Miss America contestant Georgia Frazier, like many rivals, wore a sexy Brazilian-style bikini in this year’s swimsuit competition that provided a revealing look at her thighs and hips. Was it a sign the pageant is drifting toward more overt sexuality in step with the times?
The swimsuit competition has been controversial, if not eye-brow raising, going back to the 1960s when feminists first blasted it for being sexist and demeaning.
At the same time, the pageant was criticized for being too stodgy and out of step with the era’s free-wheeling, sexual liberation. The swimsuit competition was the lightning rod each time.
In the face of criticism, the pageant polled viewers in 1995 to gauge whether the competition should be dropped. Eighty percent reportedly wanted to keep it.
Apparently most didn’t want to mess with tradition.
It’s been a part of the pageant since its inception in 1921. Contestants, however, were required to wear one-piece swimsuits. Two-piece swimsuits were only allowed for the first time in 1997, according to a history of the event.
Ironically, the move was made in the name of “feminism” and “individuality.”
In a further tip to feminism, a new “lifestyle and fitness” category was created for the competition in 2001, with a shift in emphasis to “physical fitness, poise and posture.”
The decision green-lighted contestants to walk across the stage in bikinis and high-heels. But suits back then are nothing like those now. They were high-waisted and covered the hips, posterior and in some cases the navel.
In contrast, this year’s suits were cut lower and higher, raising the age-old question: Is the competition simply a ratings booster?
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