The Miss Universe competition shows us just how far we haven’t come
Miss Universe has come round again. The swimsuit parade is tomorrow. That’s where the competitors – all conforming to unrealistic body types and the thin ideal – get to parade in a swimsuit just before they tell us their plans for world peace and saving starving brown babies.
Despite the fact that this whole thing is about looks over substance and a narrow standard of female beauty, organisers and participants still claim the competition is about ‘personality and intelligence’.
Miss Universe 2008 Laura Dundovic ran this argument on Channel 7′s Morning Show today (see below for video). I wasn’t exactly what you would call convinced, though I did love how she insisted on this as images of lingerie clad contestants flashed across the screen.
Miss Universe – and other pageants of their kind – promote a thin, hot, sexy body (as judged by prevailing beauty standards) as the only real valued quality of women.
Imagine a contestant who had not gone through a punishing beauty/diet/surgery/makeup/hair regime and didn’t fit the beauty pageant norm. But she has a sparkling and vibrant personality and scored ‘A’ for algebra and science all through her school years. She wouldn’t stand a chance.
Get a load of my personality and intelligence!
If it’s abou t’personality and intelligence’, why couldn’t this be determined with the contestant in a three piece suit and not a barely-there piece of fabric across groin and breasts? Check out the ‘intelligence and personality’ of this past contestant below.
Judging tweens and little girls on their beauty
US-style pageants for teens and children have made their way to Australia unfortunately. Miss Teen Australia also has a swimwear competition. In this section, “marks scored will be based on the Presentation, Cut and Style of the fabric”. So it’s the fabric that is being judged? Then why not just hold it up for the judges to see? Is this an attempt to pretend it’s not really about how a teenage girl’s body looks in a bikini?
Judging women on their beauty has extended to judging even little girls on theirs. We’ve all seen the many scarifying images that show what happens when little girls are seen as mini adult women and forced to conform to an extreme and artificial norm of female attractiveness.
These pageants make it even harder for girls to be valued for qualities other than their physical appearance. Miss Bayside Australia includes a modelling section for children from 0-13.
Have a look at the impact on children in ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’
You can hear my thoughts on the subject on Channel 7’s Morning Show.