20 Fascinating Things You Didn't Know About the History Of The Miss America Pageant
20 Fascinating Things You Didn’t Know About the History Of The Miss America Pageant

20 Fascinating Things You Didn’t Know About the History Of The Miss America Pageant

Shannon Quinn - November 12, 2018

20 Fascinating Things You Didn’t Know About the History Of The Miss America Pageant
Vanessa Williams after winning Miss America. Credit: Essence

2. Scandals, And The Pageant Downfalls

Vanessa Lynn Williams was the first black woman to win the Miss America pageant in 1984. As a teenager, she was an aspiring model, and she was manipulated by a photographer to agree to do a racy photo shoot. After she became famous, the photographer tried to sell her nudes to Playboy, who refused to do so without her permission. He tried again with Penthouse Magazine, who seemed to have no issue secretly posting those old photos behind her back. Vanessa Williams was humiliated, and had to apologize to her entire family for her past mistakes and relinquish her title as Miss America. She attempted to sue Penthouse magazine, but her lawyer told her that if it went to trial, the defense would uncover every single detail about her life to try to damage her reputation. She opted to let it go, and try to move on with her life.

Thankfully, Vanessa was able to come back from the scandal. She had a very successful music career. Her song “Save the Best for Last” is still played on the radio today, and “Color of the Wind” was used in the Disney movie Pocahontas.

After this scandal, people began to realize just how much young women in the modeling industry were being exploited. Today, most of the scandals have everything to do with money, like the 2016 scandal where Miss Florida was kicked out of the competition for using her own hair and makeup team, and she turned around and sued Miss America for $15 million. It’s no secret that pageants are big business, and they can make or break a woman’s career.

20 Fascinating Things You Didn’t Know About the History Of The Miss America Pageant
Pageant contestants spend thousands of dollars on dresses, makeup, and hair products. Credit: The New York Post

1. Today, Aspiring Beauty Queens Are Going Broke

Today, beauty pageants cause very polarizing opinions; You either love them, or you hate them. TV shows like Toddlers in Tiaras gave a behind-the-scenes look of the cringe-worthy world we now live in, where literal babies are paraded around by their parents in hope that some day, they might grow up to become the next Miss America.

In the original Miss America, competitors showed up wearing their Sunday Best. Today, they are expected to buy multiple outfits that are incredibly expensive to make. On average, one dress costs hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Their goal is to win a scholarship, but only one girl out of hundreds of competitors will actually go away winning the crown.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Miss America: A History. MissAmerica.org

How Vanessa Williams Endured Her Miss America Scandal. The OWN Network. YouTube.

Fifty Years Ago, Protestors Took To The Miss America Pageant And Electrified the Feminist Movement. Roxane Gay. Smithsonian. 2018.

I Trained Like Miss USA For 60 Days. Michelle Khare. YouTube.

1944 Miss America Who Inspired WWII Effort Dies At 91. Business Insider.

Beauties Are Going Broke Trying To Win Pageant Crowns. Christian Gollayan. New York Post.

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