Miss America: Standards of American Beauty Over the Years

When Miss America was founded in 1921, the winner was crowned "the Golden Mermaid." Today, she's much more than a bathing suit-clad girl posing near the water. 

The Miss America Organization has become the largest scholarship provider for women in the world, awarding gifts for education at the local and national levels. Winners promote charities and do volunteer work, traveling across the country to advocate for their varied causes. The organization is now focusing particularly on women in STEM.

In past, the competition has come under fire for its lack of diversity and limited standards of beauty, prompting protests in accordance with the women's movement in 1968. MAKER Robin Morgan was one of the key leaders of this campaign.

While the organization and competition have their flaws, Miss America has been an interesting indicator of societal standards of beauty and femininity. One winner supported her five siblings on the sponsorship deals that arose with her newfound fame, while another became a notable movie star. Miss Americas have always championed service, whether they sold wartime bonds or advocated against domestic violence. Miss America 2014 was the first Indian American to win, and she performed a Bollywood-fusion dance as her talent. This year's competition includes Maggie Bridges aka Miss Georgia, a competitor whose favorite class is coding and who wore 3D-printed shoes made by her classmates in the traditional "Show Us Your Shoes" parade. Whoever wins this year will gain the chance to be a role model of 2015, speaking out for positive causes across the nation. Click through the slideshow above to meet some of the women in whose footsteps she follows. 

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