The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

By Sarah Banet-Weiser,

Book cover of The Most Beautiful Girl in the World: Beauty Pageants and National Identity

Book description

Sarah Banet-Weiser complicates the standard feminist take on beauty pageants in this intriguing look at a hotly contested but enduringly popular American ritual. She focuses on the Miss America pageant in particular, considering its claim to be an accurate representation of the diversity of contemporary American women. Exploring the cultural…

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Why read it?

1 author picked The Most Beautiful Girl in the World as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Starting from the premise that beauty pageants are often dismissed as “frivolous, meaningless, or carnivalesque and therefore unworthy of serious sustained intellectual scrutiny,” (4) Banet-Weiser shows how class and race, patriotism, and community values are embodied on the pageant stage. Crucially, she proves that the Miss America pageant doesn’t mean “one thing to one audience” and explains how what may seem like an expression of individual ambition is more frequently a reflection of national ideals—and biases.  

From Margot's list on how the Miss America pageant was born.

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