Monday, September 16, 2013

Chevrolet, Apple Pie, and Miss America – The Tradition Continues – Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, wins Scholarship and Crown

Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, now Miss America - image

One might ask why a Conservative Feminist is writing about the Miss American Pageant – to be perfectly honest – it’s personal - In my final senior seminar at the Elms, I was tasked with taking the side of the pageant, and convincing the class of the validity of that pageant – from an historical perspective. That required some research – and what I found was somewhat shocking. (More on that) One might also note that my child competed in talent pageants, replete with makeup, costumes and hair and makeup – it ran against my grain – but it was the way in which she was allowed to pursue her own “agenda”, and that also opened my eyes to the good and the bad. When one is of an age to remember watching Miss America crowned on a black and white set, the show was what all women tuned into once a year – one might wonder why that one “frivolous” show was so important.

It was, simply put, liberating. Historically, the pageant was begun as a way to extend the summer holiday in Atlantic City, bathing suits at the time were far from revealing, but those women who competed in the first Miss America pageant were escaping from a Victorian era that strangled one both in body and soul. In the ensuing years, the pageant offered scholarships, as well as job opportunities in the entertainment field (Hollywood). The program became and remains single the largest scholarship organization for women in the United States. Without the Miss America Pageant, the women’s movement would have gained little to no steam – had a group of feminist not made repeated attempts at disrupting the program, got lucky enough to catch the eye of one reporter while waiting for results, the “controversy” of the feminist movement might not have finally got significant press. It was a program of fists, and that included diversity, it has and remains one of the most inclusive of organizations, specifically when it comes to women. Therefore, as bad as the talent can become, as much as it riles some that the “fitness” segment is a swim suit, and the questions asked and answered seem banal and painful at the same time, it remains a tradition that has allowed women to further their career goals. They are not seeking a modeling job, they are seeking a means to continue their studies, and or pay off their student loans. They are aspiring doctors, lawyers, many of whom are Rhodes Scholars.

Therefore, when Miss New York was crowned as the first Indian-American (or Asian) Miss American last night, it was in keeping with the organizations history.

However, lacking understanding of what the pageant represents to Americans and American women especially, the media had to play it up – CNN lead with a story about racism and the results. Apparently, several individuals took to Twitter and suggested that a “real American” should have been crowned – it is somehow taken to be something that someone from the right would suggest. One might understand that regardless of the ethnicity, race or state of the final winner, the tweets would have been – malicious. It has little to with being right or left (although one might understand that some of the most racist individuals are from the left); it is about rooting for one’s team and sour grapes.

Miss American, Nina Davuluri and her bio can be found at the website (here).

For those young women who are considering ways in which to pay for college, one might want to buffer their scholarship with an appearance at a local Miss American pageant. The scholarships begin on the local level and continue to the state and national stage. It requires a talent and fitness competition as well as what some might consider an “issue of concern” – any prom dress will do. Unlike other pageant systems, the first in the nation does not require hefty entry fees, or plastic surgery – it requires smarts.

One other note: The Iconic Program, is now Back at Atlantic City, the birthplace of the Organization. It is as American as – Apple Pie, and so is the choice of Miss Davuluiri, who hopes to become a physician, just like her father.

On a personal note, I may have failed to convince the majority of the class of the validity of the pageant – women’s study majors, however they did grant me the “A” – for presentation and historical accuracy. – Go figure.

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