Saturday night was the Miss America pageant. What? You weren't home watching? Neither was I. And, looking at the ratings, neither was anyone else.
I used to love the Miss America pageant. My sisters and I used to wait for it for weeks, dreaming what the gowns would look like, what the hairstyles would be, and hoping at least one contestant would attempt "Ave Maria" with disastrous results. On the actual night my Mom would make us a special dinner of finger foods that could be eaten in front of the television without ruining the carpet. Then she would watch with us, wrapping our hair up in socks so it would be curly for the next day.
I come from a very sarcastic family. However, during the Miss America pageant, all of that was turned off. We were all rooting for the contestants, envious of their poise, and wondering what miraculous things they would go on to do. We were all under the spell of Miss America.
I don't know when that spell was broken. Actually, not broken, busted to all hell. Now, no one watches the Miss America pageant. And, if they do, it is to make fun of it, or play a drinking game.
I am not trying to defend the pageant, or to knock drinking games. I'm just trying to figure out why something I love in my childhood is now a cultural joke. I know it's not because we have become more feminist. People might say that, but it isn't the truth. My Mom was, and is, a feminist. The mothers of all of my friends were bra missing, Gloria Steinem loving, armpit arm wearing feminists. All my friends loved the Miss America pageant though, and all their Moms watched with them.
I think what really has happened is pageant overkill. When I was a kid the Miss America pageant was the only one out there. Then there was Miss Universe. And Miss U.S.A. And Miss Teen U.S.A. And local pageants. And reality television shows about local pageants. Now, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a potential pageant contestant -- especially if you are in a trailer park. And really, you shouldn't be swinging a dead cat anyway.
I wish I could say I will eventually watch the Miss America pageant with Meg, eating Vienna sausages and mandarin oranges. I doubt that will happen though, and not only because Vienna sausages and mandarin oranges are disgusting. It isn't because I won't want to watch, or spend time with Meg, but because I don't think it will be on. I think these are the last days of beauty pageants. They have reached critical mass, and will soon start dying off. And with what they have morphed into, with the spray tans, and the 2 year old girls worried about "making weight," I don't think that will be a bad thing.
I hope Miss America waves gracefully as she leaves the stage.