Do Pageants Exploit Women or Make Them More Confident?

Jun 25, 2013

Why is the Miss American pageant held in September? The apparent answer lies in its origins in 1921 when Atlantic City businessmen came up with a beauty pageant as part of a "fall frolic" festival that would extend the resort areas season past Labor Day.  The first Miss America was chosen from among twenty beauties attending a symbolic King Neptune who was also depicted as bening attended by twenty black slaves. I know.  Actually, this was the first stab at something like this. P.T. Barnum tried something like it in the middle of the 19th century but slammed up against Victorian attitudes that wouldn't accommodate the live exhibition of women. The business has changed over the years and now includes shows like "Toddlers and Tiaras." We lay it all out for you with help from Miss USA, Miss Connecticut, former Miss Connecticuts, a body image expert, and self-titled pageant mom. You can join the conversation. E-mail colin@wnpr.org or Tweet us @wnprcolin.