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Originally conceived in 1921 as a ploy to keep businessmen in Atlantic City after Labor Day, the Miss America Pageant has since stood at the center of American popular culture, embodying our country's changing views on beauty, sex, race, and the roles of women in our society.
This documentary follows the evolution of the pageant as it is transformed from a beachfront cakewalk to a respectable contest that includes a scholarship program and a talent competition. The pageant became a premiere televised event and was the site of the first feminist demonstration.
Winds of change brought crowned beauties that spoke on behalf of abortion and AIDS and paved the way for the first black woman to wear the crown (who was then caught photographed wearing nothing else).
While marching through the pageant's colorful history, we watch as each new crop of beauties stroll the catwalk wearing the latest couture of the times and as their swimsuit hemlines rise higher and higher.