Term of Award

Fall 2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

John Weaver

Committee Member 1

Dan Chapman

Committee Member 2

Olivia Edenfield

Committee Member 3

Ming Fang He


Using cultural theory and feminist theory as the theoretical framework, and various forms of popular culture and face-to-face interviews, I explored the experiences of a former pageant contestant, current contestant, child contestant, and pageant mom. The study particularly explored how society perpetuates stereotypical roles of females through popular culture and beauty pageants. It also examined the suppression of Southern women through deep traditions and family values, reinforcing conceptions of their physical beauty and personal characteristics. This study unveiled how self-worth is directly linked to females’ success in conforming to the stereotypical views in society that they are constantly being judged against. The commodification of the female body was a common theme found throughout the study as females adorn their bodies with various items to gain approval in society. Furthermore, I explored how the consumption of the female body oppresses women in the educational realm. Here, the separation of mind and body does not allow for advancements to be made in a patriarchal society. One very important theme was the disciplining of the body creates an imprisoned mind. This separation causes females to resort to competition with one another to advance in a male dominated society. Similar to beauty pageant contestants, this study also explored how students are manipulated by society and forced to “learn” using a competitive approach to education. The significance of my study is to bring about awareness and uneasiness to the ways in which females are contained in their stereotypical positions in society, which fosters strong competition both on the stage and in the classroom. It is my hope that through this study, the image of the female body will not remain an object to be gazed upon by the male and to ultimately end the competitive approach to education. I strive to promote a curriculum that focuses on the body as a whole, including the mind and emotions, one that offers complicated conversation and reflection. This study is my first task, a small contribution to the field, in working to promote a cultural change, evening the playing field for all.

Research Data and Supplementary Material