Miss Colorado, Kelley Johnson, made waves when she eschewed the normal practice of singing or dancing during the talent portion of the 2016 competition, instead opting to give a monologue about her love for her career: nursing.
Her speech resonated with nurses around the country, and we gave Johnson a total raised-hands emoji when she walked onstage in the decidedly un-sexy scrubs with the hope that her badass move would prompt a shift in the focus of the pageant from a show of who looks the best in a swimsuit to who is the most inspirational for women.
But there’s still a long way to go, according to a study conducted by PsychGuides.com. For the report, they examined how the appearance of Miss America has changed since its inception back in the 1920s.
And, as you might expect, they noticed a trend: Miss America — a woman described by the pageant organization as “the type which the American girl might well emulate” — has gotten considerably thinner over time. The average body mass index (BMI) for a Miss America contestant has dropped to an “unhealthy” range, meaning that it falls below the normal range of BMIs (18.5 to 24.9), while the BMI for the average woman has actually gone up.
The GIF created by PsychGuides shows a stark contrast in the bodies of women in the early years as compared to recent ones: Waists have gotten considerably smaller while breasts are generally a lot larger.
Is the report meant to shame thin Miss America contestants? No, but the constant push that “thinner is better” may lead women — especially women in their late teens and early 20s — down a road of disordered eating in order to look like the woman who “represents the highest ideals” in beauty.
Here’s hoping that Miss Colorado turns the tide and inspires more women to focus on how they contribute to society, rather than believing that their only worth is how they look in a bathing suit.