Brilliant. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Miss America since I was tiny, stuffing my swimsuit and strutting across the shag carpet the night women’s libbers disrupted the TV broadcast in 1968. I still watch, and I’m still ashamed. Only now, after reading Friedman’s enthusiastic analysis, I understand why.

Friedman, the President of Nat’l Organization of Women in Rhode Island, is the daughter of Miss America, 1970. And while collecting countless Ivy League and civic accolades that define her braininess, Dr. Friedman was professor to Miss America, 2018. Clearly this is no longer a beauty versus brains debate; now women are challenged to be both. But wait…

After an entertaining Forward, Friedman breaks the history of pageants into three defining eras of female liberation, beginning with the suffragette fight to vote. Who knew that the suffragette movement was tightly linked to beauty pageants from the very beginning? In fact, I will never look at a sash the same way…

Here She Is works as a long overdue history of women in America. The path of the contest – and its participants – reflects how beauty is tied to every relevant signpost of American culture, from class, to race, education, body image, identity, and politics. There are so many delicious tidbits, that I can’t decide which to mention. On second thought, I won’t ruin your fun. This book will be a classic.


Leslie reviews books from a writer’s perspective. Her curated list of 5 star books guarantees that they are worth your time – and her reviews explain why. Follow her on Goodreads for over 200 more reviews, and on Twitter for updates.

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