I grew up in Atlantic City. I lived over my dad’s grocery store which was two blocks away from Convention Hall on the Boardwalk where the Miss America Pageant was held. To say it was a big deal back then is to put it mildly.
People came from all over to cheer their state’s contestant. As kids, we always knew that school started the day after the Miss America parade on the Boardwalk. I spent more than one Saturday night of my childhood watching the show that was happening only a few blocks away and feeling bad about myself because I knew I could never be that pretty or that thin. And god knows I knew from a very early age that I should never parade around in high heels under any circumstances, let alone while wearing a bathing suit.
My youth was a long time ago. And times have changed in a big way. But the changes in the Pageant have not been big enough to make this announcement by Gretchen Charles anything but a belly laugh: “The swimsuit parade will be replaced with a live interactive session with the judges, the organization announced.” No offense meant, but I’m going to guess that all the contestants will still be very pretty because, as Hillary Clinton found out the hard way, a lot of men only want pretty women to speak so they have something to look at while they ignore what she’s saying.
Seriously, do you think anyone is going to want to watch a bunch of pretty women talking instead of parading around in bikinis so tiny if you sewed all fifty together plus the District of Columbia’s, you still wouldn’t have enough material to make me one bathing suit?
Here’s the thing that the Miss America pageant doesn’t get. It began as a beauty pageant and that is its only true hope for survival, if it deserves to survive at all. If I want to see women having a panel discussion, I’ll turn on The View. If I want to feel bad about my body and all its flabbiness and wrinkles, I’ll watch the original version of the Miss America pageant. And I’m guessing for a lot of men out there, tuning in for the swimsuit competition was the only thing that they cared about.
So you want to change the Miss America Pageant? Here’s a suggestion. Dump the whole thing and convert into a straight scholarship program based on academics and all those other boring things that don’t involve bouncing tits.