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There She Is: 100 Years Of Miss America

Miss America 2009 Katie Stam (3rd R) crowns Caressa Cameron, Miss Virginia, after she was named the new Miss America during the 2010 Miss America Pageant.
Miss America 2009 Katie Stam (3rd R) crowns Caressa Cameron, Miss Virginia, after she was named the new Miss America during the 2010 Miss America Pageant.

The Miss America pageant celebrates its centennial this year.

For some, 100 years of Miss America is 100 years too many.

The show has attempted to adapt to a more modern version of womanhood — emphasizing scholarships and community engagement over beauty and swimsuits.

But is it possible for Miss America to evolve? And even if it does, has the public already moved on?

Author Amy Argetsinger chronicles the history of an institution that’s been plagued with existential questions from the very beginning.

From “There She Was: The Secret History of Miss America:”

Was the pageant bad for women? Was it fair? Was it representative of a diverse population? But she was no longer the queen of a monoculture like she had been in 1968; it made little sense to fret that the pageant was imposing oppressive expectations on a nation of girls, when they mostly weren’t watching it. As a niche sporting event, the pageant suddenly seemed quaint. And arguably healthier than the new competition our culture had designed for young women — where, instead of just objectifying themselves in swimsuits and heels, they were now fighting one another on television for the romantic attention of men, or being fought over as if they were trophies.

We talk with Argetsinger and Miss America titleholders about the past — and future — of the competition.

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