Can we talk for a moment about beauty contests? Those Miss. India, Miss. World types. Come on, you know exactly what I am talking about. Walk the ramp, look beautiful, showcase your best talent, answer a question or two about “what you would do if the world was suddenly dominated by aliens”. Ok, minus the aliens, but that’s a pretty cool question to decide who must be crowned Miss. Most Beautiful and Intelligent Woman in the whole World. Am I right? No? Ok.
In all seriousness, let’s talk about beauty contests. Do they empower women or exploit them? Here’s my painfully amateurish view on the topic. But first, let me tell you a tiny story about today. Or tonight.
*Clears thought*. I actually meant throat, but thought too, actually.
So tonight I attended Miss. India Kenya Worldwide. In short it is a contest in which Indian-Kenyan women compete nationally for the Miss. India Kenya crown, after which they go on to compete on an international level for the Miss. India Worldwide crown. So tonights event had twenty-one women showcasing their talents. And some of them were interesting, others were boring, and the remaining were simply awesome. I mean, talent is really subjective, what some people class as talent, others may think is a superb waste of time. And some people may have an entire different definition of talent – which is okay…sometimes. I had two favourite things about the night. Number one – two performances that I absolutely loved. And number two – not all the models were the societal definition of ‘a model’. That made me happy. The participants were tall, short, thin, fat, whatever, whatever. They were just women who wanted to put themselves out there and that was brilliant. So I don’t what the point of this story was. Just that I went to see a beauty contest is all.
Anyway, are beauty contests empowering or not?
Well, well, well…yes and no. Let’s focus on the yes. Yes because it gives women a platform of expression, it gives them recognition, it gives them the confidence to represent their womanhood and their country, it gives them the opportunity to just be, and to have a good time…(I think). Beauty contests takes women from all walks of life – women with different experiences, different stories, different backgrounds – and gives them a chance to get their voices heard. It is through beauty contests that we can learn something or the other about someone or the other, and I think that is nice.
And then no, because…well…beauty standards. You have to look a certain way to be model material. You have to be fair. Your face has to be symmetrical. No wrinkles. No fat. No nothing. So they bleach these womens’ faces, they inject them, they make sure each and every person looks like the next. And then, the women get sexualised to the next level. Each and every part of their body has to look attractive. And all this is fed into society – be fair, be thin, be this, be that. And it is all really toxic for society. Right?
To be honest, I am just touching up on the surface of things – I know nothing about beauty contests, and these are all the things I just thought of when I watched a participant showcase her talent of styling someone’s hair.