There She Is, Miss America!
By Patrick F. Cannon
I see the folks who run the Miss America pageant have eliminated the bathing suit parade from the annual event. High time, I say. While the original intent of the festivities was to encourage people to crowd the beaches at Atlantic City – thus the parade of bathing beauties – I fear that nothing will now help that dreary oasis.
Over the years, the pageant has tried to go up market. While the young ladies have still strutted across the stage in evening gowns and bathing suits, they have also been asked to show off their brains and talents. May I suggest that the results have been decidedly mixed? When questioned about their aspirations, most have earnestly wished for world peace; and one has heard many a soprano sing a show tune, sometimes on key, or a pianist attempt a showy rhapsody. I confess that the occasional budding bird caller has been a relief.
I have not seen the pageant for some years, and apparently I was not alone. It seems the ratings decline had much to do with our heightened sensitivity to women’s issues. The spectacle of all these young women showing off their beauty to ogling men in the audience was considered the very definition of objectification, a word fraught with evil meaning. In my day, they wore demure one-piece bathing suits, but I understand that recently they had started wearing – horror of horrors – bikinis!
Miss America, Inc. now touts the event at a showcase for character and talent. They emphasize that the ultimate prize is not the recognition of beauty, but the academic scholarships that are provided. While entirely laudatory, one wonders if this new direction will enhance the ratings as much as its feminist credibility.
One possible side effect of this political correctness might be to embolden women to stop exposing so much flesh in public. Based on a news clip I saw, the bikinis worn by Miss America aspirants seem like bloomers compared to the ones you can see on any beach these days. What once would have caused an immediate arrest now seems perfectly acceptable. Bottoms like g-strings and tops with the merest strips of fabric are becoming the norm. For young men, it must seem like the golden age of ogling, but shame on them for noticing.
If we can eliminate skimpy beach attire, then perhaps there is also hope for some modesty from those Hollywood thespians that grace the red carpets during the endless “awards” season. Even those who can actually act seem happy to wear dresses that show a good deal of cleavage, a shapely leg and even an occasional navel. While you might consider some of these dresses just a bit on the vulgar side, there is no denying the skill of the dress designers in showing oodles of flesh without the whole ensemble collapsing in a heap to the scarlet carpet below.
Now, I’m told that women are just as much interested in these events as men. Shame on them. Their point of view is likely different, however. While they seem to enjoy the flesh parade for its fashion value, young men (let’s be honest, all men) only watch because their raging hormones demand it. So, if there is some kind of general cover up, I feel sure that men everywhere would stop objectifying the object (if that makes sense), and knuckle down to more sensible pursuits like putting together an unbeatable fantasy football team.
Copyright 2018, Patrick F. Cannon