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As the father of three girls who doesn’t see himself as that old-fashioned or out of touch, I can’t tell you how much Donald Trump and his enterprise are off base by requiring Miss USA pageant contestants to pose in promotional lingerie photos as part of their participation.
I’m not saying that he’s off base because it’s a bad or immoral or oppressive idea; I’m saying he’s off base because it makes the pageant even more irrelevant than it already is. And certainly less inspirational.
To like these beauty pageants you have to like a little bit of tradition and also a bit of cheesiness. I mean, after all, who ever really thought that Miss America’s answer to the Big Question would really bring world peace, or reading skills to the nation’s children, or an end to crime and poverty? Who ever really meets someone at a party and says “show me you can play the flute”? For that matter, I can’t remember ever being at the beach and seeing women wearing swimsuits and high heels. And listing to “There she is, Miss America” was always sort of the punishment for getting to watch the winner’s make-up leak as she cried her way up and down the aisle.
These pageants had their foundation in raising the bar on what a young woman could achieve. It invited young girls and their parents to aspire to higher things for the future. Mr. Trump, when you ask young girls to aspire to be lingerie models or do racy photos, you’ve lowered the bar. It’s not that modeling is an immoral career for those who choose it, but it’s the wrong thing to require that everyone does it as the price of participation. It’s as obnoxious an agenda proposition from that side of things as requiring them each to pray would be from the religious side of things.
Young women are capable of so much more and they know it. They should be celebrated as such and they know it. And any show that trades the wholesome side of beauty for photos guaranteed to generate internet clics will continue to lose its viewership in the uninspiring abyss somewhere between irrelevance and boredom.
I hope the Miss America pageant–Mr. Trump’s competition–finds innovations to inspire young women to their highest and best of taste of what they can achieve, without the sense that you have to be scantily clad in promo photos to participate.
More people will hear about the pageant because of the photos. But I think less of them will actually tune in to the show in the future. Here’s hopin’.

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