Good Looking Lies

Things were different back then. There was no Victoria’s Secret catalog for young boys to sneak up to their room. If they were lucky enough to get their hands on an old Playboy, they were too afraid of mom finding it and dad whipping off his belt, proclaiming “this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” It was a lie. And every year, we watched the Miss America Pageant.

Winning the pageant was a big deal, and many winners went on to careers in entertainment and news media. It was a stepping stone to stardom. But we watched it because the women were supposed to be beautiful. It always struck me as a kid that they looked plastic, with hair that didn’t move and faces that would melt in the sun. I stopped watching it as it didn’t interest me, but then, the times they were a changin’. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Plastic Barbies weren’t my thing.

It’s amazing to me today that this anachronism is still around. I would have thought it would die of its own accord, of boredom, of no longer holding the interest of women to participate or men to watch. Yet, it survived. There was a horrible cable show, Toddlers & Tiaras, There is still a certain cohort interested in participating in beauty pageants. To each her own.

But now it’s going to be different?

Nearly 100 years after the first Miss America contest took place in Atlantic City — back then, the ladies wore one-pieces closer to burkinis than bikinis — the organization has said so long to the bathing suit competition. “We are not going to judge you on your outward appearance,” said Gretchen Carlson, the chairwoman of the Miss America Organization.

As Bari Weiss notes, this couldn’t have come from someone more appropriate than Gretchen Carlson.

Ms. Carlson is the perfect person to lead Miss America through this transformation. She won the crown herself in 1988 and went on to a career at Fox News, where she laid the groundwork for the #MeToo movement, blowing the whistle on Roger Ailes long before there were headlines about Harvey Weinstein.

And the message was custom made for this brief moment in herstory.

Miss America 2.0, as the event has been branded, will be “a competition” — not a pageant, Ms. Carlson said on “Good Morning America.”

“We’re experiencing a cultural revolution in our country, with women finding the courage to stand up and have their voices heard on many issues,” she added.

What a load of crap. Bari Weiss goes on to talk about the outward pretense of strong women who, in the privacy of their own lies, calculate calories and endure the burn of hot wax on their lady parts.

The real reason the bikini contest was done away with is that it’s simply too explicit for our euphemistic era, where “strong” is the code word for skinny, and “healthy” for beautiful. Our culture hasn’t stopped objectifying women. We — men and women both — are just getting better at pretending it’s not happening. Ours is the age of Pilates and athleisure, of detoxifying and “wellness,” of organic and biodynamic, of game-ifying weight loss by calling calories points.

The Miss America Pageant was “just too gauche for 2018,” where reality hides behind euphemisms and the jargon of feminism conceals the insecurities of normal women and their tacit desire to be desirable while denying they care at all.

And lest anyone think this to be a woman issue, men do the same. Some manscape and wash in Axe, hoping their male smells are sufficiently concealed to make it through the night. Some hope their pheromones will draw in their soul mate. Nobody burns with desire to have sex with someone they find unattractive. Nobody wants to be that person no one wants to have sex with. Whether you have sex isn’t necessarily the point, as long as they desire you. No amount of scrubbing with Dove will turn your plus (size) into a plus if that’s not what turns them on in the first place.

The game is now all about discretion — of insisting you aren’t working hard while you are absolutely gritting your teeth, of telling your date that you just don’t like bread. While men pretend not to judge women for the way they look, we go to great lengths to pretend we don’t care, either.

There was a time when the shift in the mating ritual was to remove the pretense. Women took off their bra instead of putting on their Spanx. Hair was natural, whether it was straight or curly. Apparently, it wasn’t sufficiently satisfying, as both men and women soon shed their Levis for jeans that gave them the “look you want to know better.” All the pretense rebounded.

And so we blend leaves together and call it “delicious” and “juice” instead of a mealy sludge.

We wear stilts to hike around concrete jungles and lie about how they are anything other than medieval torture devices.

We get the tiny horns on the tips of our fingers and toes painted in shades so subtle that heterosexual men don’t even realize we got them painted at all.

We shell out hundreds of dollars for magic elixirs and oils the size of Theranos Nanotainers that don’t even promise youth but boast that they are “clean.”

We lie under fluorescent lights and hold our thighs open for strips of burning hot wax while we chat about the new season of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

I would have thought the Miss America Pageant would have died of natural causes decades ago, yet it survived. And now it’s going to pretend that it’s not about “outward appearance” but be some all-girl version of Jeopardy or America’s Got Talent. All so women can pretend they are strong and fierce and no longer interested in appearing attractive, while still competing in a beauty pageant. You’ve come a long way, baby.

47 thoughts on “Good Looking Lies

    1. SHG Post author

      How could the rating possibly tank when it’s now so much more woke? Surely all the feminists will watch such a competition of female strength.

    2. Scott Jacobs

      This first one will have great ratings, as people tune in to watch the trainwreck.

      The second one see it’s ratings tank so hard they will have to recalibrate the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.

  1. Skink

    I heard, though unconfirmed, the competition will include mud wrestling, dwarf-tossing and original poetry. This could be wrong on the last one.

