I don’t approve of Bikini suits for American girls!
In 1948,after winning the Miss Minnesota Pageant, Beatrice Bella Shopp, a Hopkins High School graduate went with her parents to Atlantic City, New Jersey and came home to Hopkin as Miss America. She was the first Miss America to be crowned in an evening dress after the pageant was resurrected in 1935. Shopp’s road to the crown was an unpaved one. The village of Hopkins became a city upon adoption of a council-city manager charter less than a year before Bebe was crowned. Newspapers got a kick out of her small-town background. The Minneapolis Tribune called her “a nice girl who can drive a tractor, plays the drums and loves to clean fish.” Tabloids reported that she liked to eat and was probably the “biggest girl in the pageant”.
In 1949, after a trip to Paris, Bebe was quoted in the Los Angeles Times:
“The bathing beauty queen…blond Bebe Shopp, 18, of Hopkins, Minn…got an enthusiastic welcome in Paris, but she said she hasn’t changed her mind about French swim suits. … ‘I don’t approve of Bikini suits for American girls,’ Bebe told her French interviewers. ‘The French girls can wear them if they want to, but I still don’t approve of them on American girls.’
I couldn’t agree more!
After her reign Shopp returned to Hopkins and for a short time she wrote a column for the Minneapolis Tribune called “Tips for Teens” . In one piece, Bebe advised girls to brush their hair and use shampoo instead of soap whenever possible. She used her pageant scholarship to attend the Manhattan School of Music where she specialized in the vibraharp and graduated with a degree in percussion in 1952. Bebe went on to became a lay minister in the Episcopal Church, a TV spokeswoman for an electric scooter company and a singer with Share the Music and the Cape Ann Symphony Chorus. She has been active in community affairs and headed the board of directors for Gloucester Stage Company with her husband Bayard D. Waring. She has served the Miss America program on a local, state, and national level for over fifty years, being an avid supporter with a lifelong commitment to the scholarship program for young women. BeBe has focused on many volunteer and professional interests over the years promoting drug abuse prevention, supporting VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), and occasionally performing on the vibes and piano. In 2009, Shopp and other former beauty pageant winners visited U.S. military forces in Kuwait and Afghanistan. Bebe lives in Rockport, Massachusetts. She has four daughters and ten grandchildren.