NBC: Selling Out America's Teens, One Tiara at a Time

By Christine Cupaiuolo — August 29, 2007

Miranda Spencer watches the “Miss Teen USA” pageant on NBC so you don’t have to.

Never mind that today’s “Miss Teen USA” pageant sets feminism back 40 years, back when airlines had slogans like, “I’m Kimberly. Fly me!” Or that, creepily enough, you can buy photos of the bikini-clad high schoolers on the pageant website. These young women are being proferred as role models.

I can only think of my spunky, whip-smart 12-year-old cousin Jenny, and hope her TV was broken last night. She doesn’t need to know that in a few years she’ll be old enough for NBC to pimp her out to America.

The photo part kills me. The pageant website also presents a list of beauty tips that seems to miss its demographic: Who knew so many teens needed help reducing the appearance of cellulite?

And yet it ends with this ironic tip: “Always be true to your inner voice. It’s your personality, strength, accomplishments, intelligence, and self-confidence that will radiate from within and make the world notice the extraordinary you!”

Oh, we only wish.

6 responses to “NBC: Selling Out America’s Teens, One Tiara at a Time”

  1. How can they justify selling the pictures? These girls are underage. I can’t think of any reasons why they should be selling them!!! Clearly, making money knows no boundaries. I am disgusted.

  2. I really hate those beauty pageants, and I love when something scandalous happens. Vanessa Williams in her nude photos, the party girl that Trump “saved,” Miss Vegas did something sexually scandalous, and so did New Jersey. Then we have the geography queen bee that is posted on You Tube. I thought these girls were trying to win scholarships for college?

    I think the idea of winning money for college is a great idea, but I really think they should reevaluate how the contestants are chosen. Perhaps, looking for well-rounded women is a better idea. Let’s look at their GPA’s (measure IQ instead of their waistline), other talents, community involvement, and beauty too, but in a healthy, natural way like inner beauty that they profess. Perhaps it should be be changed from a beauty pageant to a merit pageant.

  3. On youtube.com there is a clip of one of the young women, I belive from South Carolina, having a bit of a semantic struggle with a question given her. The object of the clip is to make fun of the beautiful young woman’s stupidity, and the comments left are acid and hard to take if you have any feeling for our young women at all.

    I posted my own response back, but I’m sure it will be lost in the fray soon. But it went something like this: You have interest in this show because it affords you a look at young women in scanty clothing. They say what they have been trained to say, that, through marketing research and the control of the people who own and operate the pageant, is supposed to be what America wants to hear coming out of the mouth of a young girl verging on her womanhood. I don’t think they are very interested in hearing what she really has to say, especially if it has anything to do with confusion over what her value really is in society, or what “chaste” means to her. It is so cynical, and it is a living conflicted message. What are your options for “being” in that pageant anyway? You are a dog and you’re stupid. You are a dog and you’re smart. You are beautiful and stupid, or you are beautiful and say what we want you to say. It’s sad.

  4. I was flipping through the channels that night and couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I happened on this.

    Where is the public’s outrage? The feminist critique? The news stories in the paper blasting this?

  5. Thanks for linking to me, Christine. I noticed that poor Miss South Carolina’s tongue-tripping made it all over the internet and satirical mainstream TV shows. She even got to come on “Today” and redact her pageant answer and replace it with a more sensible one. Clearly we are both horrified and amused when we see the dumb-chick stereotype come to life.

    One thing I forgot to mention in my original post at WIMN: The Miss Teen USA pageant had no talent competition. Even Miss America has that. Clearly, MTUSA is just about as bad as it gets these days!

  6. Forgive my ignorance, but does anybody really watch beauty pagents anymore? I would think that with the emergence of reality TV and Girls Gone Wild that viewers have gotten used to seeing young women debase themselves for so much less than college tuition.

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