beauty queen politicians

Guest blogger emerita Hilary Levey Friedman has a nice article in Slate today about beauty contest winners who go into politics. The take home point? The pageants now focus on scholarship, which attracts a very different type of contestant:

Navigating the reign of reality television, the female athlete-turned-superstar, televised Victoria’s Secret fashion shows, and the soaring  rates of women in higher education, Miss America has increasingly become more serious, emphasizing scholarship money and advocacy (though, yes, to win, a woman still needs to wear a bathing suit on national television). In 2012 the broadcast enjoyed its best ratings in eight years. As the Miss America brand evolves, the American political system/media circus continues to devolve. One world gets more serious, one gets less, and the two collide somewhere in the middle: The time seems right for the beauty-queen politician.

Makes sense: free publicity + social skill + strong intellect = political career. I’d also add that in other parts of the world, the beauty queen politician is already common. Imelda Marcos was a pageant winner and model, before going into politics.

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Written by fabiorojas

June 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Posted in culture, fabio, leadership

2 Responses

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  1. I agree that politics is becoming much more akin to a beauty pageant, even for men. Yet the norms of beauty and attractiveness are far more restrictive for women than for men (and generally require more bodily display).



    June 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm

  2. The Slate article makes an argument about future beauty pageant politicians, but downplays the somewhat inconvenient (to the argument) fact that beauty pageant contestants are already overrepresented in politics, especially conservative politics. In addition to Sue Lowden and Sarah Palin, who are mentioned in the article, Michelle Bachmann was also a beauty pageant contestant. Christine O’Donnell may not have been in a pageant, but she was described by supporters as “presidentially cute” and surpassing Palin in beauty (implying that if she had wanted to compete in pageants, she would have done well).

    For a while, the Tea Party was trying to organize its own pageant, Miss Liberty America (celebrating “liberty, the military, and the documents of our founding fathers”), although I don’t know if it ever came through.

    The simple explanation is that it’s not so much that pageants are changing, but that beautiful women are more likely to be successful in politics than less attractive women. No real surprise there.



    June 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm

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