The first image that comes to mind when people think of beauty pageants is of girls up on stage, dressed to the nines, with their makeup and hair expertly groomed. Some people, on the other hand, are aware of the amount of effort, devotion, and planning that goes into these events. The debate over pageants is so fascinating because there are so many different perspectives on them—do they objectify women and depict them as nothing more than gorgeous objects? Or do they provide a platform for women to be empowered?
Professor of Communication Eleanor Novek tells out that one of the most important aspects of beauty pageants is the label itself: beauty. "Unfortunately, a beauty pageant's major focus is physical beauty," she explains. “So young women who might otherwise spend time excelling in sports, or doing science experiments, or writing a novel, or becoming a musician, or traveling and learning about other languages and cultures, or developing their talents through other ways, instead spend the majority of their spare time and energy on their outward appear-ance.” Young women's self-esteem has been found to be lowered by beauty pageants, which can lead to plastic surgery and eating disorders.
There are students from Monmouth University among us who have had this opportunity and have had this experience. Lexi Swatt, a 2016 graduate who was named Miss Fulton County and is a member of the Miss America Organization, is a member of the Miss America Organization. "I knew I wanted to compete, and I knew what I wanted to achieve," Swatt says. "Preparing for the pageants was difficult, both mentally and physically." I was still a student at Monmouth at the time, so it was challenging to eat well, get enough sleep, and practise the skills I required to perform while simultaneously balancing the demands of college life." Many people are probably unaware of the amount of planning and dedication that goes into pageantry.
Pageants 2Pageants and the women who compete in them are stigmatised. Competing is not viewed in the same light by everyone. “I love everything, but I hate the stigma around it,” Swatt confesses. “Pageants are for empowered women who have a vision of making themselves stronger and better, and empower other women to do the same, and come together as one.” The focus on empowerment is something we could focus on more than just the physical beauty of the women who compete. To further that goal, recently Miss Teen USA decided to eliminate the swim-wear part of their competition; instead, the contestants will focus on the importance of physical fitness by wearing athletic wear.
Beauty pageants can be looked at through two lenses; as a negative or as a positive. Pageants can be deemed sexist and antifeminist from one angle, but the women involved are definitely independent and driven women. As small changes, like the elimination of bikini wear, begin to grow, maybe pageants will become less controversial. Either way, it is best to love yourself first, and not feel like you owe anyone anything and have to look a certain way. Everyone is beautiful and unique.