CT Women

Miss America and the Bikini Question

Do modern-day pageants ask young evangelical women to compromise their values an itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny too much?

To one-piece or two-piece? That was the question for many Miss America hopefuls in 1997, when, for the first time in 50 years, the pageant allowed two-piece swimsuits. Pageant organizers say the swimsuit part of the competition, dubbed the feminist-friendlier "Lifestyle and Fitness" section in 2001, is about showing contestants' fitness, poise, and posture. Others have charged it's about boosting TV ratings, which have been sluggish in recent years. In 1995, Miss America let viewers vote on whether to drop the swimsuit section. Eighty percent said to keep it, while 42 of the 50 contestants said "they did not have a problem with waltzing around in public in swimwear." (One dissenting contestant, meanwhile, called it a "veiled strip show.")

It's hard to believe that just over a decade ago, two-piece pageant swimsuits were taboo for Miss America. In this year's competition, all but one contestant wore a black bikini and high heels. (Apparently pageant officials give contestants few swimsuits ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview
To continue reading, join now for free and get complete access.
Already a CT subscriber?
or your full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.

Information about CT Women
CT Women exists to highlight writing by Christian women. We cover trends, ideas, and leaders that shape how women are living out the gospel in our time. Learn more by meeting our advisors and editors.

Read These Next

hide this
Access The Archives

In the Archives

This article is available to CT subscribers only. To continue reading, please subscribe. You'll get immediate access to this article and the entire Christianity Today archives.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber?
or to continue reading.