It's just thirteen women, and only a couple thousand dollars are at stake (though organizers are still fund-raising), but the revival of the Miss Alameda County competition has raised the ire of some local women's rights advocates, according to an article on Inside Bay Area. One opponent, Mary Jane Casper of the Alameda County Tri-Valley National Organization for Women, wrote in a letter to the editor that the beauty pageant, last held more than twenty years ago, requires women to "sacrifice their dignity and self-respect by offering their bodies for judgment." The organizers, on the other hand, a retired Livermore-Pleasanton firefighter and his wife, defend the competition as a way to provide opportunities for young women. As evidence, they note that the swimsuit portion (called "Lifestyle and Fitness") only makes up 15 percent of the contestant's score, talent 35 percent, interviews 30 percent, and 20 percent for the evening gown portion.
Regardless of how you feel about the contest, the question remains: if this is for needy students, why require them to buy an expensive evening gown? Not to mention bathing suit? (Assuming gals who'll want to win will want to buy something special for the occasion.) The event will be held Feb. 23 at the Amador Valley Theater in Pleasanton; the winner will go on to compete in the Miss California pageant in June, which offers a bigger scholarship award of $10,000. P.S. Women of Oakland are excluded from Miss Alameda County; they had their own competition earlier this month.