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Author Topic: Are beauty contests evil?  (Read 645 times)

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Offline BeorningTopic starter

Are beauty contests evil?
« on: August 27, 2014, 03:19:20 PM »
Question inspired by something I just saw on TV.

There was a programme with two journalists talking and one of them, a man known for his strong pro-left, pro-liberal and pro-equality views mentioned beauty contests. In the context of how unfortunate it is that they are still taking place. I believe his opinion was that such contests are sexist and wrong.

He also mentioned the fashion industry and how women who work there (meaning, models) are being totally objectified. So, I guess he's against modelling, too. But on the other hand, my feminist sister seems to be fascinated by modelling, so it's not necessarily a view universal to all feminist-minded people...

So... what do you think? I have no opinion here, although I'm not a big fan of neither beauty contests, or models...
« Last Edit: August 27, 2014, 03:22:50 PM by Beorning »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2014, 03:24:08 PM »
'Evil' is a bit melodramatic.  Do they focus on the wrong things?  I think so.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2014, 03:25:22 PM »
Okay, so I made the title a bit over-the-top to gather your attention...  ;)

But the question remains: are they wrong? Should they stop?

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2014, 03:34:28 PM »
Because the focus is primarily on the appearance of the contestant it's a purely judgmental issue.  However, appearance is only a part of the criteria in the more widely known pageants while intelligence, personality and socialization have become slightly more important in the judging.

The main reason I feel they could be done away with is that they have spawned the kiddy pageants that are rife with over-eager and over-bearing parents who push the child into being the pretties, the best in everything and often berate and demean them when they don't win.  A few children might thrive on this type of life but since they can begin as babies they really don't know anything better. 

Training children and contestants makes big bucks for the people involved so I don't thing pageants are going to fall by the wayside anytime soon.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2014, 03:35:48 PM »
They could redesign them.  More emphasis could be placed on character and accomplishments and less on 'Swimsuit' and 'Evening Wear'.

The kiddie pageants on the other hand are shudder-inducing.

Offline consortium11

Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2014, 03:53:22 PM »
I think "evil" is a very strong word to use in most contexts.

So on that basis, no beauty contests aren't evil. If we want "evil" to have any meaning beyond "dislikeable" I don't think many of the even the most ardent opponents to beauty contests would consider them evil.

But removing "evil" and looking at it in more general terms?

I don't particularly like beauty contests. At their simplest they are basically just an exercise in objectification. Even ones that try to be more nuanced such as the infamous Miss World still present a rather outdated view on what it means to be the "perfect woman". Even if we ignore the bikini and evening dress rounds, what's left? How much charity work you do (Beauty with a Purpose)? How fit you keep yourself (Miss World Sports)? How well you can sing or play a musical instrument (Miss World Talent)? How nice your Facebook page is (Miss Multimedia)? How demure and graceful you can be (Personality)? Is that really summing up the "perfect woman"? One who looks good in an evening dress and bikini, can sing a bit, has a non-controversial personality, occasionally shows up to Charity event and has a helper set up a good website?

But are they bad?

I can understand the arguments that by putting forward an outdated, somewhat masculine-centred view of the perfect woman these contests influence women to be that and nothing more. But I think that argument lacks strength for the simple reason that Miss World and similar contests are largely a piece of historical flotsam in today's popular culture. Sure, everyone's heard of Miss World... but could you name all the rounds in it (I couldn't... I needed to google it). Could you name the last five winners without resorting to google? If not their names then which country they're from? Hell, which continent? I couldn't and I doubt many could. Wait for Miss World later this year... I'll be you there will be far more coverage in the media about people complaining about it then about the contest itself.

As for the more brunt bikini contests and the like... I doubt there's any girl in world who's working away because her ambition in life is to be Miss Spring Break 2017. I'm pretty certain that most of the people who take part (willingly remember) do the contest, take a couple of shots, have a party and go back to doing whatever it was they were hoping to do before.

Many men like looking at pretty women, be they fully clothed, with a wet t-shirt, in a bikini or in even less. That won't change. And there are women who are willing... be it for money, popularity or because it makes them feel good... to put themselves on display. I may find the pretentiousness of Miss World nauseous and the crude howling of a frat pack at a bikini contest pathetic but I don't think there's too much particularly wrong about it.

I do think there are issues with child pageants and the like... although beyond the sexualisation of children a lot of my issues there are with parental pressure, as opposed to the events themselves... many of the same criticisms could apply to the "Tiger Mums" who put huge pressure on their children to be "perfect" in school and extra-curricular activities. 

