Rebecca says: Against
When I really think about it I actually have a major problem with beauty pageants.
Firstly, I dislike the emphasis of appearance over substance. Before I get attacked by everyone who has ever entered a pageant I am more than aware that beauty pageants do take other elements including hobbies, talents and volunteer work into consideration.
However they also take how girls look in their swimsuits into consideration. This I seriously have a problem with due not only because the thought of me standing in front of a crowd of people in a swimsuit is horrific but also the fact that it is superficial and to a certain degree objectifies women. Has feminism taught us nothing?
Secondly in some parts of the world, including our own very dear country, there are beauty pageants for children. And yet we wonder why children are becoming increasingly sexualised and growing up too quickly. Well it could be the fact that such events encourage young girls to wear high heels and layers of makeup! It also teaches them at too young an age that looks matter.
The fact that the prize is often money is my third reason for not liking beauty pageants. It’s no longer a case of look this way to win a competition but it’s a case of look this way so you also get money. This motivation takes the fun and innocence out of beauty pageants for me.
Finally, I know that I could never enter one. I’ll admit that I have a certain admiration for girls and women who have the confidence to stand on a stage in front of judges and crowds in next to nothing. I’ve always hoped and believed that brains would and should be placed over beauty. The thing that really bothers me about pageants is that they seem to destroy this hope and I’m not ok with that.
Michelle says: For
Full disclosure: I was once crowned Miss Holiday Haven. On a family package holiday in Wales, age 12, at the height of my pre-teen to teen awkward phase. It was before I discovered make up, heels, tweezers or a sense of style – basically anything that could have helped me out. I was glorious, as I’m sure you can imagine. Having made my new best friends at the teenage day club (ATR: All The Rage – too cool, no?), we all went up on stage that night determined to have a laugh and make a holy show of our families. They crowned someone once a week, but for one, brief, shining moment – that crown was mine.
Some fifteen years on, I still look at pageants as being as harmless as the Father Ted ‘Lovely Girls’ competition. I’ve long accepted that I’ll never make a beauty queen, (Presthaven Sands aside), but I’ve since hosted a few, and been a judge for a couple of different competitions too. The last few years have led me to believe that beauty queen is a very misunderstood breed.
There has, at times, been the odd superficial wagon who thought the world owed her something because she won the genetic lottery and wasn’t half bad with a make-up bag. By and large though, my experience is of nice girls who use what they’ve got to get ahead. It does not mean they’ve chosen beauty over brains, and since when do such things have to be mutually exclusive?
As a nation we’re famously incapable of accepting a compliment, particularly any based on our appearance, and we sadly sometimes look down on those who can take advantage of how they look. Don’t get me wrong, I look at pictures of Victoria’s Secret models and assure myself they can’t possibly be happy – (sure how would they be when they’re always hungry?), but it’s all in jest. Looking that good is bloody hard work. I imagine – it’s not like I’ll ever actually know.
So to current and future ‘Lovely Girls’ I say: If you’ve got it, flaunt it. And if it ever gets too much for you, pull up a seat at our table. We’ve got cookies.