For those who didn’t know – or chose not to notice – the pageant to choose Miss America 2017 took place over the weekend. Per usual, the central feature of the competition saw contestants parade around in glitzy dresses and streamlined swimsuits.
But while such costumes seem to be a required part of the show, one contestant may have a bit of an issue with them. According to Yahoo news, Miss South Carolina Rachel Wyatt declared:
“Something that we’ve lost sight of as a culture is how important it is to be modest. And I think Miss America is a role model for so many young girls, and they need to know that you don’t have to wear revealing clothing or be sexy to be beautiful – you just need to be you.”
Such a statement is rather startling when contrasted to many of the clothes sold in stores, worn on streets, and yes, even in Miss America pageants. Add in the issue of burqas and burkinis and the mention of modesty becomes a topic to be avoided at all costs.
But is Miss Wyatt on to something? Are many young women being sold the line that revealing clothing is necessary when in fact it is modesty that makes her more appealing as an individual?
A study conducted several years ago by Princeton University psychologist Susan Fiske suggests such may be the case. According to a National Geographic report on the study:
“Brain scans revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tool use lights up.
Men were also more likely to associate images of sexualized women with first-person action verbs such as ‘I push, I grasp, I handle,’ …
And in a ‘shocking’ finding, Fiske noted, some of the men studied showed no activity in the part of the brain that usually responds when a person ponders another's intentions.”
This research seems to concur with individual anecdotes, as evidenced by the comments on a reddit thread which asked, “Do guys prefer girls who dress conservative or slutty?” The responses varied, but consensus was that while a woman in revealing clothing might catch a man’s initial and short-term interest, his long-term interest and care centered on women who dressed more modestly.
With such findings, is Rachel Wyatt on to something by suggesting that America needs to reintroduce the importance of modesty to the next generation?
Image Credit: Rachel Wyatt Twitter
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.