Do Pageants Exploit Women Or Make Them More Confident?

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Kaitlyn Tarpey.
Photo:Chion Wolf
Heidi Voight.
Photo:Chion Wolf
Darci McHenry.
Photo:Chion Wolf
Dianna Hampton-Dawson.
Photo:Chion Wolf
Reigning Miss Connecticut Kaitlyn Tarpey crowns Colin McEnroe.
Photo:Chion Wolf
Reigning Miss Connecticut Kaitlyn Tarpey crowns producer Patrick Skahill.
Photo:Chion Wolf
Chion Wolf is crowned Miss Asylum Hill.
Photo:Heidi Voight, filtered through Instagram
Do Pageants Exploit Women Or Make Them More Confident?
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Do Pageants Exploit Women Or Make Them More Confident?
Why is the Miss American pageant held in September? The apparent answer lies in its origins in 1921 when Atlantic City businessmen came up with a beauty pageant as part of a "fall frolic" festival that would extend the resort areas season past Labor Day. 
 
The first Miss America was chosen from among twenty beauties attending a symbolic King Neptune who was also depicted as bening attended by twenty black slaves. I know. 
 
Actually, this was the first stab at something like this. P.T. Barnum tried something like it in the middle of the 19th century but slammed up against Victorian attitudes that wouldn't accommodate the live exhibition of women. The business has changed over the years and now includes shows like "Toddlers and Tiaras."
 
We lay it all out for you with help from Miss USA, Miss Connecticut, former Miss Connecticuts, a body image expert, and self-titled pageant mom.
 
You can join the conversation. E-mail colin@wnpr.org or Tweet us @wnprcolin.

  

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EMAIL FROM SARA:

I have always been a fan of pageants, regardless of contestants age. It's never too early to teach our baby girls that 'success' begins with a suck and ends with sex. Being the parent of a 14 year old boy I never got to experience being a pageant mom. When my son was two I came up with the idea of a pa-'gent' in which young boys could dress up in buttless chaps or any other type of buttless pant with a cucumber stuffed up front. We could paint on facial hair and muscles and encourage them to dance all around ala Magic Mike style. Hell, if little girls get to wear padded bras and lip liner, than boys should have the same opportunities. My idea was never well received as some people had the nerve to accuse me of sexualizing a child. Even as I explained that my pag-gent would act as a starting point to a fufilling future as a child star. Look how well this worked out for MacKenzie Phillips, Michael Jackson and Lindsay Lohan. I applaud your courage to take on such an important topic. I can't imagine that there were any perk(ies) to sharing studio space with a beauty queen. Keep up the good work.