Offline Oniya

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Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2014, 03:56:45 PM »
I do think there are issues with child pageants and the like... although beyond the sexualisation of children a lot of my issues there are with parental pressure, as opposed to the events themselves... many of the same criticisms could apply to the "Tiger Mums" who put huge pressure on their children to be "perfect" in school and extra-curricular activities.

Mine as well - and I have the same issues with the 'Tiger Moms'.

Offline consortium11

Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2014, 04:02:17 PM »
He also mentioned the fashion industry and how women who work there (meaning, models) are being totally objectified.

The fashion industries a strange one, because on one hand it's completely objectifying while on the other it's the exact opposite.

A traditional fashion model is there to show off the clothes. They are in essence a moving clothes hanger or mannequin... in that regard their personality doesn't matter. Which on paper makes them completely objectified.

But then you look at the changes in the fashion industry over recent years and what you'll see is that the top super models tend to be those who do show a personality beyond being a clothes horse. Cara Delevingne's a good case in point... her popularity (both in general and in the fashion industry) took off once more of her personality came out.

Most of the top paid models in the world tend to either have been or be Victoria's Secret Angels. And again, on paper, that should be pretty objectifying... you're being paid to look good in underwear, strut around a catwalk and make sultry eyes at the camera in commercials. But again, Victoria's Secret has made a big deal out of making sure their Angel's personalities do shine through and actually humanising the models.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2014, 04:34:21 PM »
Because the focus is primarily on the appearance of the contestant it's a purely judgmental issue.  However, appearance is only a part of the criteria in the more widely known pageants while intelligence, personality and socialization have become slightly more important in the judging.

I admit that I'm not entirely convinced by the "personality" aspect of these pageants... For once, it seems to have been added to placate the criticism - "Look, we're not about looks! We ask one question about the candidates' interests, too!". Also, this aspect seems to be mostly about whether the candidates are nice, like other people and do charity work. If the past beauty pageant seemed to promote the "pretty doll" role model, the recent ones go with "pretty doll with a good heart". It's not that much of a difference...

I don't particularly like beauty contests. At their simplest they are basically just an exercise in objectification. Even ones that try to be more nuanced such as the infamous Miss World still present a rather outdated view on what it means to be the "perfect woman". Even if we ignore the bikini and evening dress rounds, what's left? How much charity work you do (Beauty with a Purpose)? How fit you keep yourself (Miss World Sports)? How well you can sing or play a musical instrument (Miss World Talent)? How nice your Facebook page is (Miss Multimedia)? How demure and graceful you can be (Personality)? Is that really summing up the "perfect woman"? One who looks good in an evening dress and bikini, can sing a bit, has a non-controversial personality, occasionally shows up to Charity event and has a helper set up a good website?

Yeah, that are my objections, too...

The fashion industries a strange one, because on one hand it's completely objectifying while on the other it's the exact opposite.

A traditional fashion model is there to show off the clothes. They are in essence a moving clothes hanger or mannequin... in that regard their personality doesn't matter. Which on paper makes them completely objectified.

But then you look at the changes in the fashion industry over recent years and what you'll see is that the top super models tend to be those who do show a personality beyond being a clothes horse. Cara Delevingne's a good case in point... her popularity (both in general and in the fashion industry) took off once more of her personality came out.

I'd agree with that...

On one hand, models do seem objectivied - nothing matters about them aside from their looks. On the other hand, I watched the Polish edition of Project Runway, which was hosted by the supermodel Anja Rubik and... when I looked at her in that show, I didn't see an objectified person. She simply was an intelligent, accomplished woman fully in charge of her career. She seemed liberated, not objectified.

Online Qt

Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2014, 06:32:31 PM »
On the topic of objectification, since that seems to be the core of this. I really don't see who is doing the objectifying. Since objectification seems to paint the participants as being forced into this but they are not. I'm quite sure that no gun is being pointed at their head to force them to be objectified.

Therefore any form of objectification is something chosen. Really I think it's just flat out wrong to remove the agency of the participants and say they are objectified, they have chosen and acted that way. They are subjects not objects.

As for whether beauty pageants... there's market for them, there's a supply and a demand and as far as I know no one is getting hurt, so how is it wrong?

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2014, 06:49:17 PM »
As for whether beauty pageants... there's market for them, there's a supply and a demand and as far as I know no one is getting hurt, so how is it wrong?

I agree with this.

Even if we all agreed that beauty pageants were sexist and wrong, there is little grounds for getting rid of them.  So long as there is a demand for it, and consenting adult women are willing to supply the demand, it will continue to thrive.

