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Girlhood, Beauty Pageants, and Power

Trailer Park Royalty


Elisabeth B. Thompson-Hardy

Girlhood, Beauty Pageants, and Power: Trailer Park Royalty explores the phenomenon of child beauty pageants in rural communities throughout the American South. In a bricolage of post-structural feminism, critical ethnographies, critical hermeneutics, and cultural studies lenses, this book analyzes how the performance of participants—most from a lower socio-economic bracket—and the power exercised by beauty pageant culture work to formulate girls’ identities. Girlhood, Beauty Pageants, and Power also examines how depictions in popular culture through film, videos, documentaries, and television shows add to the dialogue. Author Elisabeth B. Thompson-Hardy suggests rural pageant culture works to create girlhood identity and shapes the way participants view the world and themselves—through intricate cultural work in terms of gender and class. This book is intended for students and teachers who are interested in dissecting rural girlhood and development, Southern American beauty standards, and the effect of the media on girls’ identities.

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The consummate gentleman and an unending fount of information, John Frederick Blumer III encouraged me to apply for the doctoral program in Curriculum Studies. Upon my acceptance, he was a faithful cheerleader and dogged encourager for me to complete my studies and write my dissertation. He almost lived to see it to its completion. On May 30, 2007, Daddy ended his courageous battle with metastatic hepatoma. My prospectus hearing was held the very next day. He witnessed the beginnings of my writing, only to watch from heaven as I stood before the committee and defended August, 13, 2007. With great love, undying gratitude, and the promise to continue to instill Daddy’s love of learning to all those within my realm of influence, I dedicate this work to him. I did it, Daddy! Spread the word in heaven!

In like fashion, I dedicate this work to my mother, the lady who made trips too many to count to keep my young sons while I wrote, most at the height of my father’s decline. You are the true example of a lady and a Godly woman. Your wisdom and your example provide me with a model of whom I desire to be. And your determination, love of learning, and demand for nothing less than the best have shaped←v | vi→ me into the learned, multi-faceted woman I now am. You are amazing, and I love you so.

I also dedicate this to my three angels, Zach,...

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