Miss America Pageant Analysis

Decent Essays

“Miss America, National Identity, and the Identity Politics of Whiteness” by Sarah Banet Wieser and “The Patriotic American is a Thin American: Fatness and National Identity in the Biggest Loser” by Cassandra L. Jones tease out the intricate relationship between beauty, race and citizenship through the analysis of two popular beauty and fitness competitions the United States, the Miss America pageant and The Biggest Loser television show. Both argue that the contestants, particularly the winners, are consciously constructed manifestations of the ideal American citizen based on their physical appearances and the conditions for citizenship that those appearances connote. While these pieces do important work in the analysis of the nationally recognizable winners of these competitions as embodiments of the ideals of race, physical fitness and attractiveness within the ideal American citizen, they both fall short in one area that is crucial to the foundations of race, beauty and citizenship: class. Banet-Weiser’s analysis of the Miss America pageant, specifically the 1945 winner Bess Myerson, and the 1995 winner, Heather Whitestone, concludes that the pageant is the site of racialized and gendered national identity, in which moments like the crowning of these women, “contribute to a broader national politics that consolidates whiteness as a dominant ideology” (Banet- Weiser, 68). Thus, as representations of who and what American women, who have historically been used to

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