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2014, 07:04:29 PM »
I went to the Miss America website and clicked "Become a Contestant" under Competiiton Info and found the following:

Quote
Become a Contestant

    "I did lots of things. I was a pianist, but not quite good enough to get a music scholarship; an athlete, but I didn't play a varsity sport; smart, but not smart enough to get an academic scholarship. So competing in the Miss America program was an opportunity to get a scholarship for school."

    Kellye Cash
    Miss America 1987

Quote
Becoming a Contestant Fast Facts:

To compete you must

    Be between the ages of 17 and 24.
    Be a United States citizen.
    Meet residency requirements for competing in a certain town or state.
    Meet character criteria as set forth by the Miss America Organization.
    Be in reasonably good health to meet the job requirements.
    Be able to meet the time commitment and job responsibilities as set forth by the local program in which you compete.

You can learn more about the Miss America competition by visiting http://www.missamerica.org/default.aspx and clicking Competition Info.  Most of your questions might be answered in their FAQ section.

I found the first quote in this post particularly telling since it was written in 1987, nearly 30 years ago, and they are still using it today.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2014, 02:19:12 AM »

For mature, consenting adults who are fully aware of what they are getting into, I see no real harm.  Not everyone can get by in this world on their "smarts" alone. Some get by on their physical strength, their ability to make friends, or other skills and personal assets. If you have physical beauty, you are certainly free to utilize it.

Offline Sabby

Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2014, 06:49:08 AM »
I concur with Tainted. No adult should be told they can't do something so long as no one is harmed and all involved are happy and consent to it.

Child pageants, on the other hand... the parents should be forcibly sterilized and their children removed from them. Okay, that is a bit extreme, I just really cannot stand parents who try to live their lives over through their children. All those pageants accomplish is set the child up for failure later in life.

Offline Scribbles

Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2014, 03:49:52 AM »
Aren't we all missing the biggest issue here?

As "Beauty" contests move away from pure looks and begin focusing on personality and talent, shouldn't the name change?

Perhaps, "I'm Better Than All of You" or "Perfect People" contests are the future?

Silliness aside, I've generally disliked beauty contests because they promote everything I despise about our culture today, like the need to be perfect. I've had to watch a lot of friends suffer in pursuit of such stupid goals and I'll happily criticize anything which revolves around such ideas.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2014, 03:36:57 PM »
Earlier posters came fairly close to my issue - the core message of beauty pageants seems, to me, to be "Your value as a person can and will be judged by a handful of superficial traits. As a woman, you should aspire to this reduction of your personality and identity." I wouldn't say "evil", but I would say "harmful".

Offline Mathim

Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2014, 05:41:53 PM »
To my mind, they'd only be 'evil' if the intent really was nothing more than to objectify and perpetuate this belief throughout humanity. The fact that it really just boils down to a lowest-common-denominator method of making $$$, it's pretty benign. Immoral, though? Hell yes. And as for the child pageants...

<snip>
Video removed--please do not embed media with minors in it. (Staff)
« Last Edit: September 04, 2014, 09:21:49 PM by Blythe »

Offline Amazee

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Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2014, 03:42:52 AM »
I think that they are beginning to bring out the worst in people because they are only interested in proving how beautiful that they are to each other to make others feel bad. I feel that a beauty pageant should be more about inner beauty rather than out beauty since some some can be really catty and hurtful.

Child pageants on the other hand I think are really evil. Why would you want to glam up you child and parade her in front of judges? I just can't get my head around that. I think they are overly sexing up their kids in a bid to get them to win. After what happened with JonBenet, I would hope that people would think more before putting their 7 year old glammed up with make-up and looking like a mini-Marilyn Monroe on the stage for everybody to see.

Offline Sassenach91

Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #18 on: October 03, 2014, 05:16:02 PM »
I don't agree with them at all. And this video link below explains part of the reason. John Oliver nails everything that is wrong with the Miss America Pageant in this fifteen minute long stint. Its as funny as it is informative. Enjoy:


Offline Sheoldred

Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2014, 05:49:27 PM »
Do they really ask beauty pageants questions like that? This is the first time I took a glimpse at Miss America in action, honestly. I wonder if their daddies paid for some kind of special courses where they were taught to answer such questions in 20 seconds. Like in some pioneer camp in the USSR.

Offline Sassenach91

Re: Are beauty contests evil?
« Reply #20 on: October 03, 2014, 09:08:19 PM »
Do they really ask beauty pageants questions like that? This is the first time I took a glimpse at Miss America in action, honestly. I wonder if their daddies paid for some kind of special courses where they were taught to answer such questions in 20 seconds. Like in some pioneer camp in the USSR.
They do ask questions like that. Most parade as a scholarship fund but it costs thousands of dollars to be in these pageants and most contestants spend more than what they actually receive.