Big hair, big dreams: An inside look at the Miss America pageant

REVIEW BY LISA BIRNBACH is a writer who lives in New York. She co-wrote and edited “The Official Preppy Handbook” and wrote “True Prep.”

What kind of woman wants to become Miss America? Is she groomed from childhood by a beauty-queen mama? Is she a Southern belle? A girl who simply wants to be famous? A baton twirler from a small town with dreams of big-city life? Is she a gal from the...

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