Being Miss America

Being Miss America

Behind the Rhinestone Curtain

Book - 2014
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In Being Miss America, Kate Shindle interweaves an engrossing, witty memoir of her year as Miss America 1998 with a fascinating and insightful history of the pageant. She explores what it means to take on the mantle of America's "ideal," especially considering the evolution of the American female identity since the pageant's inception. Shindle profiles winners and organization leaders and recounts important moments in the pageant's story, with a special focus on Miss America's iconoclasts, including Bess Myerson (1945), the only Jewish Miss America; Yolande Betbeze (1951), who crusaded against the pageant's pinup image; and Kaye Lani Rae Rafko (1987), a working-class woman from Michigan who wanted to merge her famous title with her work as an oncology nurse. Shindle's own account of her work as an AIDS activist--and finding ways to circumvent the "gown and crown" stereotypes of Miss America in order to talk honestly with high school students about safer sex--illuminates both the challenges and the opportunities that keep young women competing to become Miss America
Publisher: Austin, TX : University of Texas Press, [2014]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780292739215
Characteristics: x, 236 pages, 20 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Aug 22, 2017

I saw the author in a Broadway touring show this summer and noticed she was a former Miss America. I enjoyed her performance, and being a former volunteer for a local pageant in Washington for six years, I read the book. I did enjoy the story of Kate Shindle (1998) and her personal journey. She is an articulate writer and deftly maneuvers her way through the sticky areas that the pageant leadership has screwed up over the years. It's gratifying as a volunteer to see how the local title, then the state title, impacts a title-holder, through her volunteer work and through the scholarships she earns. But after reading how this program has been mismanaged at the national level, in the back of your mind, you can't help but wonder if it's a program that may have reached its "sell by" date.

Jan 03, 2017

I could not put this book down. Granted, I do have experience with the Miss Minnesota program that goes to Miss America. My experience was completely the opposite of the other reader. I finished this book in a day and was completely intrigued by the nearly 100 year program. There's such a difference between where they started and where they are today.

Jun 07, 2016

I picked up this book because I saw it on the shelf and I vaguely remembered a Miss America who talked to high school students about AIDS and AIDS prevention. The parts of the book detailing her experience as Miss America were interesting. However her personal memoir was interspersed into a very long and extremely detailed history of the Miss America pageant, management and mis-management of the pageant, its current relevance... blah blah blah. I enjoyed a few anecdotes about some of the early winners, but it got so overwhelmingly detailed that only a really diehard fan of Miss America pageant history would enjoy reading this. I couldn't finish it, I got about halfway through the book before I couldn't stand it any more. Ultimately, although I think the author's efforts to use her status as Miss America to spread an important message is laudable, I cannot sympathize with or understand someone who truly believes that Miss America is "for the advancement of young women". It started out as a way to get people to stay in Atlantic City after Labor Day. People who stayed were not there to watch young women get scholarships, they were there to see young women in bathing suits. I think that the Miss America pageant is nothing more than a beauty contest. It's great if they give out some scholarship money or if the participants or volunteers get something out of the process. However, I refuse to believe that the Miss America pageant is important or relevant to America.


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