Beautiful faces, stunning dresses and pitch-perfect body language. Beauty pageants like Miss World and Miss Universe allow young women to express their style and personality, and are often closely associated with humanitarian causes, like Miss World’s ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ programme, a non-profit organisation that awards the contestant with the most relevant and important charity project in her nation. But are pageants truly empowering women? Or do they further stereotype the ‘fairer sex’? Gulf News readers debate.
We should celebrate inner beauty
I think beauty pageants should be banned because they spread a wrong message to the youth. Young people become extremely conscious about outer beauty, when in fact there should be platforms that celebrate inner beauty. In today’s world, there is so much hype about outer beauty, whereas there are other contests like quiz competitions and talent shows that allow contestants to compete on skill and talent. But no media coverage or hype is created around them, which is much more important because such contests can help create a better world. I know being presentable is important but such pageants discourage people who might be born with disabilities or might look different.
Even the definition of beauty seems to be very limited and you cannot judge beauty on such limited factors. Instead, they should open the contest to women of all body types.
They also do not promote a healthy lifestyle.
As for the humanitarian work associated with beauty contests, I think it is more of a marketing technique because if they really want to promote charity work, they should invite those people who are successfully running NGOs in their country to encourage people to do charity work.
From Ms Tejaswini Gadekar
Web developer living in Dubai
‘Plus-sized’ models are often healthier than regular ones
I don’t think they should be banned but they should add a lot more value to these contests than just beauty on the surface. So, they could promote a lot more standards of beauty, definitely weight-wise, and could include more talent and intelligence. The winners, overall, show no diversity in body type. I watched the question and answer stage of the Miss World contest this year, and I liked that they posed important questions to these contestants, but I was not realy impressed by the answers.
As for whether such pageants encourage children’s beauty contests, I feel that at that age, you should embrace everything in life; don’t focus on ‘beauty’ that much. You should let them embrace other parts of their personality, let them explore themselves as they are still figuring themselves out.
I also do not think that such contests help create a focus on fitness. People who are considered plus-sized by the fashion industry are actually healthy. If that kind of a body image is promoted, people might have a better idea of what is healthy. Because if you are really skinny you might not be unhealthy necessarily, but it cannot be considered healthy either.
In my circle of friends, I don’t think too many people are interested in beauty pageants. We are more into shows like American Idol, because that is what appeals to our generation. I guess it shows that talent is what appeals to people more than beauty on the surface.
From Ms Sarah Paul
School student living in Dubai
It distracts women from bigger priorities
I think its negatives are much more than its positives. Firstly, because it stresses on the fact that the person who is distinguished and unique is the one who has good physical features. So, it distracts women from focussing on improving their education, culture, skills, career and competencies. Secondly, beauty is very relative and personal. I believe that every woman has her own beauty and you can never compare the beauty of one woman to the other. You also cannot set universal criteria for it — it differs from country to country, culture to culture, and region to region. So, I believe that there should be contests where the best thinkers, artists, entrepreneurs are brought together, so it is more comprehensive and where they not only focus on the differences but also embrace them. You can never be the best at everything and you have no hand in how beautiful you are. You also cannot improve your physical appearance, but you can improve your talent and skills.
It also affects children quite negatively when it comes to children’s beauty pageants. They are just children and have to be treated so. They should live their lives in such a way that parents naturally encourage skills that are good and positive.
As for health and fitness — you can be curvy and still be healthy and you could be stick-thin but not healthy. If you have healthy habits, you stay healthy. There is no real connection between your appearance and your health, especially since hormones play such a big role.
However, instead of banning pageants immediately, they should be limited and our focus should be on other contests that celebrate real talent. Of course the pageant contestants have their own fans and in order to respect them, there should be no ban on pageants. However, overtime as the focus shifts to other contests, they can be done away with altogether.
From Dr Suzy Sobhi
Dean of Studies at Health, Sciences and Safety Institute living in Ras Al Khaimah
Child pageants are ten times worse than adult beauty pageants
I am not very clued in to the world of beauty pageants but from what I have seen, they are superficial and potentially quite fake as well. For example, the typical idea that you get of a beauty pageant is that the presenter asks the contestants what do you want more than anything else, and they say, “World peace!” I feel like they are just saying what needs to be said in such situations in particular.
In terms of body image, I work in the health and fitness industry, so for me having a healthy body composition is something that is very important. With pageants, there can be a slight negativity around body image because a lot of contestants might take up drastic diets to try and lose many kilos before the show, which is not a healthy, sustainable way to reach your idea body weight.
But when it comes to children’s pageants, I definitely feel they are ten times worse than adult pageants because, firstly, they are institutionalising children already. They are saying it is good for you to be better than somebody else by competing and winning. They are not instilling the idea ‘love and appreciate yourself’, they are saying compete as much as you can. The children not winning are already suffering heavily from feelings of being rejected and feeling average because a set of judges has ruled them to not be in the ‘top three’. With children, it instills this competitive nature and a lack of self-love.
To be honest, personally, I don’t see any benefit to pageants, at least in terms of helping the obesity epdicemic that is affecting the world. I feel like it is an extreme version of what the general public should be or feel. The only benefit I could see is that it might help participants to grow in a way. They are able to perform on stage or be confident in front of the camera. Other than that, ethically, I don’t see any benefits, to be honest.
But I also don’t think pageants should be banned. The older I grow, the less judgemental I like to be of others. Anyone should be able to do anything they want, as long as they are not hurting themselves.
But I would say that they should not be idolised as much as they potentially are these days. I do feel that child pageants, in particular, should be done in a way that every child feels special and a winner.
From Mr Rob Donker
Fitnesss professional and nutritionist living in Dubai
— Compiled by Huda Tabrez/Community Web Editor
Gulf News asked: Do you think beauty pageants should be banned?
Have your say: Do you think beauty pageants focus on the superficial and encourage negative body image? How do you see it affecting children, and children’s beauty pageants, in particular? Do you think they help people focus on getting fit and healthy? Write to us at email@example.com