With Harnaaz Sandhu becoming Miss Universe 2021 at the age of 21 being celebrated, there is another dimension to such beauty pageants being organized and we must not forget to look at it. It is definitely a moment of pride that the prestigious title has been won by an Indian woman, but if we tend to deeply look at the realities of such contests, which tend to establish the best standards of beauty for all of us, then there is so much to realize and change.
Source – Eastmojo
At some point in our lives, we all become conscious of ourselves. Sometimes it is about our body weight, and other times it is about the color of our skin. This negative self-perception may be a result of low self-esteem, rigid social beauty standards, and extremely high expectations of oneself. Especially for women, they are always told to look a certain way and worry about their appearance as it’s going to get them an ‘ideal match’ in the future.
Have we ever paused and thought for a while that why, in this era of modernity and feminism (when individuality and humanism have become the only important ideals), are we trying to fit into the best form of everything? There is always this pressure to meet the expectations of others and society. And amidst fulfilling these expectations, we tend to forget about our individuality. Our identity and aspirations of self, get disoriented amidst already determined standards.
Adding to such discrimination and societal pressures are beauty contests. Almost all beauty contests tend to judge all the participants on the basis of a specific body type, physical features, and appearance. The most ironic fact about such competitions is that all these factors are natural and are solely determined by nature. And as Aristotle said centuries ago, “The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.” It is really pointless to judge some people on the basis of purely natural physical characteristics.
Additionally, these beauty contests have serious negative effects on the mental health of the audience. The titles like “miss perfect smile”, “miss perfect eyes” tend to define how a woman’s physical features should be. They try to define a standard of beauty that must be met by everyone. Research on the same theme has suggested that such titles and contests make women feel underconfident and lower their self-esteem.
Source – CNA Lifestyle
Another important dimension to this could be the promotion of classism. The participants and winners of the contest have to continuously maintain their beauty and physical fitness in order to remain in the limelight. It is obvious that to do this, they must be able to afford expensive luxuries and equipment. It indicates that natural bodies are not meant to compete in the contest.
Feminists for centuries have been trying to fight against patriarchal domination, misogyny, and the objectification of women. But thanks to such contests, which reinforce such sexist and objectifying practices. People who get judged on the basis of their appearance and body size tend to objectify women and also define their value on the basis of these factors. This spreads a very orthodox idea in society.
Not only are there adult beauty pageants, but people also organize beauty contests for children. And children take inspiration from advertisements and various beauty contests and follow those clues. At a very young age, children internalize such sexist norms and socially constructed beauty standards. This has a huge impact on their minds and personalities.
Source – edexec.com
The worst part is that such contests have rigid and arbitrary rules that tend to allow only women of a particular age group and single women. This tends to restrict the representation of all women. This indicates that the contest is restricted to only some people and is constrained in its scope. It further pushes the narrative that only some are beautiful or thebest in the world.
There is no hatred against beauty pageants because they are not entirely problematic. With the development of society and enlightenment in society, there are certain ideas and fundamentals of such contests that need to be challenged. All of us, in some way or the other, are trying to build a society that provides everyone with a liberal and safe environment to live in.
Written by- Gargi Singh
Edited by- Riya Khetan
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