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Are beauty pageants worth it? 

Himika Akram reporter 

I have grown up seeing the craze for the beauty pageant winners in my sub-continent, their rise to stardom (mostly in showbiz) and fan followings. Such as Miss Worlds and Miss Universes such as Aishwariya Roy, Priyanka Chopra, Sushmita Sen, Lara Dutta, Yukta Mookhey and so on. I remember the day of the grand finales of those contests, me, my parents, my cousins, aunts and uncles, everybody sat together in front of the television and would enjoy those nail-biting moments wondering who was going to be the winner. 

 After the winner’s name was announced, we used to get into serious arguments with each other about why the first or the second runner-up deserved it more than the winner and that argument went on and on till the next day, or even for weeks. 

Gone are those days, when we used to get flabbergasted by their answers related to women empowerment and how they are going to use these platforms the pageants are giving them, for the welfare of women, children, and poverty-stricken people in the society. Now, these answers do not impress us anymore, most of them sound cliché, too much commercialization of these pageants, in many cases corruptions and scandals, and plasticization of the contestants, too much skin, and many other factors have been huge turn-offs now for the common people to watch these shows. With the invention of the internet and education spread, people are giving more knowledge, broader perspective and insights which lead us to raise the question, are these pageants empowering or degrading? 

Well, if you give it deep thought, you will see they are degrading. Not only they objectify women, but they also set unrealistic beauty standards. Beauty pageants are making us believe that someone is not pretty unless you have the vital statistics of 36-24-36.  The charity funds being raised under these pageants’ name could have been managed in another alternative way regardless of them. In such a patriarchal world we live in, beauty pageants are only making that patriarchy even stronger. It is proving, no matter how much of a big achiever you are, you are somewhere a minus, unless you are attractive enough from the backside, unless you have a perfect bikini body. 

In 2023, if somebody says beauty pageants are a celebration of womanhood or gives a platform to speak up, nothing sounds shallower than that. Whereas we have a plethora of social networking sites, voicing out your opinion is a matter of 5 seconds now. Celebration of womanhood has much other dignified ways than the beauty pageants. These pageants are doing nothing but enlarging the already wide discrimination which exists in society. Why a woman needs to stand in swimwear to prove her beauty? Who are we trying to please with that? Most importantly, what happens to them after the contest? Where are they lost? For the past several years, the winner names are no longer heard after the contest. So where is the “empowerment” or “platform to voice out” or their “action for the welfare of the society” after they win? They are just lost in the crowd!  

Most importantly, showing up on the stage in front of a bunch of judges in a certain posture to show the proportion of one’s own body is disgusting. You are a human, not a car. If we cannot free ourselves from these kinds of objectification of women, we better not cry about the emancipation and equity for ourselves.  

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