Last night, a new Miss America was crowned (congrats to Miss Georgia) but the annual pageant had people talking for other reasons. For the first time in 32 years, former Miss America, Vanessa Williams, was invited back to the pageant as a judge and performer. Why was this moment so monumental?

In 1983, Williams, then, became the first African-American to win the Miss America crown, but was forced to give up her title in 1984 after Penthouse magazine published nude photos of her that were taken in 1982.

Williams said she was pressured by pageant organizers to vacate the title, but was allowed to keep the prize money, which was used to pay attorney’s fees in a lawsuit eventually dropped against Penthouse and the photographer, who together struck a deal for the private photo session.


The photos showed Williams in racy, nude position posturing lesbian-like sex, and completely revealing her vaginal area and breasts. The issue became a massive scandal in the ’80s through the ’90s, but eventually Williams became super successful singer and actress, and the legend we know today.

During last night’s ceremony, Miss America CEO Sam Haskell, welcomed Williams back to the stage after the actress gave a triumphant performance singing “Oh, How the Years Go By” and publicly apologized to she and her mother saying, “You have lived your life with grace and dignity…On behalf of today’s organization, I want to apologize.”

Williams called the apology, “unexpected, but so beautiful.”

But some are calling bullshit on the apology saying it was a stunt to get ratings. TMZ even reported the Miss America organization originally wanted Williams to apologize to them, and that it was mayhem behind the scenes between Williams’ people and the organization.

There’s also some people who say Williams should have resigned from her then title, because the photos, which you can see here, were beyond racy at the time, and even now, and it wasn’t fitting for a woman representing a title representing positivity and the country. Plus, Williams at the time, signed a morality clause, assuring she had no past that could jeopardize the historic competition.

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On the other hand, another school of thought says the pageant is all about fetishism, and sells women’s sexuality. Contestants compete in scanty-clan swimwear and it’s a contest based on women’s looks. So was hypocritical for the organization to strip Williams of her title.

The issue is polarizing, and there’s loads of opinions. But what’s yours? Did Williams really deserve the apology or was the entire thing one, big stunt for ratings? Sound off!

Brittney Fennell

Brittney Fennell

Brittney is the Associate Editor of Jawbreaker and a writer who has goals to disrupt culture in ways unseen.