If you haven’t watched a Miss America pageant since you were a kid, join the club. It’s been a while since I stayed up late rooting for Miss Indiana, who almost never, ever won, by the way. So I guess I was taken a little by surprise to read about the ways in which the pageants and their contestants have grown up. It’s not just pearly-white smiles hoping for world peace anymore. Pageantry has gotten downright political.
Hilary Levy Friedman does an amazing job at Slate of demonstrating just how the competition has shifted to encourage more thoughtful and socially active young women, many of whom go on to run for office. She shows, “Miss America has increasingly become more serious, emphasizing scholarship money and advocacy.” This change has produced a graduating class of pageant queens who have more political aspirations than any before them.
The more we thought about it here at The Grindstone, the more it made sense. After all, there’s a lot of similarities between running for office and competing in a beauty pageant. I can imagine that these ladies leave the Miss America competition feeling pretty prepared for the campaign trail.