      1. Skink

        City Boy, there can be no such competition. Bears like breakfast: a couple waffles and maple syrup will make mama forget Boo Boo is playing with a python. There’s no trick to it, so how could there ever be a winner? Without a winner there’d be. . . Hey, wait a minute! You might be on to something!

        1. Pseudonymouskid

          With outward appearances out, maybe it will turn into a fucking awesome game show part ninja warrior, part jeopardy, part arm wrestling, part american gladiators to weed out the weak and dumb. You’re both onto something. Or are we not supposed to celebrate smarts and strength either?

    1. B. McLeod

      When I saw the “Bye-Bye Bikini” headlines, I initially assumed the competition was going nude.

      1. SHG Post author

        As I was about to write an incredibly witty response to your comment, it occurred to me as I pictured naked mud wrestling, what about transgender women?

  2. Ross

    “Not judged on outward appearance”

    Does this mean your BFF Roxane Gay now has a chance to win? I’m sure she’s beautiful on the inside.

    1. SHG Post author

      I suspect that “beauty on the inside” may not be sufficient to overcome other deficits.

  3. Justin

    I’m curious: how do you feel about so many of the MeToo accusers making claims anonymously to media outlets and never having to face any kind of scrutiny because of their public accusation? Do you think this could ever lead to a publication being successfully sued or laws being passed? (I ask because of the part about Gretchen Carlson)

      1. Justin

        You shouldn’t troll your readers so much. I find your takes on things interesting; I’m not trying to be off-topic or disruptive to the flow of comments here.

        Also: robin’s egg blue. 🙂

  4. Turk

    And now it’s going to pretend that it’s not about “outward appearance” but be some all-girl version of Jeopardy or America’s Got Talent.

    You know, throw in the decathlon and there might be something to it.

  5. Marty

    After the “feats of strength” will there be “the airing of grievances” in the new Festivus for the rest of us?

    1. SHG Post author

      I would think that’s a winner for the talent portion: Do you sing or dance? I air grievances, Gretchen.

  6. Jesse Nelson

    If it’s no longer a beauty pageant, I’d like to hear the official (woke) explanation of exactly what these women are being judged on (frankly I’m not sure why it’s OK to judge them at all, shouldn’t this be some sort of lottery arrangement to avoid such harsh value determinations?)

    If we see the typical parade of hotness up on stage, then who’s determining the qualifications of these women? Why don’t I see the girl from our IT department up there?

    1. Keith

      Out: Judging women based on genetic gifts of beauty.
      In: Judging women based on genetic gifts of ability & intelligence.

      How…. progressive.

      1. B. McLeod

        Finalists will be selected based on their speed working a Rubix Cube. These will be winnowed to the runners-up via a competitive GO tournament, with the ultimate winner determined in a short series of chess matches. The ratings will be phenomenal.

          1. B. McLeod

            Maybe during the commercial breaks, so they can let off a little steam. All that chess can be very stressful.

  7. CLS

    This is an unintended casualty of the third wave intersectional feminist lies about “body shaming” and how women are “healthy at any size.”

    This isn’t true for men or womyn. Inhaling six pints of Ben & Jerry’s isn’t good for your body. Being overweight has negative physical consequences. Yet if we point this out at any time the blue-haired gender studies harridans start in with how we’re being sexist, that we’re perpetuating “rape culture,” and “fat-shaming” womyn with our objectified standards.

    When this announcement came out, two people I know in the fitness business asked the question “Are we not allowed in this country to celebrate beauty anymore?” I think underneath that was a tone of “Will we still have jobs in ten years?”

    The more the shrieking mobs have their way, the less sure I am of the answer to their question.

    1. SHG Post author

      A real feminist would shrug and say, “if some woman wants to do a beauty pageant, that’s her choice. The beauty of feminism is that it allows each of us the agency to make whatever choice is right for her.” But of course, that would not suit the authoritarian need to dictate to other women what they cannot do, as it would undermine the narrative.

  8. Liam McDonald

    I find Gretchen Carlson’s comment disingenuous but not for the reasons you would think. Ask any woman why she wears heels and paints her nails and watches her figure and she will tell you honestly. It’s not to attract men. (We are neanderthals that require very little effort to impress) They do it to shape their image in front of other women.

    The only people women hate more than men are other women.

    1. SHG Post author

      That’s a good point. Women tend to be far more critical of other women than men do, and much of what women do to “impress” is meaningless to most guys. After all, does any straight guy care what shoes a woman is wearing?

  9. Kay

    Women of size love designer shoes, handbags, sunglasses etc. (Small handbags cost well into the thousands of dollars.) They can’t (won’t) be thin but they gleefully spend money to be “fashionable”. I have always assumed it is their way of “going to the gym”. Straight guys don’t get that nuance either, much to the chagrin of said woman.

    I remember in college days–male friends would ask if I had a roommate–I would reply yes–she is very sweet and has a good heart. Oddly, that response did not result in getting her a date.

    1. SHG Post author

      I have a wife and daughter. I am painfully familiar with the cost of handbags. But the resale market in gently used Birkins is strong.

      There’s an irony about sexual attraction. What makes a person attractive is very personal, and I like to think there’s a right person for everyone. I am incredibly fortunate to be married to the most beautiful woman in the world. I wish everyone could be as lucky as I am.

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