Saturday, January 26, 2008

Video: Has Miss America Become The Valley of the Hooters & A Strip Pole?

Sure, we understand the need to update the Miss America pageant. But the organizers have taken things a strut, hip roll, and double bounce too far this year.

This year's bikini bash lacked only a stripper's pole to make it clear how far the current organizers of the Miss America pageant would go for ratings. Ironically, several contestant questions from the public focused on the effects pop tarts like Lindsey Lohan have on young girls as role models.

This is not to say that the contestants fall into that category--not at all. But the pageant gurus poured them into those molds in the swimsuit category. Was it really necessary to present these role models in skimpy bikinis that left buttocks falling out of the teensy material and barely-covered breasts bouncing like run-away volleyballs?

The sorry choices in swimwear, in the case of some contestants, revealed a return to the values of "The Graduate." Given the Miss America move to heat up the swimwear presentation, that movie had it right: the future is in plastic.

If Miss America wishes to move into the "modern" world and still present itself as a "scholarship pageant," then let's get with modern needs: there are enough skimpily clad bimbos around already. These young women, on the whole, have brains, charm, and talent to offer.

Degrading them, and the pageant goals, by having them strut in itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikinis was a bad, bad choice. They deserved better.

We here at Peanut were wondering if any of the finalists would have the guts to go against the crowd and appear in a one-piece swimsuit. Sure enough, one finalist did: Jill Stevens.

Stevens was the all-American favorite, voted back into the pageant by American fans after the first round of eliminations. The 24-year-old Afghanistan war veteran and combat medic gave the crowd hard-core push-ups when she was eliminated again.

The Army National Guard soldier showed grace and the courage to forge her own path, based on her values. Now, that's a Miss America quality that should be encouraged and rewarded.

CAPTION: A real role model, eliminated twice from Miss American finals: Miss Utah, Sgt. Jill Stevens visits with a young Afghan girl, Halima. Utah soldiers sponsored Halima in getting eye surgery that saved her from being blind.

The four-week "Miss America: Reality Check" show set the groundwork for tonight's pageant. Organizers missed an important reality check: America is pretty darned sick of women being defined by cleavage and butt cheeks.

The pageant's attempt to heat things up by unraveling bikini competition to barely-above-g-string status was a bust. Some contestants looked a little uncomfortable with the obvious requirement to "work it, girl" instead of simply demonstrating professional poise and personal grace.

These young women work hard to earn their place in the pageant. They deserve better than what the "new" format presented. In fact, the "new" format, when it came to the "athletic" portion, actually reverted back a few decades: Miss America as a Barbie in high heels and as little clothing as possible.

Tonight's Miss America winner: Miss Michigan Kirsten Haglund, She sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Apparently, the idea of moving American women past "Tits and Ass" (a nod to "A Chorus Line" here) is over the pageant's rainbow.

So, here she is: Miss America. Congratulations, Kirsten. And for next year--could you raise the issue of less T&A and more role-model-appropriate sports wear?

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