University of Kentucky Professor and Chair of Women's and Gender Studies Department

By Craig Henderson
Student Life Editor

On Thursday, Oct. 23, The University of Michigan – Dearborn was visited by Karen Tice, Chair and professor of the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Kentucky and also the author of Queens of Academe: Beauty Pageantry, Student Bodies, and College Life.

Tice’s book, which was a winner of the 2012 American Educational Studies Critic’s Award, studies how higher education is entangled in beauty and body image on predominantly white and black campuses. In her book, she argues how beauty pageants can affect student image and student culture as well. Tice says beauty pageants are not only for women, but for men too.

Tice has visited male pageants and says the men did not take it as serious as the women did. “The men I have talked to, some would say they ‘saw pageants for the free food’ or because they were able to date other women,” Tice said.

She continued with saying men were more comical about it too. However, there were men who did worry about it and went to the gym. “No one will find that same kind of humor when it comes to women’s pageants.”

Between male and female body image, Tice says that it is very rare that you find someone who is not having any kind of body anxieties and can be improved. She says, “Whether it is going to the gym more, lifting more weights, or running farther, we live in a society that really does promote this idea that we can be doing more to perfect our bodies.

In Tice’s presentation, she reports that academic acceptance was not only about grades, but how students handled their bodies.

Tice also shares her thoughts about the motivation of beauty pageants are more commonly about the scholarships before and during college as well. Many pageants do not only award a trophy and a dozen roses, but also money for scholarships.

According to, many of them such as Miss American’s Outstanding Teen, Cinderella International Scholarship Pageant, American Coed Pageants, and Miss Teenage California Pageant all reward scholarship money ranging from $1000 to $10,000. Runner-up winners will also receive a smaller reward.

Tice ended her presentation with a Q & A from the audience members.

Tice’s visit to UM-Dearborn was co-sponsored by the Women’s & Gender Studies and Sociology Department.