For as long as I can remember beauty pageants have been under scrutiny. Critics have told us that it degraded, objectified and sexualised women. That there was no place for them in modern society, that women should be treated as equals. Those who opposed such views were branded sexist, old-fashioned and ignorant amongst other things.
I for one never understood this and maybe it is because I am a man. Surely the young women who participated in these contests were consenting adults who were making a conscious choice to do so? Why should their opinion carry any less weight? Why should anyone deem them incapable of making their own decisions? And even more worryingly why should a group of pretty young ladies parading themselves in different outfits offend anyone? The idiom ‘live and let live’ instantly came to mind.
I will acknowledge though that modern society is obsessed with beauty and glamour. It is a fact and something that simply cannot be ignored, but this is a worldwide fad and certainly not unique to pageants as such.
As a father to both a girl and a boy I must admit that I wouldn’t want either of my children to ever enter any of these contests, especially not the girl. I do understand though that at the end of the day it’s their choice and not mine. If my daughter for example decided she wanted to be ogled and rated on her looks alone then so be it, it’s her choice after all. I guess there are far worse things that she could decide to do.
Anti-pageant crusaders usually refer to beauty pageants as meaningless, disturbing, cattle auctions, which send a poisonous message. Now I am aware that these people have as much of a right to express their views as anyone else, even it does mean targeting and lambasting a specific sector of our society. But if pageants send out a ‘poisonous’ message what kind of message do these same people send out when they knowingly choose to stereotype all beauty pageant contestants and refer to them as mere cattle? Not a great one that’s for sure. How do you think these young women would feel if they ever came across or heard such comments and saw their efforts/accomplishments ridiculed and belittled in such a blatant manner? Far from empowered I guess.
This past Saturday during our annual beauty pageant, Maroua Kharbouch the 2013 winner made an impassionate speech whilst handing down her crown highlighting how her tenure had, had a very positive impact on her life. It was something that I was glad to hear especially after seeing so many negative pageant related comments on social media. There stood an intelligent, young woman telling everyone who was willing to listen about her enjoyable reign, which had helped her develop as an individual. Kaine Aldorino another native and previous winner who even went on to take the Miss World crown a few years ago would surely agree with such a notion, she is now our deputy Mayor!
People tend to forget that for many of these contestants it is not only about competing but also about socialising, gaining confidence and encouraging personal growth. There is much more to a beauty pageant than meets the eye, pardon the pun.
Additionally many of these ‘queens’ usually get heavily involved with a number of different charities and do their fair share for their respective communities. Visiting schools, inspiring young girls and raising awareness on a number of issues which would have never, have gotten as much publicity if it were not for their efforts. Whether such actions are part of the Pageant Queen persona or not is irrelevant in my opinion as at the end of the day the good deeds get done and that is what really counts.
I doubt it’s just me who fails to see the irony behind the demeaning comments usually spewed by those who frown upon such competitions. Those who in their infinite wisdom profess to know what’s best for the world’s female population yet refuse to take into account the democratic wishes of those who choose to partake in such events. I guess the fact that pageant competitors are real people with real feelings does little to discourage some.
As a good friend of mine once said, I don't know what's worse rating someone on their beauty or insulting them when they win. That's someone’s daughter.