Miss America Contestants: Are They Degraded Or Empowered?

Over the last few years the annual Miss America Contest has declined somewhat in popularity. As Jenice Armstrong writes in her fascinating op-ed on Philly.com:

“Feminists will be all over me for this. We’re supposed to rage against the sight of all those young women being ‘exploited.’ In my line of work, the tendency is to snark about the contest. Whatever, I don’t ride that bus. Too much negativity,” writes Armstrong.

So it raises the often-asked question: Is the Miss America contest degrading for its participants or does it empower them? Well, the answer to that question is, of course, subjective, and really a matter of opinion.

Michelle Strom, the host of Obsessed With the Dress, said:”It’s almost like we’d rather make Snooki glamorous than someone competing in Miss Amer,. She gets more attention than Mallory [Miss America 2013] does, and I find that offensive.”

She continued: “People are looking for the train wrecks… Women can be very catty and judgmental. Seeing someone being beautiful and talented makes people feel inferior to other people. I can understand that there is a little bit of jealousy there. I wish people would just support people who are doing something more than the status quo.”

Strom dressed the winning Miss America in 2011.

The Miss America contestants often use the competition as a springboard to jump start their careers. Gretchen Carlson, from Fox & Friends, was a former Miss America as was Debbye Turner, from the CBS Morning News.

Turner also spoke about the competition: “I came from a lower middle-class home. I had high aspirations for my education, which was very expensive, and it was a way to augment the cost and to finance my educational goals. It did that in spades.”

She continued: “I don’t think that has changed for a lot of women. he world has changed. Our society has changed over the years. And, yes, there are some women who use it as a platform or a springboard to go into areas of communication or media. But for the 80,000 who enter it on the local level every year, far and away their primary motivation is to win scholarship money to pay for their education.”

What do you think about the Miss America Contestants and the Miss America competition in general? Do you think it has passed its sell-by date in terms of public interest? And is the competition degrading or empowering for the contestants? Share your thoughts in the feed below.