This GIF Shows How Miss America's Body Has Changed Since 1921

Photo: Ida Mae Astute/Getty Images.
Miss Georgia/the newly crowned Miss America 2016, Betty Cantrell.
It's been 94 years since Margaret Gorman of Washington, D.C. won Miss America's first pageant, though she was at first known as "The Most Beautiful Bathing Girl In America" rather than "Miss America." The contest has since evolved. Competitors are now expected to answer questions about current events and show off a fine-tuned talent, in additional to (still) meeting conventional standards of physical beauty. Those standards have changed, too. Mental health resource website Psychology Guides' newest project, "The Evolution of Miss America Since 1921," explores these changes, demonstrating how in the pageant's earlier years, Miss America winners' BMI scores fell within the middle of the healthy weight range and then began to drop. According to the report, "The only decades during which Miss America fell into the same range as the average U.S. woman were the 1940s and 1950s" (think Jayne Mansfield or Brigitte Bardot or yes, Marilyn Monroe).

This isn't to say that thin pageant contestants are (necessarily) unhealthy: Looks alone are a poor indicator of health in the first place, and the BMI measurement is known to be BS. Nor is it to say that every contestant should have the body type of the "average American woman." But an organization that, in its own words, champions "beauty, grace, and intelligence...a type which the American Girl might well emulate" and yet only features only the most slender women is missing the full meaning of "beauty." It's also missing a golden opportunity to celebrate the diversity it contains. See the GIF below to visualize how our idea of the "perfect" body has evolved.
Image: Courtesy Of Psychology Guides.

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