motivation, etc. The attractive people received far better scores.
Other studies have revealed that attractive children tend to get better grades in school because they receive more attention from their teachers. In the job market, many sales oriented positions are given to beautiful people. Supermodel Tyra Banks tried to demonstrate this double standard when she dressed up in fat suit.
This article demonstrates the admirable work of these women: “Miss America: Making a difference since 1921: After 88 years, the pageant for beauty, brains and drive is still evolving” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28817770/