At the Miss America pageant on Sept. 13, 2015, the organization’s CEO, Sam Haskell, opened the prove with a heartfelt apology to former Miss America, Vanessa Williams.
This was the first time Williams had returned to the rivalry in decades.
In 1983, Vanessa Williams induced history for becoming the first black Miss America. Then, 10 months after being crowned, she made history again for resigning.
Williams has had such an amazing -Alist career as relevant actors and vocalist racking up plenty of Grammy, Emmy, and Tony award nominations without the help of a crown on her head it’s easy to forget why the Miss America organization forced Williams to resign all those years ago.
Vanessa Williams returning to #MissAmerica is all the beauty pageant realness you need … — data-verified= “redactor”> http :// t.co/ rvz7NMBDVX pic.twitter.com/ pLggPR4wqY VH1 (@ VH1) September 12, 2015
Back in 1984, nude photos of Williams( taken before she became Miss America) leaked without her permission.
Penthouse magazine published the pics, without her permission , in its September issue that year. And the Miss America organization reportedly pressured Williams into relinquishing her crown just seven weeks before the end of her reign.
It’s funny how an organization that emphasizes women’s looks and still factors in a swimsuit rivalry ended up shaming one of its challengers for expressing her sexuality offstage …
Of course, the resignation was a whole bunch of bull. Sometimes, especially when it comes to women’s sexuality, society has a propensity to blame those who’ve been wronged instead of blaming those who actually did the wronging.
It’s called victim-blaming , and it’s all too common. Williams should not have been pressured to resign because a publication induced the decision to publish unauthorized, private photos of her. But the Miss America organization blamed her instead of supporting her and blaming Penthouse for its poor editorial selection.
But in 2015, the Miss America organization finally took a significant step to right its past incorrects.
With Williams at Haskell’s side on stage, he apologized on behalf of the Miss America organization for how it treated her all those years ago:
You have lived your life in grace and dignity and never was it more evident than during the events of 1984 when you resigned. Though none of us currently in the organization were involved then, on behalf of today’s organization, I want to apologize to you and to your mom, Miss Helen Williams. I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that induced you feel any less than the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be . ”
After 31 years, the Miss America organization finally acknowledged that it treated its 1983 winner like garbage.
We see this kind of victim-blaming against females hour and time again. But most victims never get the apology they deserve.
Instead of blaming rapists , nation agencies not-so-subtly blame women for drinking too much. Instead of teaching teenage sons to respect their female classmates, schools kick daughters out of dances for wearing garments that may cause “impure believes.” And instead of blaming the hackers who shared private photographs of celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lawrence, male celebrities( and others) felt the want to advise Kim K. and JLaw they shouldn’t have taken the pictures in the first place.
If your friend’s home got robbed and the thief stole an expensive TV, would you say, “Well, you knew thieves exist. You likely shouldn’t have bought an expensive TV”?
No, you ‘d blame the imbecile who stole their television .
So why blame Williams for a magazine’s unethical decision?
We’re making progress, though. Miss America’s apology wasn’t just important for Williams it was important for everyone watch.
The apology was witnessed by about 7 million people last night. Hopefully the message was loud and clear: We shouldn’t faulting victims for the actions of those who wrong them.
Watch footage from Haskell’s apology below:
Read more: www.upworthy.com