Not that the Miss America pageant hasn’t seen its share of controversy over the years, but this year’s competition might prove to court the biggest brouhaha yet. As news outlets are reporting there is a veritable civil war breaking out over the changes the pageant (now referred to as a ‘competition’) has brought to light this year for Miss America 2018.
And one of the biggest changes concerns couture.
The shake-ups in the Miss America camp seem to have started in earnest when former Fox News host, Gretchen Carlson, (a 1989 Miss America herself) took over as chair of the beauty contest (sorry, ‘competition’) and with the installation of several other past winners in key leadership roles at the start of 2018. The Carlson team have implemented changes that have brought both criticism and solidarity to this 97-year old event, with critics and supporters indeed lining up on both sides of the isle.
The biggest change for many? It’s the one seemingly addressing changing times, women’s roles and fashion; Carlson and Co. removed the pageant’s famous swimsuit competition from the show.
Many television markets claim they would not air the show without the iconic display of flesh, while others say they certainly would…and be proud to, in fact. Still, nobody has yet to go on record that the current #MeToo climate has prompted Carlson and her team to ban swimsuits. With no reason given we can all just speculate.
Other changes? The pageant is now being referred to as a “competition,” as mentioned, the contestants as “candidates” and a new scoring system emphasizes talent first and foremost.
Twenty-two state organizers are claiming that the drastic new changes came without their knowledge or they were fed misinformation about the new plans. Last week these organizers signed a petition as four new board members of the Miss America competition resigned in the drama.
Playboy has unveiled Nina Daniele as their latest Playmate of the Year. Why is this such a big deal? Nina is the first woman to be bestowed this an honor since the magazine’s founder, Hugh Hefner died, last year. She also appears on the cover of Playboy as the magazine sports a brand new logo. Instead of the usual, ‘Entertainment for Men,’ the seminal men’s magazine will now sport the ‘Entertainment for All’ motto.
In an 11-page retro-style pictorial, fashion photographer Jennifer Stenglein has shot Daniele as the infamous “Femlin” pinup character. This cartoon was created by Hefner and illustrated by Playboy favorite Leroy Neiman, appearing first in the magazine in 1963. Femlin has as much been featured in the magazine’s pages as on lots of Playboy product. She was a sure totem of an age when the magazine was not only the forerunner of its kind but when the nude centerfold was indeed the ‘center’ of the magazine’s appeal, along with its fiction, “The Playboy Interview” and reviews of music and film. In 2015 nudes were banished from the Playboy, but Hefner’s son Cooper, who runs the brand now-and recently changed the motto-also re-introduced nudity to the magazine last year. That March/April 2017 release was the issue that Nina first appeared.
In an era of #MeToo and the consistent attention on women’s rights, the argument of Playboy’s relevance, even its possible propagation of negative stereotypes, especially in light on the nude now reinstated (and the press that a new Playmate Of The Year is already getting) is a weighty concern for many. But as Connor wrote in a press release he sent to Fox News:
“Playboy’s content has always been and always will be created with the male point-of-view and our take of masculinity in mind. But the truth is the Playboy brand now appeals to a hugely diverse group of fans, including a very substantive way, women who intersect with Playboy at our events, clubs and through our products and fashion collaborations.”