East Timor Crisis: Storm greets Miss America's loosening morals
Wednesday 15 September 1999
And now - to believe outraged traditionalists - the whole moral edifice of the contest is about to come crashing down. Starting next year, the organisers say, it will be OK for contestants to have had a divorce or an abortion. No longer will women have to swear that they have never been married or pregnant. All they will have to do is sign a document saying they are not married now, are not pregnant, and are not "the natural or adoptive parent of any child". Past indiscretions will be entirely overlooked.
In a contest that has traditionally liked its winners to be wholesome all-American beauties - a coded way of saying tall, white, blonde and virginal - the new rules are causing palpitations. "Miss America has a long history of high moral standards and traditions, and I'm opposed to anything that changes that," thundered Libby Taylor, president of the National Association of Miss America State Pageants.
"It will ultimately lead to the destruction of the Miss America programme," said Leonard Horn, Miss America's long-serving chief executive, who stepped down last year.
Theoretically, the change was prompted by tough anti- discrimination laws in New Jersey, where the pageant takes place. But Mr Horn does not buy that, arguing that no legal challenge has ever been mounted against the contest on those grounds. It also seems a bit convenient that the announcement comes just days before the telecast of this year's contest, generating gobs of publicity for an event that has been slipping inexorably in the ratings.
Like a fading beauty who tries to hide her wrinkles with ever thicker layers of make-up, Miss America's attempts to maintain an air of purity have grown increasingly laughable. This year's presenters are none other than Donny and Marie Osmond, whose teeth and hair may have wowed the nation in the Watergate era but have long since been consigned to obscurity.
Since the no wedding-bells rule was introduced in 1950 - after Jacque Mercer caused a stir by getting married and divorced during her reign - the competition has been dogged by mini-scandals. In 1984 the first black Miss America, Vanessa Williams, was forced to resign after Penthouse magazine announced it was about to publish naked photos of her as a teenager. The 1998 winner, Kate Shindle, turned out to be the daughter of a former member of the Miss America board of directors.
Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas
- 2 Isis release 'Flames of War' video warning Obama of attacks troops could face in Iraq
- 3 Pakistani passenger power forces two politicians off plane
- 4 Say yes to 'no-poo': It's been three years since I stopped washing my hair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...
£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...
£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...