Miss USA Pageant Goes Playboy to Boost Ratings

Ms. Maryland looks like she could have a merry time with you.

Miss America contestants have officially lost their innocence, thanks to a racy photo shoot in which they look…well, you can see for yourself here.

The Miss USA pageant, co-owned by NBC and Donald Trump, was looking for more attention. They got it. MSNBC has more:

This year, all 51 Miss USA contestants have posed for their official photos wearing seductive expressions on their faces and not a whole lot else on their bodies. Taken by fashion photographer Fadil Berisha in dramatic black-and-white, the shots feature racy lingerie, smoldering looks and plenty of bare skin.

The photos seemed designed to generate controversy and buzz about the pageant, TODAY’s Matt Lauer suggested to pageant president Paula Shugart.

“Yes, to some degree it’s marketing,” Shugart admitted from Las Vegas. “But we’ve always been the cutting-edge pageant. We are owned by Donald Trump. “It pushed their envelope, but they all enjoyed doing this,” Shugart added of the contestants. Besides, she told Lauer, the women in the pageant are not looking to bring peace to the world. They are all aspiring actresses and models.

“Their dream is to be in the Victoria’s Secret fashion show,” Shugart said, and the “Waking Up in Vegas” shots are good practice.

Lark-Marie Anton, a pageant spokeswoman, also weighed in via e-mail, telling NBC News: “We are in the business of beauty and the contestants who compete for the title of Miss USA are not afraid to be sexy. These ladies are the full package — smart, accomplished, relevant and sexy. That said, I think these photos definitely break the stereotype of what a ‘pageant girl’ looks like.”

True this. They look more like the women on this Russian brides site or this escort site.

Does the Miss USA photo shoot go too far? Of course it does; that’s why everyone is paying attention. Thanks to America’s Puritanical tendencies, this stuff continues to shock and draw eyeballs–and profit its owners.

I wish the little girls enamored with Miss USA weren’t forced to have escorts as their role models. This kind of media activities benefits business, but contributes to a culture of girls and women with low self-esteem, eating disorders, and the inability to differentiate between sexiness and promiscuity. This self-delusion, in turn, creates a reliance on industry for cures.

There’s a lot of talk about sustainability in business today. But the tendency to create self-cannibalizing women has been largely overlooked in those efforts. Donald Trump just added another sliver of misconception to the female pie.

If you want to do Trump a favor, watch Miss USA. If you want to do your little girls a favor, turn it off.

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Written by Drea Knufken

Drea Knufken

Currently, I create and execute content- and PR strategies for clients, including thought leadership and messaging. I also ghostwrite and produce press releases, white papers, case studies and other collateral.