Ponderments, Raisin Pickneys

Beauty Pageants and Cobeaux: officially moulding ugly perceptions since 1789

Sorry eh, but after being bombarded on my social network feeds about the Ms. Universe 2013 pageant and witnessing several heated debates about “who hotter than who”, “who looked like horse and who resembling cobeaux”, “who nose too long or who missing bottom” and so forth, I feel morally obligated to break from my studies and put in my two cents.

corbeaux keep it real

Beauty pageants are archaic, frivolous and wasteful. Why? Here are my top arguments:

  1. It propagates a ridiculous notion that beauty (and femininity/ masculinity) lies within a certain physical box
  2. It objectifies both women and men (it’s the 21st century people! enough already with the sexism!)
  3. It nurtures the idea that looks, deportment and character should and would be judged in a winners vs. losers style (seriously, how dare we support pageants that send messages to scores of precious contestants that their own beauty is insufficient or second to another?)
  4. It is a corporate gimmick in guise of “benefactored” sheep clothing that in reality benefits a select, privileged few
  5. It glorifies extravagance in a world full of poverty (why in war-plagued, disaster-struck 2013, an emerald, diamond and ruby studded bathsuit? Rub it in the faces of the international destitute why dontya Yamamay?)

diamond bikini

Now since the beginning of time, this judgement of physical appearance has prevailed. Greek legends spoke of “contests of beauty”, George Washington was serenaded by delegations of fair maidens on his inauguration, circus baron Phineas T. Barnum exhibited exotic women and pioneered “The World Book of Female Beauty”, and of course the wildly successful 1953 publication by the world’s most famous playboy, Hugh Hefner that triggered near mass hysteria.


Fast-track to modern day>>>Despite the efforts of some courageous corporate norm-breakers, we still live in a world of Barbie dolls, Bratz dolls, glamification of  every plastic-surgery obsessed celebrity, and child pageants (which btw should be banned without even a thought!) Now tie all of this in  with our own Caribbean culture and its ever existent concepts of “high colour” + the power of Vicco tumeric cream, “little  chile boobs” + the phenomenon of “filling out”, and “buff-ness” + “gymming” versus “hennish-ness” , and let me know what you get!

vicco                                        heavy

Few of us realise that these perceptions of beauty are century-old learnt behaviour.  Think about it, most of us subscribe to these retrogressive societal norms—it just seems natural doesn’t it? Pageants seem like a product of nature’s own law, so it’s quite normal for ourselves and our own daughters/ sons to view these glamorous parades. But is it then ok for us (and worst yet, our offspring) to go through our lives thinking that it’s acceptable to be on parade and at the mercy of others who judge based on outward appearance and deportment?

Sure, I’ve had wonderful, genuinely beautiful inside-and-out friends who participate in these pageants , and I’m happy they feel fulfilment on their own terms or benefit from prize grants….Heck! Even in my own high school years I entered our in-school pageant as a bet (and just for the fun of it) and cupped 1st runner-up in my age category!

44391_437052287160_2059220_n 2

However, in retrospect, even though it was loads of fun, I know now that we need to make more conscious efforts to break away from any self/other-denigrating mould. Judging based on physical appearance is not ok, and we are a society that is infatuated with outward beauty. It is what paves the way for ultimate self criticism and lack of confidence. Countless men and women (both young and old) are tortured daily by insecurities which have been fuelled by society’s own poisonous physical obsession. It is all around us, in our media, homes and prevailing mentalities, and can lead to senseless, addictive and dangerous behaviour if not curbed.



Take a look at these other wonderfully articulated arguments at>>> http://www.object.org.uk/beauty-pageants

And even better, read the following eloquent and impassioned article written by Courtney E. Martin, the author of “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters” and “Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists” for the New York Times>>>

“Beauty pageants should go the way of the corset. They’re outdated and restrictive and perpetuate a damaging link between real world success and a woman’s capacity to cultivate a very specific, stereotypical definition of beauty.

Should women, like Chelsea Rick, Miss Mississippi 2013, have to parade around in bikinis and high heels to win scholarship money from the Miss America Organization?
Let’s face it: the most beautiful women you’ve ever encountered would be total losers in a traditional pageant. That’s because authentic, messy, transcendent beauty can’t be scored. It isn’t tamed, plucked, planned, premeditated or rehearsed. And people like Donald Trump, who owns the Miss USA pageant, are clearly not the purveyors of it.

Real beauty is about resilience: girls and women who have been through something and come out the other side with an idiosyncratic scar or a hard-earned wrinkle, like the first lines of a powerful story. If there were a pageant where girls were asked, “When did you really get lost and how did you find your way back to yourself?” — well, then I might go in for that.

I’m not sure those kinds of questions, that kind of beauty, would be a great fit for lucrative corporate sponsorships. And this is one more reason that pageants should die. They are essentially moneymaking machines fueled by female insecurity and submission.

I’ve heard the argument that they can be great sources of scholarship money for low-income women, but I’d rather live in a world where those same girls don’t have to learn how to walk in high heels to afford college. I’ve also heard the argument that the pageant experience builds confidence and community among the participants; so does “nerding out” on the debate team or flashing across a lacrosse field. (And you still get to wear a skirt, if that’s your thing.)

The bottom line is that beauty is an organic process, not a contest. Women deserve and know better.”

Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/09/12/is-the-miss-america-pageant-bad-for-women/beauty-pageants-like-the-miss-america-contest-should-die. (9/11/2013)


Couldn’t have said it more effectively…

Audrey-hepburn-inspirational-quotes-6 2370-my-life-is-mine-it-does-not-belong-to-society-culture-or_380x280_width

#beautypageants, #pageants, #beauty, #ugly, #MissUniverse2013, #Yamamay, #ViccoTumericCream, #HughHefner, #PlayboyMagazine # CourtneyE.Martin, #NewYorkTimes, #perceptions, #socialnorms, #feminism, #sexism, #masculinity, #feminity


4 thoughts on “Beauty Pageants and Cobeaux: officially moulding ugly perceptions since 1789”

      1. I agree with a great deal of what you wrote and tweeted it. i also linked it to my Google +. i have to say though that I think the Miss World competition is very different to Trump`s . It is not ostentatious and the winner spends her year working with children.


  1. Thank you for your excellent points Barbara!
    RE: Miss World-I’m glad there is integration of charitable service, talents and intelligence into some pageants (love the Goodwill Pageants especially)> but the point remains that in essence, these competitions still heavily judge based on physical appearance (what’s the logic behind still carrying a swimsuit round? What message does that carry to our young girls?). I’m definitely not a hater when it comes to the contestants themselves; these beautiful ladies often prove to be brainy and kindhearted women :)—but what I do despise is that basic age-old ideology that it is acceptable for society to judge you based on your appearance and to determine for us, what is beautiful and not.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s