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The Most Beautiful Girl in the World: Beauty Pageants and National Identity Kindle Edition
|Length: 290 pages|
"The Black Presidency"
Rated by Vanity Fair as one of our most lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today, this book is a provocative and lively look into the meaning of America's first black presidency. Learn more
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Banet-Weiser employs interviews with pageant contestants and officials, cultural criticism, and ethnographic research to interrogate the ways in which race, ethnicity, and disability status intersect with constructions of femininity and nationhood on the pageant stage. Pageant contestants must perform feminine respectability and “typicality,” constructs aligned with white femininity; any difference from the white, heterosexual, able-bodied, feminine norm is muted. Vanessa Williams, the first Black Miss America, who lost her crown in 1984 after nude photos of her were published in Penthouse magazine, and Heather Whitestone, the 1995 pageant winner whose deafness was downplayed on the pageant stage and circuit, support Banet-Weiser’s arguments.
Although compelling, Banet-Weiser’s thesis suffers from a curious lack of attention to the evening gown portion of the Miss America pageant as she focuses almost exclusively on the swimsuit, talent, and interview segments. She also fails to adequately extend her discussion of pageants beyond the Miss America competition. As she repeatedly emphasizes how Miss America is different from other beauty pageants, she undermines any effort to generalize her arguments to beauty pageants as a whole.Read more ›
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