I wanted to do a thread on beauty pageants, as they are something we all know a little about. I bought a book the other day called Pageant: The Beauty Contest by Keith Lovegrove. I have been reading it and it got me thinking. I couldn’t see a better event to write about. This is project looking objectively at the female form. And I believe that female pageants no matter how unconventional parade the female body as spectacle.
A Bit Of History
Miss Great Britain and Miss World were both on television from the early 70’s and were seen as a big TV night in for a family, like the grand national or the Eurovision song contest. In the early 70’s the critiques of the pageant were not about, is it right to objectify women in this way but, were about what was proper. You know questions like was Miss Bournemouth’s dress to showy or is Miss Brightens skirt to short.
However things seemed to change rather quickly towards the end of the 70’s –possibly due to the change in thinking at the time with the end of the tune in drop out! hippie days and the beginning of the rebellious punk scene- people began to question the morality of parading those thought the most beautiful women in the country before panels, and judging them mainly on there looks. There were protests against pageants witch resulted in them vanishing from popular TV channels for quite some time.
By the early 1990’s the popularity of the pageant was at its height again, with miss world fetching huge audiences worldwide. In the book Lovegrove implies that it is the worlds fascination with beautiful woman and the spectacle of the females that allowed the pageant to go from strength to strength. The writer Sais that the again growing popularity of these famous pageants proved that politically incorrect ‘sexploitation’ was still very popular.
As you may have noticed the pageant is still a popular formula for entertainment today, especially in America but in Britain too. I just wonder why it is that they are so popular. What is it that makes people want to watch them? Is it just that people like to look at beautiful things, and the woman who take part in these events are judged the most beautiful in there region or country? Or is it the Big Brother fascination? The same thing that makes us watch show’s like America’s next top model, or read heat magazine.
Pageants are very exclusive events that pick the best or most appropriate people according to the criteria the pageant follows. And there for, I don’t know if they are a good thing. But I will speak more about that later.
There is a quote in the book from Denise Quinones who was crowned Miss Universe in 2001. What I’m most proud of is that I had the chance during my reign to serve as a role model of ‘beauty’ truly is. It is something that can be appreciated only from with in oneself. It is not about how you look on the outside, but how you feel in your own skin that is the important message. It is about belief in yourself and in your confidence. It is not about having a beautiful face, but a beautiful soul that extends to others.” Now I thought this was a lovely quote, I was quite surprised. Then I got thinking, this is coming from a very beautiful woman who won a contest that only beautiful women can enter and win and for me that totally undermined what was said.
I believe pageants judge people mainly on their looks (although some would disagree with this). Now there are many different kinds of alternative pageants witch I will cover in the next section of this thread. Still, to me no matter what sort of pageant is up for discussion they all pigeon hole women in to a category in away, and I think there is enough insecurity in female body politics with out further segregating our self’s in to categories.
There will be further entries on this coming up. Part two will focus on the rebellion against traditional pageants, and the result of this.