Beauty Contests: Brawn Over Brain?
A while ago, I wrote about weddings being like a 'meat market'. I felt that Indian weddings were becoming an event where single girls are dolled up and are inadvertently judged by the single guys at the back of the hall. After reading my column, a friend said to me, "I gather you don't support the concept of a beauty pageant".
This got me thinking back to when I was younger and watched Miss South Africa and Miss World/Universe pageants on TV. The contestants looked like real-life Barbie dolls!
According to an online encyclopedia, a beauty contest or pageant is a competition between people based largely on the beauty of their physical appearance.
Even the term, 'beauty contest / pageant' grates my nerves. Isn't the term in itself degrading? Being judged on ones physical appearance? So my answer is no, I don't support beauty competitions. It places far too much emphasis on what is deemed important in our society - being beautiful with a perfect figure.
So what is beauty? I bet if asked this question, many people would rattle off a list of Bollywood stars, many of whom are now "model-turned-actresses". Aishwariya Rai and Sushmita Sen are regarded as "beauty queens" and are said to have boosted India's image to the rest of the world when they won the Miss World and Miss Universe titles, respectively. Both have made a name for themselves in the film industry, with Aishwariya being ranked as one of the most beautiful people in the world. I'll agree that both actresses appear to be grounded. No doubt, they're both stunning - but I ask you, how much are good looks worth in the real world? And by the real world, I'm not talking about the glitz and glamour and being the cover girl of fashion magazines.
Granted, no one is forced into taking part in these events. But do I do find them to be extremely superficial. How can strutting across a stage in a bikini with high heels, with heavy makeup pasted on ones face with (most of the time) a fake smile be beneficial?
Having watched these pageants on TV, I can't help but think how ridiculous it is to be rewarded "Miss Lovely Legs" and "Miss Photogenic". I find it obscure and absurd. More importantly, I wonder what kind of message is being sent to the rest of the world.
As if we don't have enough competition in our daily lives as it is. Everyday we're competing against each other for things like business and sports. And yet we still have to be concerned about competing with each other on the basis of physical appearances or how well-toned our bodies are?
Sure, intelligence is one of the judging standards, but the most important thing in these pageants is having a beautiful face. I remember thinking how silly some contestants sounded when they proclaimed that they wanted to promote world peace and alleviate poverty, or feed starving children in Africa. That's as attainable as me winning the lottery - not impossible, but not really realistic - right?
Just as I know people who've participated in beauty contests "for the fun of it", I also know many people who watch them for sheer entertainment. And that's fine. I have nothing against models who participate in beauty pageants or people who watch them. All I'm saying is that competitions based on the most beautiful face and sexiest figure is, for me, ludicrous.
My friend who sparked this discussion said he had no opinion about beauty pageants, but he did support the right of choice. So do I. But I just have to wonder whether a divide exists in today's world: Models vs Mortals?