The Miss America pageant has definitely changed over time, ranging from a variety of women with a variety of talents… to a variety of bathing suits.
1921 Miss America Constestants
The first Miss America was a lovely girl from Pennsylvania: “In the summer of 1921, while getting ready to enter the Junior Class of Western High School, Margaret Gorman’s picture was one of approximately one thousand photos entered into a popularity contest held by the Washington Herald...”(missamerica.org)
In 1954, Miss America was a college student: “Evelyn Ay was raised in Ephrata Pennsylvania, and graduated from Ephrata High School. She attended The University of Pennsylvania where she met and became engaged to Carl Sempier. Evelyn represented the state of Pennsylvania in the Miss America Pageant and became Miss America 1954. Upon her crowning, her father announced, “This could happen only in America!” She remains the last Pennsylvanian to hold the title. Evelyn endeared herself to many audiences as she travelled and made speeches nationwide. She was known as an enchanting and captivating speaker.” (missamerica.org)
And finally, in 2014 our Miss America was a lovely woman from New York: “Nina Davuluri was born on April 20, 1989 in Syracuse, New York, to Hindu Telugu parents  from Vijayawada,Andhra Pradesh, India. Her mother Sheela Davuluri is an information technology specialist, her father Chowdary Davuluri is an OB/GYN, and her elder sister Meena is a medical student at SUNY Upstate Medical University.Davaluri lived in Oklahoma for a period as a child until her family moved to St. Joseph, Michigan when she was 10. While in Michigan, she studied ballet, tap dance, and jazz dance. She was also a “high school marching band clarinetist, cheerleader, varsity tennis player and Science Olympiad team member at St. Joseph High School.” Davuluri graduated from St. Joseph in 2007, the same year that her family moved to Fayetteville, New York.Davuluri is the recipient of several awards including Dean’s List, Michigan Merit Award, and National Honor Society Award. She initially attended Michigan State University for one year and then transferred to theUniversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor. While at the University of Michigan, she was a Sigma Kappa (Alpha Mu) and a member of the Indian dance squad, Maya. She graduated in 2011 from The University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA) with a B.S. in Brain, Behavior & Cognitive Science.After graduation, Davuluri moved to New York to be with her family. While there, she took nine pre-med courses at Le Moyne College (as she had originally planned to go to medical school). During her reign as Miss America 2014 however, Davuluri announced that beginning in Fall 2015, she will pursue an MBA instead.”(wikipedia)
I just have to wonder if being a woman in America has gotten more advanced with more possibilities…or more complicated?
I will definitely never measure up to Miss Davuluri’s accomplishments as an American Woman; although I sincerely applaud her achievements! But what does it mean to be an American Woman, if this is the progression of the title?
Even in 1780 we had a strong competition:
“Sentiments of An American Woman, 1780 (Link)
Esther Reed launched the creation of the Ladies’ Association of Philadelphia with the publication of a broadside “Sentiments of an American Woman.” Keenly aware of the limited scope of earlier women’s efforts and referring to women as “brave Americans,” Reed urged women to “render themselves more really useful” to the public good:
” …Born for liberty, disdaining to bear the irons of a tyrannic Government, we associate ourselves to the grandeur of those Sovereigns,cherished and revered, who have held with so much splendour the scepter of the greatest States, The Batildas, the Elizabeths, the Maries, the Catharines, who have extended the empire of liberty, and contented to reign by sweetness and justice, have broken the chains of slavery, forged bytryants in the times of ignorance and barbarity. The Spanish Women, do they not make, at this moment, the most patriotic sacrifices, to encrease the means of victory in the hands of their Sovereign. He is a friend to the French Nation. They are our allies. We call to mind, doubly interested, that it was a French Maid who kindled up amongst her fellow-citizens, the flame of patriotism buried under long misfortunes: It was the Maid of Orleans who drove from the kingdom of France the ancestors of those same British, whose odious yoke we have just shaken off; and whom it is necessary that we drive from this Continent…”
These women weren’t messing around, seriously!
However, on the other end of the spectrum, British journalist Tom Cowell (Mr.Cowell) reflects on the pitfalls of American Women: ” Marrying an American can be absolute torture (I have eight years experience and counting). Let’s run down some of the awful attributes that [I have] had to endure for 12 long years:“
- Obsessed with Mexican food
- Will believe in any new age BS
- The word “woo!”
- Swapping hands with cutlery
- Absurd conception of distance”
Fortunately, he said American Women were very, “Down to earth, had incredible teeth, and enjoyed sex.”
I’m tellin’ ya…between having to have a million Ph.D’s and a thesis in Brain, Behavior & Cognitive Science and having great teeth…it’s hard to know what being a great American Woman really means!
I guess I’ll just have to do my best. It seems to work pretty well for most of us American Women:
Jennifer Wiseman Astronomer
Jennifer Wiseman’s affection for astronomy began with late-night stargazing walks with her parents on their Arkansas farm. Today, Wiseman is an astrophysicist, public speaker, and one of the country’s top leaders on science policy.
Nancy Sleeth: Environmental Advocate
By outward appearances, Nancy Sleeth is an unassuming Kentuckian with her straight, blackish hair and a glimmer of gray. She wears plain colors and a touch of makeup. Yet a deeper look reveals she’s anything but ordinary. With her husband, Sleeth cofounded Blessed Earth, which addresses environmental concerns on Christian grounds. Her recent book, Almost Amish (Tyndale), asks Christians to consider adopting a simpler, more sustainable life.
After her husband gave up his medical practice, the Sleeths sold their New England home, moved to Kentucky, reduced their family’s footprint, and began sharing a creation care message in churches.
“Our homes reflect our values,” Sleeth says. “They reflect who we are inside and what we hold most precious.”
Integrating motherhood and justice advocacy, Tracey Bianchi champions environmental care and supporting women in developing countries. She authored Green Mama (Zondervan) and Mom Connection (Baker), and serves on the pastoral staff at Christ Church of Oak Brook (Illinois).
Ann Voskamp: Author and Blogger
As a Canadian farmer’s wife and homeschooling mother of six, Ann Voskamp presides over schoolwork and an unending pile of laundry. She also maintains a popular blog and contributes to Laity Lodge’s The High Calling site. In 2011, Zondervan released her first book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, which quickly became a New York Times best seller, withPublishers Weekly describing her as a “publishing phenom.”