Evelyn Renninger was a 90-pound, 17-year-old high school student when she was voted Miss Reading (Pennsylvania) and became an entrant in the 1922 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City. It was only the contest’s second year. (Here was the first.)
For these photos, she wore a bathing suit (yes, that’s a bathing suit) with customary — and, according to many at the time, shocking — black stockings. For the Reading pageant, she chose an ankle-length dress, made by her mother, with pearls. She’s petite, round-faced, with dark, curly hair, like a young Maggie Gyllenhaal.
“One caught the flash of her milk-white teeth and the heart-piercing fire of her dark eyes. Rare and exotic is the beauty from Reading,” wrote one reporter.
But when she returned, she told The Reading Eagle in 1992, people in her hometown mocked her. “Wherever I went, it was like, ‘What’s so beautiful about her?’ I went through so much of that. I was 17 years old … and it hurt.” She went to the social editor of her local newspaper and demanded, “Don’t ever print another thing about me.”
Renninger says she was “rated high in poise and manners.”
Renninger’s granddaughter submitted these photos to Reddit, saying, “What was considered beautiful in 1922 …”
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