OP-ED with Former Miss Ohio Teen USA Semifinalist & Soon To Be Miss DC Competitor on New Beauty Pageant Regulations
Debonnaire Writer, Samantha Fay
I can understand why some people applaud the Miss America Organization’s (MAO) elimination of the swimsuit competition as a victory. However, making this change in response to the #MeToo movement sends the wrong message: the presentation of women’s bodies can only be associated with sexism, insecurity, and shame.
Adult women who compete in pageants do so voluntarily. They choose to dedicate time and effort to living a healthy lifestyle. They choose to be judged on their preparation, as do competitive bodybuilders, Olympic athletes, etc. Is it that unfathomable for a woman to take pride in herself and derive positive emotions from showing off her hard work?
To be clear, I’m not in denial of history. For too long, women have been treated simply as objects of the male gaze. If MAO had kept the competition the same but eliminated male judges, I believe that change would have better achieved their stated goal. In fact, that was the case at this year’s Miss USA pageant.
Despite their good intentions, MAO has placed the burden on women–not society at large–to evolve in response to #MeToo. Telling some women their version of empowered womanhood is a liability is not progress, it’s a form of punishment. Feminism is about equality, bodily autonomy, and freedom of choice. If confidence comes in the form of a bikini and evening gown, is that any less valid than a power pantsuit or going braless?
It shouldn’t be. I hope women on both sides of this debate would at least be able to agree on that.
What Are Your Thoughts?
More on this subject: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/06/05/617088219/miss-america-drops-its-swimsuit-competition-embracing-whole-new-era