Siena College's Student Newspaper

Opinion

Beauty Pageants: Detrimental to Women’s Minds

 Image result for miss america nina

After recently watching the 2000 classic film, “Miss Congeniality,” I began to wonder whether beauty pageants were detrimental to the minds of women. These women in the pageants spend much of their time and effort painting their faces, dying their hair, watching what they eat, losing the weight, and fitting into revealing outfits. It seems that all beauty pageants are sexist, and they cause women to flaunt their physical attributes to a wide audience who will then judge them off of their looks. Yes, there are other aspects of a beauty pageant: personal interviews, talent, swimsuit (or fitness competition) and the evening gown attire. Even if the category is not meant to explicitly judge the women off of their appearance, everyone is simply looking at the visible traits and characteristics of these women’s bodies.  A blog post from Rappler reads, “Feminists say the country’s obsession with beauty pageants is harmful to women because they encourage women to measure their worth by their physical attributes.” Is that what we should be teaching to young women? You are only worth something in this world if you are beautiful on the outside? That is not what my mom told me, let me tell you.

In 2014, Nina Davuluri won the crown, and was titled, “Miss America.” Now the Miss America Pageant has been one of the most famous pageants in our nation’s history, but it has been a controversial event since its inception, for it focuses on physical appearances and promotes unrealistic female attributes. Nina Davuluri claimed that pageants promote female empowerment. Why? It appears that Nina believes women should make use of their good looks to succeed. Sure, that sounds ideal, but not every woman in this world is “beauty-pageant thin” with bouncy hair and perfect skin. Should those women who do not have these nonviable features feel that they will be unsuccessful? Absolutely not.

Beauty pageants affect the psychological impacts of women in many ways. Females, who according to their physicians, have a BMI that is slender, are actually unhappy with their body types and think of themselves as ‘large.’ Women that were not competing in the pageants had realistic views of their body image and were content in their own skin. The pageant participants suffered from low self-esteem and depression because they continuously compared themselves to models in the media and actresses in Hollywood.

We all know of the popular, yet disturbing, show, Toddlers and Tiaras. Annette Hill, the pageant director, claimed during the first episode that she wanted the little girls to wear one piece bathing suits for a more natural feel during the swimsuit competition. Despite the girls being mostly covered up, the would still sway their hips and mimic a sexualized womanly walk. It is not natural for little girls under the age of twelve to feel that they should be dressing up and putting on makeup to showcase their looks. The youngest contestants were only two to three years old, but “it seems that their young minds learn that their future involves being pretty.” 

It seems that women of all ages are searching to be something and someone that aligns with celebrity status and model tendencies. I do not think participating in a beauty pageant is going to raise your self-esteem; I think it will be your fifteen minutes of fame to show off the spray tan and teeth whitening that you were advised to use. I think that women should stick to feeling comfortable in their own, natural skin and work to perfect yourself in a way that personally makes you feel good. Those are the people I look up to; everyday people like you and me, not those pageant queens.