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Pop Culture

Beauty pageants ... gone wild!

It’s the eve of the Miss America Pageant, and all is not well. A cloud hangs over the 86-year-old institution, as well as every other contest of its ilk. From Miss Universe all the way down to Miss Cheese Curd of Ellsworth, Wis., the whole practice of tiara competition is under fire.

It would be easy to blame the pall on the recent exploits of several prominent beauty pageant winners. The current Miss USA, Tara Conner, attended Donald Trump-ordered rehab, forcing her subjects to endure Trump’s ugly battle with our nation’s moral arbiter, Rosie O’Donnell. Meanwhile, Miss Nevada USA Katie Rees, lost her sash in December following an Internet photo scandal featuring her engaging in “raunchy” behavior with other women in a Florida nightclub. And Miss New Jersey USA, Ashley Harder, relinquished her crown earlier in January on account of her inability to manage her fertility according to pageant rules (she’s pregnant).

Certainly these three unfortunate young ladies failed to live up to the USA pageant agreement, which dictates that contestants abstain from illegal, immoral and inappropriate behavior; that they are not now nor have they ever been pregnant, and are, in fact, female. But let’s be honest. Beauty pageants have been sending mixed message for years. It was a matter of time before contestants started to crack. Frankly it’s surprising it didn’t happen sooner. Face it, this competition needs to take the advice of one Dr. Phillip McGraw and “start getting real.”

Now, Miss USA and Miss America pageants are two separate institutions. Miss USA, for example, is owned by the Trump organization and doesn’t include a talent portion. Miss America is a non-profit organization and presents itself as more than a beauty contest, and prizes include scholarships for higher learning. As proponents proclaim, “Other pageants are looking for a model, but Miss America is looking for a role model.”

But c’mon! The competition takes place in Las Vegas, a city of legalized gambling nestled in a state that gives the A-OK to prostitution. Frankly, this scholarship nonsense — mixed in with a contest that requires contestants use double-sided tape to keep their butts from falling out of their bikinis — just really confusing?

Of course, there were warnings. Let’s not forget 1984’s winner, Vanessa Williams, who lost her crown when Penthouse magazine published the erotic nude lesbian photos she posed for long before entering the competition. But perhaps the pageant should take note: She’s the most famous Miss America ever, with a successful singing and acting career. Oh, the shame!

To quote Ned Flanders, if we are unable to live in “a world more like the America of yesteryear that only exists in the minds of us Republicans,” maybe it’s the pageant that needs to change. Maybe it’s time beauty pageants everywhere finally embrace the female-commodifying practice that feminists mocked in 1968, when they crowned a sheep Miss America. It wouldn’t be hard — just change up a few things to match the young female role models our society values today.

And the new categories are. ...

Frontin’ to the Old Folks
This replaces the “Private Interview” portion of the competition, which previously took place  behind the scenes — kind of like the Oscars for boring technical stuff. The new category, “Frontin’ to the Old Folks” would shake it up reality-show-style. A camcorder follows each contestant as she attempts to trick the judges into believing that she is not a skanky ho. Later, judges will confront the contestant à la Dr. Phil with such incriminating items as printouts of the sexually explicit MySpace posts she made while still in high school, along with topless cell phone pics she and her girlfriends shot in the McDonald’s bathroom after prom. No points are awarded for this category. It’s just fun to see people squirm.

Drinking Past the Point of Intoxication
This category replaces the “Talent” section. And isn’t the ability to hold one’s liquor a talent unto itself? Point gain is directly inverse to the contestant’s age but proportional to her blood-alcohol level. For example, if a contestant is below the legal drinking age of 21, yet has a blood alcohol level well above .08 percent, her score soars.

Making Out With Other Girls
Here’s where the recently deposed Miss Nevada could’ve really cleaned up. Easily facilitated by the previous “Drinking” portion of the competition, this category replaces “Evening Wear.” Of course, gals are more than welcome to wear evening outfits, as late-night alcohol-serving establishments are where this sort of behavior takes place — but only if there are lots of boys around to notice them, see how hot they are, and they strike the perfect “OH, PLEASE, DADDY DIDN’T GIVE ME ATTENTION! WON’T YOU PLEASE LOOK AT ME!” pose. Of course, the skankier the club clothes, the better! Think: “What would Paris Hilton hardly wear?”

Flash Your Hoo Hoo
This category replaces “Lifestyle & Fitness in Swimsuit.” And what better way to showcase your vim and vigor than exposing your denuded vagina to an unsuspecting crowd? Bathing suits are so Victorian! All-American mom Britney Spears proudly paraded the portal through which her baby and her older baby entered the world. Now, the alcohol-poisoned, pretend-lesbian, future mothers of America have their chance to do the same.

Finish This Sentence: “I’m Not a Feminist, But ...”
Replacing the “Onstage Question,” this category is no longer random. Each contestant has the opportunity to answer the same query. The tricky part of this category isn’t delivering a thoughtful response such as “Girl power is awesome!” or  “Sometimes I only shave my legs to the knee.” Contestants are actually judged by the number of “likes” they can fit into their one-minute response, as well as how many statements they can verbalize as a question. For example: “Like, I totally have gratitude to, like, the women who fought all the, like, battles before me? And that, like, it’s cool that I, like, totally have the freedom to like vote or, like, not wear a bra?” Extra points if she can squeeze in a shout-out to her friends back home.

Once these new categories are instituted and TV’s Mario Lopez crowns the new Miss Whatever, it won’t be money for education that the winner receives. In the era of rich, talentless heiresses creating booming careers on just the millions of dollars to which they have access, education is no longer a priority. Instead, the winner receives a lifetime supply of refined botulinum toxin injections and breast implants, as well as the opportunity to pose for Playboy in 10 years when her failed show-biz career finally grinds to a halt.

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