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Pimp My Pageant

mspencers Icon Posted by Miranda Spencer

August 24th, 2007

Tonight while channel surfing I happened on the 2007 “Miss Teen USA” pageant on NBC. Not exactly feminist fare. But since Miss America has repositioned itself as a “scholarship” pageant, with the winner promoting a “platform” like AIDS awareness or literacy, I figured Miss Teen — produced by Donald Trump’s Miss Universe Organization — might also have smartened-up. Wrong. They’ve dummied it down, and tarted it up.

The opening number, to the tune of Avril Levigne’s “(I Wanna Be Your) Girlfriend,” featured all 50 contestants garbed in Daisy Dukes with midriffs and cleavage exposed, writhing and arching their backs in choreography resembling nothing so much as pole dancing. As each girl introduced herself, she dutifully pushed out her breasts, turned, and wiggled her behind as the camera lasciviously panned up and down her curves. I half expected the contestants to pull up their shirts a la “Girls Gone Wild.”

First event: the swimsuit competition. Though the contestants initially looked demure in their gingham bikinis, that image was soon belied by the music — whose throbbing beat was reminiscent of a strip club’s. On the other stide of the stage, gyrating teen singer Kat DeLuna lip-synched lyrics like “I want to feeeeel you…” as the girls strutted by.

Did I mention some were as young as 15?

And now a message from our sponsor. “Secret antiperspirant: Because you’re HOT!”

After the evening gown (prom gown?) contest, a filmed montage featured the girls’ answers to random questions (What’s your favorite shade of lip gloss? What’s your guilty pleasure?). Shades of Playmate of the Month.

Then it was down to the five finalists for chitchat and questions from the judges. Two contestants revealed themselves to be, like, totally Vals. Two of them wanted to be astronauts. (O, momentary pang of hope!)

Oh well. Miss New Jersey, future NASA pilot, was asked what skills today’s teens lack. She replied: “Public speaking.” Miss South Carolina, asked why a study showed people can’t identify the US on a world map, answered “Because they do not have maps.” Miss North Carolina, asked about the biggest risk she’d ever taken, said: “Snowboarding. ” The exchanges seemed set up to “prove” that teens really are bimbos, barely deserving the dignity of being spoken to.

The winner was Miss Colorado, who managed to give a reasonable answer to her judge’s question:

“Whom do you prefer: Paris, Lindsay, or Nicole?”

I wish I were making this up.

Never mind that today’s “Miss Teen USA” pageant sets feminism back 40 years, back when airlines had slogans like, “I’m Kimberly. Fly me!” Or that, creepily enough, you can buy photos of the bikini-clad high schoolers on the pageant website. These young women are being proferred as role models.

I can only think of my spunky, whip-smart 12-year-old cousin Jenny, and hope her TV was broken last night. She doesn’t need to know that in a few years she’ll be old enough for NBC to pimp her out to America.

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