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Vanessa Williams and Melania Trump. Why The Comparison?

Vanessa Williams, 1983

It’s not a comparison between Vanessa Williams and Melania Trump as persons but rather, that they did the same things but were treated differently.

In 1983, Vanessa Williams was crowned Miss America 1984.  She was the first Black woman to receive the title.  In July 1984, directors of the Miss America pageant asked Vanessa to relinquish her title and crown. Vanessa resigned. Here is why.

A free-lance photographer named Tom Chiapel remembered taking nude photos of Vanessa in 1982.  He pitched them to Playboy, who refused his offer.  Eventually, he sold the photos to Penthouse magazine.  Vanity Fair reports that Penthouse paid more for Vanessa’s photos than they had ever previously paid for a spread.

The Washington Post archived a 1984 article about the story, stating

“For 10 months Vanessa Williams has served the pageant and the title of Miss America well,” said the statement released by pageant directors, “but we must make it clear that we cannot and do not condone her actions either in posing for the photographs or in failing to reveal the facts at the appropriate time in the selection process that led to her being awarded the crown.”

“The pageant celebrates the whole woman and its spirit is intrinsically inconsistent with calculated sexual exploitation,” the pageant’s statement said.”

Vanessa called the experience her “rock bottom.”  She was 21-years old when she resigned her Miss America crown and title. Read the rest of this entry

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