Monday, April 23, 2012

Beauty Pageants: Exposition of Exploitation

Are beauty pageants exploitative? Absolutely, but to a certain degree, those who participate in them choose to do so. If they’re okay with being objectified, put through pointless competitions to assure themselves that they are prettier than the next person, then who is to stop them? Pageants have been around for years, centuries even, in which the focus of them is to put a spotlight on those who shine just a little brighter than the rest of us in some aspect. In Australia, there doesn’t seem to be the pageant sub-culture as there appears to be in America. We see the occasional baby pageants, where parents dress their infant children up in ridiculous costumes for a chance to win money, accolades and assurances that they have birthed a beautiful child. I remember being back at university, on a Saturday afternoon when my friends and I were channel flicking. We found a broadcast of the Miss Universe pageant. I immediately went on a verbal tirade, spelling out why these pageants were out of date and how fake it all was… And no, I didn’t even go into the surgical enhancements [of which I am sure there were many]. The charitable contributions of these women are off kilter. On the one hand they give their time to charities so, you know, good for them, but part of me wonders if the whole point of their charity work is to make them more appealing to the judges. I love movies that make fun of pageants. From Drop Dead Gorgeous to Miss Congeniality [the 1st movie, not the 2nd], they showcase the worst of the worst, and the best of the best behaviours of pageant administrators, contestants and support people. Are they exploitative? Yes. Should they be stopped so that people can focus their energies on more important things than being known for being ‘beautiful’? Yes, but they won’t be. It’s where the money truly is. From dresses, hair, make up, staging, advertising. People would be out of jobs if there was suddenly an international abolishment of beauty pageants. And don’t even get me started on child beauty pageants. Any time I see images on tv or in magazines of heavily made up children, it creeps me out. It’s unnatural. Kids should be kids, and not focusing on being able to fit into that pretty dress to impress a couple of judges. It’s not really any different from reality TV ‘talent’ competitions in that way. People train for them like they are the Olympics, putting their whole lives on hold just for this one moment in front of the cameras.

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