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American-style beauty contests – complete with young women in tiaras, sashes, and swimsuits—became big business in Japan in the 1950s and were even hailed as displays of women’s rights in the new postwar. Professor Jan Bardsley’s presentation focuses on one piece of this story: the rise and fall of Itō Kinuko, who captured the Miss Japan crown in 1953, thrilled Japanese by taking 3rd place in the Miss Universe Contest, became the nation’s first top fashion model, but later fell prey to charges of greed, ego, and too much independence. Her victory also intertwined with U.S. efforts to forge alliance with Japan in the early Cold War. By following the highlights of the pageant experiences of Miss Japan Itō Kinuko, we see how much the beauty queen’s iconic uniforms—her ball gown, native costume, and of course, her swimsuit—shaped her as a cultural figure and a cautionary tale about the allure and dangers of Americanization in Japan.
Presented in connection with Elegance and Extravagance.
Pre-registration is required. Please RSVP to
Free for members, $10 for non-member guests.
DATE: November 14, 2012
LOCATION:  Ackland Art Museum
Time: 2:00pm

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