High Definition Curves: Are Beauty Pageants Obsolete?
Beauty Pageants have been around for years. An American tradition, they were at one point a penchant of American culture. Honoring the beauty and drive of young women, it ideally promotes feminine excellence. Since the sexual revolution and the feminist wave of the 1960s, however, pageantry has come under fire. Called offensive to the feminist movement and the promotion of objectification of women, pageants are often viewed as outdated traditions placing excessive value on physical beauty.
Recent events in the pageantry world have led to further criticism. The Jon Benet Ramsey case in the 1990s shed light on children’s pageants, casting an ugly shadow over a world in which young girls are made to look and act much older than they are. “Stage moms” were vilified and accusations of “over sexualization” of children were thrown about.
Then Miss USA Tara Connor made headlines for her partying ways. Hardly the example of the virtue Miss USA is to represent, Ms. Connor was sent to rehab and forced to make several public apologies. And while she may not have been right for the Miss USA job, many wondered if the organization had overreacted to things any normal 21-year-old girl might do.
Most recently, in a Miss USA contest one of its contestants made extremely controversial statements during the interview portion of the program. When asked whether she believed gay marriage should be legal, Miss California stated her (honest) views that no, it should not. While some commended the contestant for standing by her beliefs, others came down hard on her, calling her a bigot. Critics also signaled the retrograde nature of the competition itself and blamed pageant heads for giving a platform to conservative views.
These events, among others, have left many wondering whether beauty pageants should be eliminated entirely. Fewer and fewer Americans are tuning in on high definition and satellite TV to watch young women parade around in bathing suits flawlessly and later incoherently answer “the final question.” With the elimination of the talent portion of most pageants, some people ask themselves what it is exactly that these pageants are meant to reward. They are not sports competitions, they require little talent.
And while all of these critiques are quite valid, beauty pageants shouldn’t be counted out just yet. Though they are largely based on looks, these competitions are also based upon the accomplishments of young women who are, in reality, quite remarkable. Each contestant chooses a platform, ranging from health to peace to a million other issues, about which she is to inform herself and others. A beauty pageant contestant must put in hours of community service work and strive to better herself both mentally and physically at all times. She must be independent and driven. And her being in a bikini should not diminish any of these things.
Though pageantry is less popular in the United States now than it was 50 years ago, it remains a part of American culture. Those not interested in Miss USA or Miss Universe can feel free not to tune in on their high definition televisions whenever they would like. Those who remain interested, however, should feel no shame or guilt about engaging in this American tradition that honors remarkable young women.