Miss America Pageant, from tattoos to racism.

Miss America Pageant, from tattoos to racism. Miss Kansas Theresa Vail was a favorite on social media [photo via Buzzfeed]

THANK THE pageant gods the Miss America Pageant bailed out of Las Vegas, Nevada and is back in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It’s where it belongs. The Miss America Pageant always stirs up controversy, which is usually fake outrage or just plain 1950s stereotyping raising itself from the dustbin of history, where feminists think the Miss America Pageant belongs. This year it was out right racism.

Buzzfeed logged the slurs, with comments filling an unending web page.

Miss America Pageant always brings controversy, but this year it brought racism.

Miss America Pageant always brings controversy, but this year it brought racism.

In my day, during the modern feminist revolution of the 1970s, the outrage came in the guise of a rumor that one sponsor had fired a Miss America for not shaving her arm pits, which was noticed while she waved during a parade!

Associated Press reporting:

Davuluri’s victory led to some negative comments on Twitter from users upset that someone of Indian heritage had won the pageant. She brushed those aside.

“I have to rise above that,” she said. “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”

[…] Her first runner-up was Miss California, Crystal Lee. Other top 5 finalists included Miss Minnesota, Rebecca Yeh; Miss Florida, Myrrhanda Jones, and Miss Oklahoma, Kelsey Griswold.

In the run-up to the pageant, much attention was given to Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, the Army sergeant who was believed to have been the first Miss America contestant to openly display tattoos. She has the Serenity Prayer on her rib cage, and a smaller military insignia on the back of one shoulder.

… In a Twitter message Sunday before the finals began, Vail wrote: “Win or not tonight, I have accomplished what I set out to do. I have empowered women. I have opened eyes.”

Can’t help but applaud Miss Kansas Theresa Vail (pictured at the top). The skin art of tattoos should be openly displayed and not count against the contestant who has so much going for her, as Ms. Vail obviously does.

Empowering women is the foundation of the Miss America Pageant, especially young women who need the money, which almost always comes in ways well beyond the pageant itself. What the Miss America Pageant adds to a girl’s resume comes through the poise most gain through the competition and the amount of confidence it takes to go through a top tier pageant, not to mention the exposure and publicity that can help launch or further your career.

The Miss American Pageant logged some firsts this year and it will still infuriate some feminists. It’s not all about beauty, but it’s silly to say that looks in America, no matter where a woman competes, doesn’t give you a leg up. Just as obvious is the fact that if you’re good looking you can also find it hard to be taken seriously. As feminism goes, I’ve always believed that modern women should use all we’ve got to get what and where we want. If you can’t deliver after getting a door opened by your charisma, which goes well beyond looks, degree and accomplishments, you’re beauty won’t save you.

At the Miss America Pageant, during the famous boardwalk parade.

At the Miss America Pageant, during the famous boardwalk parade.

Feminists have railed against the Miss American Pageant, going back to my day, a story I’ve told many times. N.O.W. picketed the Pageant the year I was in it. One day walking out of my hotel, the long gone Chalfonte Haddon, a feminist from N.O.W. confronted me asking how I could humiliate myself, parading around on stage in a bathing suit. I simply said, “You want to pay for my college tuition?” Then off I went in my limo.

I don’t watch the Miss America Pageant anymore, but have only fond memories of the experience, which jettisoned me into getting appearances in modeling and commercials, as well as performances at trade shows where I was very well paid, not to mention multiple scholarships that included those outside the Pageant, that enabled me to attend college, which wouldn’t have been easy otherwise.

2014 Miss America Nina Davuluri is of Indian descent.  [photo via Twittter]

2014 Miss America Nina Davuluri is of Indian descent.
[photo via Twittter]