"There She Is, Miss America": The Politics of Sex, Beauty, and Race in America's Most Famous Pageant / Edition 1

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Overview

While some see the Miss American Pageant as hokey vestige of another era, many remain enthralled by the annual Atlantic City event. And whether you love it or hate it, no one can deny the impact the contest has had on American popular culture-indeed, many reality television shows seem to have taken cues from the pageant. Founded in 1921, the Miss America Pageant has provided a fascinating glimpse into how American standards of femininity have been defined, projected, maintained, and challenged. At various times, it has been praised as a positive role model for young American women, protested as degrading to women by feminists, and shamed by scandals, such as the one caused by the Penthouse photos of Vanessa Williams in 1984. In this first interdisciplinary anthology to examine this uniquely American event, scholars defend, critique, and reflect on the pageant, grappling with themes like beauty, race, the body, identity, kitsch, and consumerism. "There She Is, Miss America" provides a fascinating examination of an enduring American icon.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book is a significant exploration of the dilemma of American women in our modern consumer culture between glamour as objectification and standardization and, conversely, as a means of self-expression. These essays edited by Elwood Watson and Darcy Martin encompass issues of gender, race, and nationality as manifested in the history of the Miss America pageant in an exciting manner to show the power of popular culture in the national consciousness."
— Lois Banner, Professor of History and Gender Studies, University of Southern California

"'There She Is, Miss America' is an insightful yet sobering examination of the identity politics surrounding the Miss America Pageant. It is essential reading for those interested in developing their understanding of issues of body, beauty, racial, and sexual identity."
—Robin R. Means Coleman, Associate Professor of Communication, University of Pittsburgh, and author of Say It Loud!: African Americans, Media, and Identity

Library Journal
With this interdisciplinary anthology, editors Watson (history, East Tennessee State Univ.) and Martin (women's studies, East Tennessee State Univ.) examine the history and significance of beauty pageants from a cultural and sociological perspective. The first set of essays traces the history of the Miss America Pageant from its start in 1921, a year after women won the right to vote. During the war years and later, through televised showing, the pageant reinforced the concept of women as objects virginal and wholesome, with an oppressively narrow definition of beauty. A second set of essays addresses questions of racial identity and beauty. One essayist sees the history of black women as pageant participants as a metaphor for changes in race relations over the past 80 years, while another offers a thought-provoking chapter about the connection between the pageant and childhood princess fables. The final essays provide personal insights from pageant participants. Though too scholarly for public libraries, this worthwhile study would be a good addition to a women's studies or popular culture collection in an academic library. Cathy Carpenter, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib., Atlanta Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403963017
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 8/21/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Elwood W. Watson is associate professor of history at East Tennessee State University. Darcy Martin is an adjunct assistant professor in the Women's Studies Department at East Tennessee State University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: "There She Is, Miss America"—Elwood Watson and Darcy Martin
Part One: History
• Bathing Suits and Backlash: The First Miss America Pageants, 1921-1927—Kimberly A. Hamlin
• Miss America, Rosie the Riveter, and World War II—Mary Anne Schofield
• Miss America, National Identity, and the Politics of Whiteness—Sara Banet-Weiser
Part Two: Gender, Race, and Identity
• Beauty, Femininity, and Black Bodies: Challenging the Paradigms of Race in the Miss America Pageant—Valerie Felita Kinloch
• Princess Literature and the Miss America Pageant—Iset Anuakan
• Wiregrass Country Pageant Competitions, or What's Beauty Got to Do with It?—Jerrilyn McGregory
Part Three: Personal Reflections
• I Was Miss Meridian 1985: Sorophobia, Kitsch, and Local Pageantry—Donelle Ruwe
• My Miss Americas: Pedagogy and Pageantry in the Heartland—Mark Eaton
• Waiting for Miss America—Gerald Early

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