The Miss America 2016 beauty pageant has been quite stunning, although not in the usual way. According to the organization behind Miss America, Vanessa Williams’ nude photos are now forgiven, which is quite a departure from the past. This declaration has some beauty queens upset, and it’s asked if former Miss Delaware Amanda Longacre will receive an apology for being declared “too old” to compete in Miss America.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, another Miss America scandal erupted during the summer when it was claimed that the Miss Illinois scholarship director was abusing beauty queens.
Beauty pageants and nudity has long been a sticky issue. Miss USA 2015 upset some pageantry fans because she seemingly violated the Miss USA contract by appearing naked on film. When Olivia Jordan’s nude scene was brought up in interviews, she defended her actions because “nudity is sometimes necessary to tell a story.”
But Donald Trump’s beauty pageant and Miss America have also differed on nudity in the past. Miss USA was launched by Catalina Swimsuits in order to promote their swimwear, and some of the Miss USA contests once were featured topless while wearing nothing but body paint. Miss America, on the other hand, have long put scholarships at the forefront, and they also promote a wholesome image.
For example, former Miss America Kirsten Haglund believes that pornography can become a sex “addiction of sorts,” and she also takes issue with nude photos in American marketing.
“It’s a very complex issue. It involves the sexuality hyper-sexuality of women and girls at younger and younger ages, but then for guys too it feeds into sex addiction and all of these issues. It’s an issue of feminism with the way that women are portrayed and why we continue to hold them up as sexual objects in the media, so there’s a lot of problems represented here in advertising. It’s really a reflection of our own brokenness in this country with why we choose to see women that way and why we demand that of advertisements and fashion.”
Angie Meyer has worked with Miss USA for years, and she also believes the trend toward open nudity is bad for the beauty pageant industry.
“It’s alarming that this has been turned into a playboy-esque masquerade,” Meyer said. “When you bring nudity into the equation, the pageant no longer becomes about the entire package of brains and beauty. Rather, the focus shifts to body image. The notion that ‘beauty’ embodies absolute physical perfection is a frightening slippery slope, and quite dangerous for young women around the world to adhere to.”
So, when Miss America forgave Vanessa Williams’ nude photos during the Miss America 2016 pageant, some considered it quite the shock. Williams was stripped of her title in 1983 when the nude photos were released in Penthouse Magazine. At the time, part of the reason the photoshoot was considered so controversial was because it featured a very explicit lesbian sex scene. Williams had claimed the photographer asked for the pose, and that she wasn’t actually having sex, but during the 1980’s homosexual scenes were considered quite scandalous for a beauty queen.
Now, the executive chairman of Miss America, Sam Haskell, says Williams was never in the wrong.
“You have lived your life in grace and dignity, and never was it more evident than during the events of 1984 when you resigned,” Haskell said. “Though none of us currently in the organisation were involved then, on behalf of today’s organization I want to apologize to you and to your mother, Ms. Helen Williams. I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be.”
Beauty queen Natalie McGovern was surprised when this well-known Miss America scandal was forgiven. McGovern claims that if Vanessa Williams’ nude photos deserve an apology, then the Miss America organization should make things right with other beauty queens she believes were wronged in the past.
“Will they ever apologize to Miss Delaware and me for taking away our titles and scholarship money?” McGovern said.
The former Miss Delaware, Amanda Longacre, lost her crown in 2014 based upon a technicality. She was “too old” by only a few months, and was not allowed to compete in the final Miss America pageant, since the rules state that contestants must not only be no older than 24, but they also cannot turn 25 before the end of the year. Longacre sued over the issue, since she had been given permission to compete, and she said the organization had been given all the required documentation related to her age.
Similarly, Natalie McGovern claims she was given permission in Nebraska to compete back in 2012, but the Miss Nebraska board decided she was “too old” after the fact, stripping her of the winner’s crown. At the time, McGovern claims she was told she could not speak out or post any information online about her winning for fear of a scandal. But, when Longacre was so publicly humiliated for her age, McGovern said it was time for amends to be made.
“When I won the title of Miss Alliance 2012 on February 26, 2012, I was awarded a $200 scholarship and an invitation to compete at Miss Nebraska, both which were revoked along with my crown and sash,” McGovern explained. “I was stripped of my title over this same age clause and never saw my scholarship… It’s not about the money, it’s about the principle of the matter, and doing what’s right.”
Based upon this history, McGovern now argues that if Vanessa Williams can be forgiven for a major scandal, then the Miss America organization should clean house on more minor issues.
“I feel like if they can do right by Vanessa Williams, who had one of the biggest scandals in Miss America history, then they can do right by us too with minor grievances,” she said. “Apologize to us all for making us feel less than important and ignored when we rightfully won and should have reigned.”
According to Delaware Online, when the Miss Delaware organization went under new management, they declined to make mention, or apologize, for how Amanda Longacre was treated.
What do you think? Should Miss America 2016 be a time for making things right with all beauty queens of the past?
[Image via Pete Hudeck Photo]