Where the world as a whole is striving for diversity and inclusivity, our fashion fraternity especially beauty pageants are yet to evolve. However, we have to admit, we could see changes in a few fashion shows. To take for example, the Fenty X Savage fashion extravaganza. This was one show where beautiful people of all colors, shapes and sizes and sexual orientations took part in the show. To sum it up, it was genuinely diverse and inclusive. So, what is the relevance of beauty pageants today.
In more ways than one, the beauty pageant industry is still stuck in the old ways. Where stick thin figure frame of girls’ parade on the stage for the pleasure of male gaze. While we can somehow agree that beauty pageants do get talents a new door of opportunity, we can also agree that they, now, somehow seem pointless. The need to adhere to a certain body type, or the inclusion of elements such as the Swimsuit Round can really lead to objectification. As a matter of fact, many contests have eliminated this round, purely to avoid such controversies or due to strong ethics. Judging women’s beauty on the body size, is questionable.
The conventional beauty is still a challenge for most women in the beauty and fashion industry. More so because it always results in discarding inclusivity. Yes, some beauty pageants have evolved by concentrating solely on the participant’s talents, social causes support but the ground rule still applies. As Rebecca Reid puts it in the Grazia article, “But no matter what is changed, the principle remains the same. Women are offering themselves up to be rubber-stamped with the approval that they are beautiful.”
We are not saying that beauty pageants are a complete no-no. In fact, there are many who are very much supporting beauty pageants as is and are of the opinion that beauty pageants are still relevant and effective. While this may be partly true, they fail to see the kind of impact it may leave on young women. Plus, no offence to the organizers and participants of beauty pageants and modelling competition shows. But we need to be more proactive here. More importantly, have a sense of conviction when we present such competitions to the young minds. Especially, because they are the ones who may pick up the idea that outer beauty is the end all.
In fact, we should instill the idea that everyone is equally competent and beautiful inside out. Pageants should be more about celebrating womanhood without having to feel the pressure of fitting in just because we are supposed to. It should be about self-confidence, self-love and accepting oneself fully without conforming to the set standards of beauty beyond our comfort zones.
There are many pageants that have re-branded themselves in order to align with the movement on inclusivity and diversity. However, we are still waiting for the others to bend their non- conformed old ways. Critics like Valenti say that despite this supposed evolution, beauty pageants do not belong in a world where feminist ideals are gaining greater acceptance. Where women are assuming more positions of power; and where the idea that people are worth more than their looks is finally being normalized.
We are racing towards general acceptance as well as more diverse and inclusive community where beauty is actually skin-deep regardless of our caste, color, race, sex, religion and so on. It is important that we accept how everyone matters. And no matter how deep our personal issues are; we have to strive for the better good. We are of the opinion that nothing can be a bad thing. But not everything that glitters is gold either. All that matters is how we educate ourselves and everyone around us for the greater good. To conclude, the debate over beauty pageants continues to evolve. It is imperative to look for a way to reflect both. The diversity of female experience and the struggles that comes with it. Especially when so much of women’s worth is calculated by the way they look. The debate, however, continues.
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