Miss America isn’t a beauty contest, anymore

Well, so there. Miss America will no longer judge women on the basis of their physical appearance. Because Miss America is evolving!

I’m all for modernity and evolution, but how does Miss America get away with this kind of “evolution?” After decades of parading women around in swim suits, now they’re going to take a deep dive into contestants’ minds? To the exclusion of judging contestants’ physical appearance?

I don’t mean this as a “woke” insult. It’s just that this plan is terribly off-brand. Like Old Spice feminine hygiene products: it’s not that you’re not allowed, it’s just that you really, really shouldn’t.

Miss America is THE beauty pageant, its garish materialism known world-wide, for better or worse. It’s got its own song. It has it’s own swag. Every teenage girl who wins the Insert-Local-Agricultural-Product-Here Festival gets asked the same question: “does this mean you’re gonna be the next Miss America?” Very few brands achieve the collective-conscience market saturation that the Miss American pageant has.

It doesn’t feel like a wise move to attempt to completely reinvent the pageant. Not only unwise, but likely to disappoint: going from beauty pageant to pageant-of-the-mind – all while still publicly judging women and only women – doesn’t seem like a reachable goal.

I’m also all for lovely women who like to wear pretty things (or not) and get their pictures taken. I’m nobody’s prude, as readers well know. If the Miss America pageant has been a paragon of body-shaming in a culture that left woman no alternative role models, objecting to that fact need not include the belief that woman cannot use their physical attractiveness to their advantage. Lots of people, male and female, find work using their physical comeliness.

Instead, allow me to propose that the problem is that the Miss America Pageant is adopting a definition of evolution that doesn’t match the evidence. Species do not evolve. Evolution happens through the production of new species, often to the doom of the previous species. We don’t need Miss America to evolve: we need evolution to present us with it’s alternative.

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