"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
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.