Looking for Miss America: A Pageant’s 100–Year Quest to Define Womanhood 

From an author praised for writing “delicious social history” (Dwight Garner, The New York Times) comes a fast-paced account of memorable Miss America contestants, protests, and scandals, showing decade by decade how the pageant has both resisted and reflected the gains of feminism. Looking for Miss America examines the heady blend of capitalism, patriotism, class anxiety, and cultural mythology that has fueled this American ritual for a century.

Winner of the Popular Culture Association’s Emily Toth Best Book in Women’s Studies Award

 

  A New York Post Best Book of 2020
  A Cosmopolitan Best Nonfiction Book of 2020

  A Publishers Weekly Best Summer Book
  A Library Journal 2020 Title to Watch
  A Lithub Best Reviewed Book (“rave”)
  A National Book Review 5 Hot Books Pick
  A PureWow 12 Best Nonfiction Books of 2020
 
  Excerpts in Lithub and Lapham’s Quarterly
  A 2021 NYTBR  Paperback Row Pick

 

 

Praise
“A spellbinding…first-rate analysis of the United States’s most distinctive beauty contest.” The Los Angeles Review of Books
“Mifflin’s lively book reads as an obituary…She’s cleareyed about the pageant’s many hypocrisies and failures…But Mifflin, too, is invested in the pageant’s sense of specialness.” The New York Times 
“Mifflin is as alive to the pageant’s historical grotesqueries as she is to the weirdo details of its founding.” The New Yorker
“This incisive and entertaining history deserves the spotlight.” —Publishers Weekly 
“Nothing short of fascinating.”
Cosmopolitan
“…a fascinating look at the contest and what it has stood for over the decades.” The New York Post  
“Margot’s book is fabulous!
You’re Wrong About podcast
“[A] lively and probing appraisal of a pageant that will observe its centennial in 2021.” —Kirkus Reviews 
“While deftly commenting on the racism and sexism that have characterized the pageant’s history, she also makes space for the contestants to speak openly for themselves about their own experiences…” Library Journal 
 “A perfect summer read” Booklist/ALA
“…lavish in its research, and its prose is sparkling…probing, scintillating and tremendously entertaining–a pleaser for feminists and pageant devotees alike.” Shelf Awareness
“In her smart and witty narrative, Mifflin “unzips” the contradictory, curious, and entertaining story of the iconic Miss America pageant as a revealing reflection of women’s history.” The National Book Review
“Even if you’ve never watched a single Miss America pageant on TV, anyone with an interest in American history would benefit from this deep dive into a complex cultural figurehead.” Book Page  
“[a] well-written and thoroughly researched book.”―Bitch Magazine  
“Whether you faithfully tune in every year or cringe at the mere thought of a beauty contest masquerading as a scholarship program, Looking for Miss America is a must- read…” PureWow 
Lively, fun, insightful.” Danville Commercial News