Saturday, May 2, 2009

Beauty pageants: excluding and humiliating women  

Yes, Miss California (known for her anti-same-sex marriage views) did receive breast implants paid for in full by the Miss USA pageant. Why? Because beauty pageants, no matter how much people insist it's as much about "personality" as it is about looks, are social constructs that exist to force women to adhere to narrow beauty standards, while dehumanizing and humiliating the 98% of the female population that doesn't fall into this exclusive category. These were the contestants in the Miss USA 2009 pageant:

Not only do many of them look remarkably alike and possess no hint of uniqueness, but there is also a blatant lack of women of color. Why are feminists not doing more to end these pageants that function only to objectify and judge women as if they exist solely to be on display for others? Why aren't we carrying on the plights of the second wave feminists who stood outside the Miss USA pageant and threw makeup, bras, girdles, pantyhose, and other "instruments of torture" into a Freedom Trash Can? Why aren't we sneaking "WOMEN'S LIBERATION" banners into this pageants and flashing them at opportune times? Have we just become so used to our looks-obsessed culture that we've come to accept pageants and stick-thin models as the norm?

I sincerely hope not.

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6 comments: to “ Beauty pageants: excluding and humiliating women

  • May 2, 2009 at 4:04 PM  

    we agree! check out to see what we did at one of these in london.. x

  • May 2, 2009 at 4:38 PM  

    A lot of feminists now just kind of shrug and say its their personal choice to do a pageant or not. :|

  • May 4, 2009 at 1:40 AM  

    I think protesting at pageants is a little bit overboard. None of these women are being forced to compete, it is their choice. Isn't the point of feminism to create a society where all women can choose how to live their lives without the interference of others? I think your protesting at a pageant would be forcing just as narrow views on these women as the ones you are fighting against.

  • May 4, 2009 at 8:56 AM  

    they all look exactly the same. At one point I was like, didn't I see that girl already? I wish there was more diversity in their appearances.

  • May 4, 2009 at 9:06 AM  

    I agree that it's crazy that the pageant paid for Miss Calif's breast implants, which just highlights the physically conformist nature of the pageant.

    But... what vid are *you* watching? There was not a "blatant lack of women of color"--I saw a few black women, and also some women who might have black heritage. I also saw women who may have Asian and Indian heritage, too. I bet there is a Web site with bios of these women where we could discover more.

    I also think that even if we discover that there are more women of color than we thought, it doesn't change the fact that pageants are sick, warp women's priorities, and negatively affect men's perception of women. Even if the skin tone varies, the body type doesn't. I just wouldn't go so far as to say that these are "cookie-cutter" women.

  • May 4, 2009 at 10:47 AM  

    See, I don't think it really is their choice. I think a lot of these women are pressured by their families, their friends, and society, of course, to "take advantage" of their good looks. If we were to protest these pageants, as the second wave feminists did, we wouldn't be protesting the women who are competing - we would be objecting to our society's entrapment of all women by forcing these beauty standards on them.

    Heather, I saw some women of color in the beginning, but the last minute or so of the video is an endless array of white women. Additionally, nearly all the women of color ended up getting cut from the pageant - the final 10 was nearly all made up of white contestants.