Do We Still Need Beauty Pageants?

Flipping through the channels last night, I stopped at the Miss USA pageant. "Live From Las Vegas!" scrolled at the bottom of the screen, but I couldn't help wonder if this was a re-run from 1975. The cheesy jokes, the swimsuit competition … it all seemed so outdated. Then host Andy Cohen arrived on stage and I realized this is happening now. As he announced the interview portion of the contest, I bit my lip nervously. Remember when Miss South Carolina famously bombed while trying to answer why Americans can't locate the US on a world map? It was painful.

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Luckily, nobody screwed up this time. Most of the girls were given pretty easy questions like "Should we ban supersized sugary drinks?" Not exactly head-scratchers. But 20-year-old Olivia Culpo, Miss Rhode Island, was asked a tougher one: "Would you feel it would be fair that a transgender woman wins the Miss USA title over a natural-born woman?"

OK, even with all the cheesy pageantry, suddenly Miss USA didn't seem so outdated. This question would never be asked 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago. Miss Rhode Island was poised like a true beauty queen, but her answer was thoughtful and compassionate: "I do think that would be fair, but I could understand how people could be apprehensive to take that road. However, there are so many people who have a need to change for a happier life. I do accept that because I believe it's a free country."

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Culpo went on to snag the Miss USA title, and I'm guessing her answer had something to do with it. Sure, the pageant is still all about surface beauty, but does touching on transgender rights make this pageant more progressive?

What do you think? Are pageants still stuck in the past, enforcing superficial beauty? Or is there more to it? Discuss below:

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