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Tuesday, September 21, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 21

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Ms. Divorced America?

By Angela Bongat

What has perplexed me in the last few days is the Miss Universe and Miss America Pageant rules and what these guidelines allegedly preserve.

I understand that the lucky woman who is crowned Miss America or Miss Universe is the judges' vision of beauty and wholesomeness. It is therefore reasonable that rules, regulations and qualifications are instituted to preserve this precious image.

Vanessa Williams' example was, in my opinion, an incident in which the Miss America pageant acted in its best interest to guard against any blemishes on its otherwise untarnished character. (she was asked to resign after Penthouse published nude pictures of her and another woman.)

Recently, Miss America's officials made a statement that they will not change their rules to allow women who have previously had children or to allow women who have ever been married to enter their pageant. The notion behind this decision was that allowing these women to enter the competition would be in direct conflict with the moral image of the organization.

What?!

So, is this organization implying that giving birth or tying the knot at a young age is corrupt? I know that there are a great number of women here at UH who are either married, have children or both.

Do you see yourselves as villainous? I would even like to applaud all of you women who take the time to obtain your education, and can also successfully juggle your children and maybe even a husband in a 24-hour day. To me, that is inspiring.

Take for example, my wonderful boyfriend's beautiful mother, Connie. She gave birth to two boys before she divorced. After the divorce, she raised the boys and proceeded with her career. Not only did she do a successful job of rearing wonderful gentlemen, she is the woman I look up to and turn to for advice. That is why I am disconcerted that this organization would have the audacity to label young mothers or wives as going against the grain of what is ideally the moral standard in America.

The Miss America Pageant Organization may make the rebuttal that having either children or a husband will greatly interfere with the numerous appearances and appointments that are booked on the winner's schedule.

So why won't they allow a divorced woman to enter into competition? I agree with an article by Bruce Gottlieb in The Slate where he says, "The rules don't explicitly require virginity, but that's clearly what they're hinting at." Let's get with the times, folks. Although it may seem like all of our daddies' ideal dreams is for their beautiful daughters to remain "pure" until marriage, the existence of such a holy creature in this day and age is all but laughable.

So why do the Pageant's rules still reflect the era in which they were made? Is there no room to amend the regulations? Regulations need to mirror the society's current views and beliefs. I no longer think that a woman should be excluded or shunned for marrying young or being a young mother. I think as a society we have all come to respect individuals, men and women, young and old, who can succeed in their career lives as well as their family lives.

It is a shame that the statutes of a pageant that chooses a single woman to represent the United States has not made concessions for the modern-day image of what is successful and morally correct.

Bongat, a junior psychology and political science major,
can be reached at angelabongat@hotmail.com.
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