They say that beauty lies skin deep.
So, why are women and men paraded in front of billions of viewers on and off screen, to be judged based on appearance?
Year after year, women and men are subject to unreasonable standards of what a superficial society deems beautiful. And, because we’re an impressionable race, we accept these models as examples of how what an ideal society should look like.
That’s how flawed a beauty pageant is. And this holds equally true for men and women.
We turn individuals into mere categories – men and women; tall and short, fair and dark, thin and fat. Worthy and unworthy.
The unit of measurement: Physical appearance.
We’re in 2019 now and we still glorify global events where individuals of a particular type of physical form are lauded for fueling age-old sexism.
Why do we need a 5.6 ft 23-year-old model who is fair, has luscious hair, flawless skin, a skinny figure/chiselled physique to prove her/his mettle to represent an entire race, or culture?
I slather on hemorrhoid ointment, wrap myself up with Saran wrap, and run on a treadmill with an incline for 30 minutes. It’s not permanent, but it tightens you up, a former Miss USA once said.
In an age of body positivity, we need to stop glorifying beauty pageants, for their archaic standards and unwarranted judgement.
1. Beauty pageants give rise to anorexia.
According to a report released in January 2016, a comparison made between the average BMI (Body Mass Index) required at beauty pageants between 1930 to 2010; show that the number had dropped from 20.8 (which was still a healthy figure) to an unhealthy 16.9.
It was revealed in News.com.au that beauty pageant contestants had even gotten their lower intestines removed so as to process food faster.
2. Beauty pageants increase the likelihood of an eating disorder.
The same report claimed that after contestants had been put through an anonymous survey, 26% said they had developed an eating disorder while 48.5% admitted that the pageant had made them want to be thinner. 57% were trying to lose additional weight to enter the pageant.
In 2013, a Miss Venezuala contestant admitted that she had sewn mesh onto her tongue so she would not be able to eat solid foods.
3. Beauty pageants set unreal benchmarks for the “ideal” standard of beauty; through all the curves and edges.
When pageants give away titles for Miss Beautiful Smile, Photogenic, Miss Congeniality, Miss beautiful Eyes, they’re literally demarcating what every perfect bodily feature should look like. An article published on News Australia revealed that women got breast implants early on in their lives to appear a certain way for pageants. Countries have even have ‘finishing’ schools and centres for enhanced cosmetic surgeries to make women and men look like pageant material. Incidents leaked of Miss Korea and even Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler underwent surgery to win the crown.
Donald Trump, then owner of the Miss Universe Organization, stated “There are no rules on Miss Universe against women who have had plastic surgery done. The only main consideration is that the female contestants must be born a woman.”
4. Beauty pageants are psychologically damaging, too.
If an eating disorder isn’t enough, there’s the psychological aspect of how beauty pageants damage one’s self-esteem by dictating what constitutes as the “ideal” version of beautiful on a global platform. The 2016 report revealed that a worrying 6% of all contestants suffered from depression due to the wrongful perceptions they were weighed against.
5. Beauty pageants fuel unhealthy competition.
They don’t just pit individuals against individuals in a healthy environment that promotes humanity. These shows are milder versions of reality shows that pit men against men and women against women; for something as petty as the way they look, outwardly.
Back in 2015, Sheislane Hayalla, Runner-Up of the Miss Amazon in Brazil literally ripped off the crown from winner, Carol Toledo’s head, as a sign of disapproval.
6. Beauty pageants undervalue intelligence.
While there is one, maybe two rounds of questioning that doesn’t really take into account a person’s intellect, pageants are mostly about parading semi-naked in swimsuits that had nothing to do with showing off swimming skills which takes away from one’s mental and emotional quotient and only focus on physical ‘attributes’.
Pageants through the ages have recorded how the contestants have either evaded the questions, or answered along different lines, altogether.
In 2011, Indian supermodel, Nayanika Chatterjee said, beauty pageants are not really a test of intelligence. It’s about your over all personality, presence of mind and how you carry yourself. It’s not an MBA exam where they test your intelligence, and question is not sufficient to gauge someone’s IQ.
7. Beauty pageants promote classism.
The lengths these contestants go to just to look a certain way are expensive in more ways than one – from spending hours at the gym, hiring personal trainers, eating right and hiring a nutritionists, splurging on expensive skincare regimes, buying particular kinds of outfits.
It takes at least $6000 just to look like one is ready for a beauty pageant. That’s approximately 4,01,610 rupees!
Fact of the matter: 795 million people in the world can’t even afford to stay healthy because they don’t have enough food to eat. How can someone with superficial standards bring about goodwill in this state?
Setting an abnormal standard should never be the pretext of deciding whether or not someone can be a humanitarian and representative of goodwill in the world.
Shouldn’t the judgement be made on the basis of a system that is less shallow and more inclusive?