Most Beautiful Girl in the World Beauty Pageants and National Identity

ISBN-10: 0520217918
ISBN-13: 9780520217911
Edition: 1999
List price: $28.95 Buy it from $7.73
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Description: Sarah Banet-Weiser complicates the standard feminist take on beauty pageants in this intriguing look at a hotly contested but enduringly popular American ritual. She focuses on the Miss America pageant in particular, considering its claim to be an  More...

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Book details

List price: $28.95
Copyright year: 1999
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 9/30/1999
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 292
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.100

Sarah Banet-Weiser complicates the standard feminist take on beauty pageants in this intriguing look at a hotly contested but enduringly popular American ritual. She focuses on the Miss America pageant in particular, considering its claim to be an accurate representation of the diversity of contemporary American women. Exploring the cultural constructions and legitimations that go on during the long process of the pageant, Banet-Weiser depicts the beauty pageant stage as a place where concerns about national identity, cultural hopes and desires, and anxieties about race and gender are crystallized and condensed. The beauty pageant, she convincingly demonstrates, is a profoundly political arena deserving of serious study. Drawing on cultural criticism, ethnographic research, and interviews with pageant participants and officials,The Most Beautiful Girl in the Worldillustrates how contestants invent and reinvent themselves while articulating the female body as a national body. Banet-Weiser finds that most pageants are characterized by the ambivalence of contemporary "liberal" feminism, which encourages individual achievement, self-determination, and civic responsibility, while simultaneously promoting very conventional notions of beauty. The book explores the many different aspects of the Miss America pageant, including the swimsuit, the interview, and the talent competitions. It also takes a closer look at some extraordinary Miss Americas, such as Bess Myerson, the first Jewish Miss America; Vanessa Williams, the first African American Miss America; and Heather Whitestone, the first Miss America with a disability.

Sarah Banet-Weiser is Professor in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. She is the author of The Most Beautiful Girl in the World: Beauty Pageants and National Identity (1999) and Kids Rule! Nickelodeon and Consumer Citizenship (2007), and the co-editor of Cable Visions: Television Beyond Broadcasting (2007) and Commodity Activism: Cultural Resistance in Neoliberal Times (2012), both available from NYU Press.

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
"A Certain Class of Girl": Respectability and the Structure of the Miss America Pageant
Anatomy of a Beauty Pageant: The Swimsuit Competition
"If You Were a Color, What Color Would You Be?": The Interview and Talent Competitions in the Miss America Pageant
Bodies of Difference: Race, Nation, and the Troubled Reign of Vanessa Williams
The Representational Politics of Whiteness and the National Body: Bess Myerson, Miss America 1945, and Heather Whitestone, Miss America 1995
International Spectacles, National Borders: Miss Universe and the "Family of Nations"
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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