The Miss America Pageant, struggling to stay afloat, will change some of its format. But like many of its contestants have found, cosmetic devices don't always deliver a winner.

They are changing the names of some of the categories. You know this thing was once called a beauty pageant, but to salve the feelings of young women whose legs didn't go all the way to their necks and who didn't have a bunch of extra teeth, they attempted political correctness by calling it a "scholarship competition." Funny thing, the whole time I was in college, I never saw anyone sign up for classes wearing swimsuits. I think they would have flirted with accuracy if they had called it the "Strut for World Peace."

Needless to say at this point, I detest beauty pageants. And I feel this way because the sweet little girl with the genuine smile who works down at the mill and helps her mom pay the rent doesn't have a snowball's chance of being recognized for a beauty that doesn't come from a dozen jars and six hours of preparation.

Anyway, they're not going to call the swimsuit competition the swimsuit competition anymore. It's going to be called the "lifestyle and fitness" competition. I suppose the fact that they are wearing swimsuits should be considered coincidental to the moment. I agree with Jay Leno that it might more aptly be called the "implant and liposuction" competition.

And as they walk across the stage in their swimsuits, videos will be shown of how they keep in shape.

A spokesman for the show said, "It might be ATV riding or bungee jumping. Something that gives a broader picture of what her life is all about."

Like I said, it won't be lifting heavy cartons down at the mill.

The evening wear competition will be called "presence and poise." Oh I guess that's as good as you're gonna get on that one. You surely wouldn't call it the "perpetual grin and gallop."

On down the line the interview segment will be called "presentation and community achievement" and the talent segment will be called "artistic expression."

There is supposed to be less song and dance routine, which is a plus. How many times could one stand to hear "Man of La Mancha?"

The pageant commissioned a study that showed the American public wanted to see more competition among the women and a more accurate gauge of intelligence. And the public wanted to see the contestants in a more natural way.

Well then, I suggest they show videos of them when they first get up in the morning, when they get caught up in freeway traffic and while they attempt to program their VCR. If you're going for the "reality TV" factor, then scrape off the glaze.

Apparently, they are going to let some of those who didn't make the top 10 cast votes. And the top five will be quizzed on current events, American history and U.S. government.

Question for Miss Idaho: So how many congressmen, according to The Washington Post, have had affairs with their office personnel?

Oops! Is that question current events or U.S. government? I suppose in Gary Condit's case, it will be American history.

The pageant will be at 8 p.m. Sept. 22 on ABC. Given that I see no relationship between swimsuits and world peace and on behalf of the little milltown girl, I won't be watching.

Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer. You can call him at 985-4545, ext. 214. E-mail:

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