I have had to debate the significance and nature of beauty pageants on a number of occasions before, but never have I truly considered any of those arguments as my own views.
Are they necessary? Do they send a positive message or a negative one? Are they harmless? What’s the deal with pageants?
I must admit that watching Miss South Africa and Miss World pageants every year were something of a ritual which my cousin and I relished. We could sit huddled up in front of the TV pointing out who had a slimmer figure or a brighter smile, who had a better strut in high-heeled shoes and who made the underwear look the best… It was only later in my life that I realised that we had been doing the exact same thing which women were accusing men of doing- objectifying women, narrowing their value and worth down to physical appearance. My own guilt was much too much to share with anyone.
Then I was introduced to Toddlers & Tiaras, a TV program about child beauty pageants. These little girls are constantly told (both directly and indirectly) that they need to ‘alter’ themselves in order to be beautiful. Have the make-up, the right tan, the perfect teeth, the right coloured eyes and hair length, the over-the-top dresses and shoes…these children are taught that they will always need to do something to be beautiful, thereby, indoctrinating them with set perceptions of what beauty is. Here’s a question for the aspiring rocket scientists: Who can guess what kind of detrimental impacts these girls may be susceptible to as they grow?
Some argue that beauty pageants, like science fairs and sports competitions, require a criteria and failure to meet the criteria, like all other things, results in losing. Others say it builds character and will teach children how the real world operates. Others say pageants take a lot of hard work, like anything else, and those who simply work the hardest, win. The only thing I can say is: Good job! To all those who boldly support the notion that children (or anyone for that matter) need to ‘work harder’ at their beauty, you’re making an excellent contribution to nurturing healthy human beings with positive self-esteem!
This brings me to the adult pageants, you know, the big, televised ones for grown ups who supposedly know better than children. Now what’s hilarious about these pageants is that some people INSIST that they appreciate the whole person and not just the body. They parade slogans like, “Beauty and Brains” represent the ideal Miss Whatever. What’s funny to me though is that, the quizzes and personal questions have become society’s second favourite part of the pageant- after the bikini parades, of course. Everyone can’t wait to hear the “dumbest” response to a question!
Meanwhile people can’t wait to make these…
I hope these are enough to draw the attention of pageant lovers…
Thoughts from one who has been consistently hailed as one of the most beautiful women in the world.