The Miss America pageant has been shaping beauty ideals ever since it first began in 1921.
PsychGuides.com, an educational website that provides information about mental health, tracked the evolution of Miss America's body type over the past 95 years. The GIF and timelines created by the website highlights just how unrealistic this image of the "ideal" body for the American woman really is.
The educational website found that while the average woman in the U.S. has gotten heavier since 1921, Miss America has gotten thinner. This information is more relevant than ever with the 2015 Miss America Pageant taking place this Sunday night.
Although the pageant started in 1921, the first winner wasn't crowned until 1922 which explains why the images begin in 1922.
The GIF above shows that the shift towards a dramatically thinner body type didn't happen until the late '90s, early '00s.
According to a BMI chart created by PsychGuides, the BMI of the average American woman has slowly increased while the BMI of Miss America winners has slowly decreased since 1921. The chart shows that in 1990 the average BMI of the American woman was roughly about 24.5, while the average BMI of a Miss America winner was around 18.
As PsychGuides points out, the pageant describes Miss America as a woman who "represents the highest ideals," the pageant's website reads. "She is a real combination of beauty, grace, and intelligence, artistic and refined. She is a type which the American Girl might well emulate."
Sadly, the average Miss America doesn't properly reflect how most of the women in America actually look. PsychGuides' research found that nearly a third of Miss America winners are considered underweight. (And it doesn't help that almost all of them are white.)
"While the underweight frames of Miss America contestants don’t necessarily represent disordered eating and exercise habits within that group, they can perpetuate an unrealistic expectation for the average female’s body," a PsychGuides press release said.
Although, the very existence of the pageant itself has been argued to be problematic, some parts of the contest are more archaic than others -- namely the swimsuit competition. While the swimsuit portion is one of the most well-known sections of the pageant, it exacerbates and magnifies the already existing (and unrealistic) cultural beauty standards in the U.S.
"Now more than ever, the ideal image of beauty portrayed by the contest inaccurately represents average American women," the press release said.
Scroll through the timeline below to see just how little the Miss America body type has changed, along with its blatant lack of diversity.
Head over to PsychGuides.com to read more about the research.
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