I have always loved the two major pageants, Miss America and Miss USA. And I have watched them year in and year out with my daughters. Sure it's tricky terrain -- how do you reconcile beauty contests and feminist ideals? Well, I have always felt, and have always taught my daughters, that women can be smart and beautiful and there is nothing wrong with either one.
While trying very hard not to sound catty, I voice my opinion during the broadcasts when I think that a contestant is too thin or obviously had a boob job. Because yes, there is a fine line between sultry and slutty. And I feel I know when it's been crossed.
And with this year's "fashion photo shoots" I'm afraid the Miss USA competition has crossed that line. I was uncomfortable with some of the shots that were shown during last year's competition, but these latest pictures have pushed even farther. Fish net stockings, bustiers and garters are fine for an adult crowd -- but not for my daughters.
I don't want them to think that sex is what will get them farther in life and I don't want them to think that playing into sexual stereotypes is what garners attention. While I also don't want them to think that prancing around in a skimpy bathing suit is essential to their success, there is nothing wrong with being fit and looking good.
Just like I don't buy the arguments from law school students who think they are "laughing their way to an education" as they earn their tuition at Hooter's, I don't buy that this step was necessary to attract attention. Donald Trump has mocked the more prudent Miss America officials, pointing out that their organization is suffering in the ratings department.
So you got your publicity and it may lead to better ratings -- but at what cost to women, Mr. Trump?
A poll on Good Morning America's website indicated that over 50% of those who responded feel that the Miss USA officials have gone too far this time. I concur, and we won't be watching this time. It might be too much to hope that a sufficient dip in the ratings will show Trump & co. that we're just not buying what they're selling, but I can dream...
(And I can also dream that there will be sufficient advertising for the Miss America pageant so we can tune in to show our support for their family-friendly -- and truly women-empowering -- ideals!)
It will be hard to top watching Miss Virginia win the Miss America crown... but we'll be tuning in!