Saturday, January 05, 2008

Miss America gets a reality check

The last time I really watched
Miss America was somewhere during the incredible 1980s that included Vanessa Williams being crowned and decrowned the first African American Miss America in 1984. I guess American’s didn’t want to see their princess for a year in the buff in Penthouse Magazine.

A year later pageant protestors succeeded in booting the
Miss California Pageant out of my home town Santa Cruz, California. Santa Cruz hosted the princess event for six decades, according to a 2005 article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Since then my Auntie’s friend, a former Miss America judge, never misses an opportunity to tease me about my disapproval of a contest that encourages women to be
Barbie…even though I liked Barbie when I was a girl because she was a glamorous career woman from astronaut to doctor to even the first woman president.

Times have changed, but apparently Miss America is stuck in a time warp. The
Learning Channel stepped in to give 52 Miss America contestants a hard core makeover on Miss America: Reality Check.

The show premiered January 4 and the tiara tears have already spilled. Stacy London and Clinton Kelly of TLC’s
What Not to Wear already gave a few girls their scathing reviews after riffling through their luggage. But the most interesting part of the first show was when the girls hosted a dinner for “controversy.” Yes, real topics from birth control to same-sex marriage. Yes, it was on the hot plate and the discussion was heated.

America can watch the deconstruction and the meltdowns one removal of sequins challenge after yanking off fake eyelashes challenge after another Fridays at 10 p.m. All of this bleeding mascara leads up to the TLC broadcast of the crowning moment.

Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie hosts the new Miss America boot camp with celebrity judges Mark Liddell, celebrity photographer; Dina Sansing, West Coast editor for Us Weekly Magazine; and Jeannie Mai, makeup artist and founder of the Doll Service.

The best part, Americans have a chance to “really” get to know the beauty queens vying for the honor and to vote for the 16 finalists who will compete for the crown.

So feministas and queer folks here are our best bets based on the platform issues the girl with her state’s crown selected in her profile:

Miss Alaska Cari Makanani Villareal Leyva
Platform issue: Empowering women of all ethnicities to embrace cultures and promote self-actualization.

Miss Colorado Maggie Ireland
Platform issue: opening the door to optimism.
Note: Okay, I don’t know what exactly that means, but I’m throwing my four leaf clover into the ring because she's Irish and does Irish Step Dancing, according to her profile. Erin Go Brah!

Miss DC Shayna Rudd
Platform issue: Best Friends Foundation: Empowerment and Healing Our Urban Communities
Note: Okay, she’s a journalist and minored in African American Studies, according to her profile. I need to give props to us news chasers.

Miss Illinois Ashley Nicole Hatfield
Platform issue: Breast Cancer: Action, Awareness and Advocacy

Miss Kansas Alyssa Anne George
Platform issue: Bullying: the bystander effect
Note: Could that include LGBT youth?

Miss Michigan Kirsten Haglund
Platform issue: Raising awareness for eating disorders

Miss New Mexico Jenny Marlowe
Platform issue: Learn to be powerful against physical and sexual assault

Miss North Dakota Ashley Anne Young
Platform issue: Stop bullying in schools: saving the spirit of a child
Note: Could that include LGBT youth?

Miss Rhode Island Ashley Bickford
Platform issue: The kNOw HIV/AIDS Campaign

Miss Vermont Rachel Ann Cole
Platform issue: building bridges through literacy: closing the education gap.
Note: Okay, her platform doesn’t scream feminist, but during the premier show where the women were asked to host a controversy, same-sex marriage was thrown onto the hot plate. Miss Vermont stood strong for marriage equality as she should coming from one of the few states that have Civil Unions on the books. I know it’s not marriage equality, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

Miss Virgin Islands Janeisha John
Platform issue: Domestic Violence: awareness, prevention, and recovery

Miss Washington Elyse L. Umemoto
Platform issue: Embracing diversity, empowering women

My queerdare didn’t go off for any of these femmes, but maybe because I like butches. No matter. I’m tunning in to see if America selects a real Barbie to represent women.

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