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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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It is with heartfelt gratefulness and thanks that I acknowledge the people who supported me on this arduous journey into the world of child beauty pageants.

Dr. William Reynolds has been a guide in matters of education and career. Thank you for being my mentor and friend. I owe a debt of gratitude to you for leading me to this topic and agreeing to be my chair, only if I delved into the beauty pageant subculture! You had no idea what you were asking for.

Dr. Shirley R. Steinberg has contributed increased insight, constant and much needed guidance, editorial direction, encouragement, and excitement throughout this entire project. All of this stemmed from a “chance” conversation in a receiving line at Georgia Southern in 2003. Nothing happens by accident and I am so thankful that my plan included our meeting.←xi | xii→ ←xii | xiii→

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