BOT­TOM LINE

Miss Amer­ica pageant does em­pha­size body type & looks

Manteca Bulletin - - Front Page - DEN­NIS WYATT Edi­tor

Ilike look­ing at women’s legs. I’m not be­ing sex­ist. I’m a guy. I also don’t em­bar­rass eas­ily and I think beauty pageants are stupid. Hav­ing said all of that, I was talked into judg­ing the Miss Placer County pageant 31 years ago.

Most guys would think this would be a great thing to do. Be­lieve me, it isn’t.

The pageant had a judg­ing ses­sion away from the crowds the day be­fore where per­son­al­ity and in­tel­li­gence al­legedly counts. It’s not the type of ques­tions they ask you dur­ing the ac­tual pageant such as “if you were Miss Placer County how would you save the world in 25 words or less?”

Paul Du­gan, a Ro­seville physi­cian who launched Start-A-Heart, asked all the con­tes­tants to de­scribe Placer County’s bound­aries since if they won they’d be the county’s am­bas­sador. I thought it made sense. So based on the answers that day, both Paul and I elim­i­nated one con­tes­tant who thought the county in­cluded Reno, ran all the way to the Ore­gon bor­der, and touched Yosemite.

She won the con­test the next night. The women judges — who were about the most vi­cious fe­males I have ever en­coun­tered when it came to siz­ing up oth­ers of their gen­der — ridiculed both of us. They in­formed us in or­der to win in Los An­ge­les — the home at the time of the Miss Cal­i­for­nia pageant — Miss Placer County had to be blonde. In­tel­li­gence wasn’t a big is­sue. (No blonde joke in­tended that was what they said.)

But even the af­ter­noon of dis­cov­er­ing that half the con­tes­tants were ig­no­rant of ba­sic lo­cal ge­og­ra­phy and po­lit­i­cal bound­aries of the en­tity they wanted to rep­re­sent was noth­ing com­pared to show time.

We were seated at the edge of the stage — the good doc­tor, an ex-pageant di­rec­tor from Or­ange County, a for­mer Miss Placer, a for­mer prize fighter who was had been enough of a celebrity to make the county fair cir­cuit, and my­self. It is im­por­tant to know that while things were ex­plained to us on what we were to judge, we weren’t given spe­cific judg­ing in­struc­tions as to what to look for un­til min­utes be­fore the pageant started.

Like I said, I be­lieve the most in­trigu­ing part of a lady’s phys­i­cal pres­ence be­sides her face are her legs. I’m a guy. Not a pig.

But af­ter glanc­ing through the 20 things we should look for and judge on each con­tes­tant’s legs, I im­me­di­ately be­came self-con­scious. Strike that. It was weeks af­ter­wards be­fore I’d look at an­other woman’s legs with­out get­ting a knot in my stiomach.

Each of the 20 judg­ing points were spe­cific, de­tailed and bru­tal. They talked about curves be­ing too broad, cel­lulite, mus­cle tone, shape of the knee cap, how the thigh and calf mus­cles com­pared in pro­por­tion to each other, and how the back of the legs looked lead­ing from the der­riere side of the Catalina swim suit. Those aren’t the only things I re­mem­ber from the judg­ing sheet. They were just the only ones that were print­able.

When the con­tes­tants came out in the Catalina bathing suits in high heels — I ask how many real women walk around like that — I was turn­ing red. It didn’t help that there were cat-calls from the un­der-25 male crowd be­hind us who were on testos­terone and that the turns, smiles and glances were be­ing done in front of us specif­i­cally for us.

It felt like I was siz­ing up a steer for mar­ket — or worse yet.

I’ve had used car sales­men be more sub­tle.

I looked at Paul. I fig­ured he saw women pro­fes­sion­ally in var­i­ous stages of un­dress and had to size up their con­di­tion as part of his job. So this ob­vi­ously wouldn’t bother him. The ex-prize fighter looked like he had been punched one too many times.

I felt dirty and a bit at a loss about how to go about the task at hand.

So I made the mis­take of lean­ing over to whis­per a ques­tion to the ex-pageant di­rec­tor. I was cu­ri­ous on how to look for some of the ex­act things I was sup­posed to look for as I couldn’t be­lieve there were 20 things crit­i­cal to a women’s legs look­ing great and that each of those were wor­thy of three lines of even more de­tails.

Ever so help­ful, she whis­pered back her an­swer ex­plain­ing to me how one par­tic­u­larly whole­some look­ing brunette, who struck me the day be­fore as hav­ing her act to­gether, was es­sen­tially a phys­i­cal wreck. In the span of 15 sec­onds she com­pletely nit­picked and shred­ded how the front of her thighs looked and how they weren’t per­fect. And I thought she looked pretty good. That ex­pe­ri­ence made me re­al­ize I was wrong to think beauty pageants were stupid. They’re vul­gar.

News this week that the Miss Amer­ica pageant was drop­ping the swim­suit por­tion of the an­nual com­pe­ti­tion ob­vi­ously didn’t bother me a bit. It was a long over­due de­ci­sion.

How­ever, it’s a bit disin­gen­u­ous for Gretchen Carl­son, a for­mer Miss Amer­ica who is the new head of the pageant’s trustees, to claim as she did on ABC’s “Good Morn­ing Amer­ica, that “we’re not go­ing to judge you on your ap­pear­ance be­cause we are in­ter­ested in what makes you you.”

Carl­son is with­out a doubt an in­tel­li­gent, suc­cess­ful per­son. That said who is fool­ing who?

The bot­tom line of Miss Amer­ica is the fact it is a beauty pageant. It’s safe to say you don’t get on the stage in At­lantic City with­out hav­ing a spe­cific look or body type.

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