I spent a considerable amount of time yesterday “researching” all things Miss USA. I’ve never given any of that pageant stuff any thought but a Facebook post led me to Miss Utah’s disgraceful moment in the spotlight and I got hooked. And pissed.
Did y’all see that shit? Here’s the clip.
I tried to compose this post yesterday but for the life of me was so sucked into YouTube clips of past pageants that I ran out of time. I was also unsure exactly which one of the MANY disturbing aspects that I wanted to write about.
Ohmygoodness there are so many…
How about the simple fact that the single, solitary question portion of the competition comes after the women parade around in bikinis and evening gowns? Who says you can’t judge a book by it’s cover?
How about the almost laughable irony that Nene Leakes, former stripper and star of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, asked a question about gender inequality to Miss Utah, a state not known for it’s feminist action. If you haven’t seen the clip I’ll paraphrase the question, “can you speak to income inequality between men and women and what this says about our society?”. I have no judgement about strippers or reality stars but she doesn’t seem the most appropriate woman to speak on this concern. Would either of those careers been possible for her had she been a man? Stripping and housewifing are two of those rare female-dominated fields where woman commonly make more than men, not in spite of being a woman but rather because of their gender. This reminds me of something, what is it…oh yeah, the pageant industry. If you can tell me a field where women are paid more for their ability to do the job rather than exploit their ASSets, I’d love to hear it.
I could go on and on in my unexpected feminist rage (not something I experience often), but since this is an extremely superficial beauty pageant I’d like to focus on my own superficial reaction.
I like being considered attractive just as much as anyone, in fact I really thrive off of it and I think most of us do. Unfortunately I’ve also spent a lot of my life experiencing envy in regards to other women; coveting her skin or hair or weight or clothes or ass or tits or even her friggin feet. I’m pretty sure that’s a common experience, although one that’s a bit embarrassing to admit.
Over the last year or so I’ve been doing a lot of personal work to recognize that “she” doesn’t have anything to do with me. “She”, whichever woman that might be in the moment, and I can both be hot, gorgeous, pretty, sexy. “Her” skinny thighs have nothing to do with my thick, strong, tan ones (I’ve never gotten any complaints about those thighs either).
The amount of beautiful people in this world need not be finite! Nor do they need to be ranked and scrutinized. Pageants like Miss USA promote the idea that only ONE woman in the room is worthy of the crown, based almost entirely on physical attributes. You better believe that there was some intense coveting and envy in that room on Sunday night when 52 women were told that Miss Connecticut’s Erin Brady was obviously way hotter and better than all of them. This type of pageantry of women would lead us to believe that there is a rubric for attractiveness. The truth is that beauty, and I am talking physical, comes in all forms and is absolutely in the eye of the beholder.
The last thing women need, especially American women, are contests literally saying that they are not as worthy, not as noteworthy, because according to a panel of judges they don’t look “as good” in a bikini as the woman next to them.
On the flip-side of this coin, when we stop compartmentalizing and comparing each other as women it becomes easier to get over our own ego, envy, and insecurities. When women compliment each other, acknowledge each others beauty, and allow each other-and ourselves-to shine bright than extraordinary things can happen.
Elise @ Expeditions of Elise
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Miss USA! You’ve said what I’ve wanted to but couldn’t find the words…it’s not the fact that these women are deemed more “hot” or “sexy” than me (and almost all other women) that makes Miss USA pageants annoying. It’s the fact that ANY woman could be deemed the most attractive by being given a crown. We should be celebrating all women for their own unique attributes–even those attributes not usually seen by society as “worthy.” (I am with you on the strong thighs…I, too, have strong, short legs that would never get me into a beauty pageant.) Contests like Miss USA perpetuate the idea that women can be judged against each other just because of how they look, and that if they don’t meet some sort of standard, they are less worthy of society’s time and attention. Men are never judged against each other based on their looks in a serious way, but women are still subject to this kind of judgement even beyond beauty pageants: in the workplace, when they walk down the street and even in middle school. This is a long-winded way of me saying this: if women lift each other up instead of being jealous of what other women look like, the world would be a happier place.
Thanks a lot for your comment, Elise. I must admit, I wrote that post in a hurry last night, just trying to get my thoughts out. I saw this morning how sloppy it was so it has since been proofed and edited a bit, hope you enjoy the revision!
Dave showed me the Miss Utah clip ( we’re from Utah) the other night; and while the whole pageantry issue appalls me, I was disgusted she couldn’t come up w one intelligent response. Come on, here’s your girl power moment. Female equality – really? Nothing? You’ve not rehearsed this type of question? But your points, Faith, remind me: why would these ladies, participating in an exploitative, superficial show of female comparison, be concerned w real issues like male-female equality? Ugh. I love that you wrote about this. I think we will forever struggle not to compare, and “fight” other women for the coveted “top ranking” – due to social influence – but I too have learned this is the only way I come to terms w and appreciate my own beauty and strengths. It’s useless to compare. I’m striving to simply be inspired by strong, beautiful women, like yourself. More useful, and I’m happier.
Allie, yes I find it really ridiculous that they bother with the token “deep” question when it’s really just a beauty pageant.
You provided another wonderful experience of being a parent to such beautiful, bright, thoughtful, self aware, progressive daughters.
I’m not a fan of beauty contests or any contests for that matter. She is very young and seemed to be very nervous. Even at my advanced age I come out with some pretty dumb sounding things.
She definitely seemed nervous and knew she was bombing when she let out that laugh. It’s the equivalent of tripping in the bikini portion except for the irony and implications go so much deeper.
It really is depressing to watch. I sometimes think when I see something like this or see certain reality show figures (ahem-Kim kardashian) what would happen if you were totally stripped of your looks or sex appeal for some reason or another? Like, for instance, you age! God knows we don’t value older women in our culture. Or even a sudden change in physical appearance. What would they have (all of us actually) to fall back on? Just a reminder-you are not your body.
Thanks for the reminder!
Mia (Savor Everyday)
Great write-up, Faith. This issue is so deeply ingrained but we do need to question it, challenge it, reverse it.
The adult beauty pageants are bad enough, but what’s even more appalling to me are the pageants for children. Children who should be growing up exploring, playing, making friends, experimenting, learning, problem solving, etc who instead get subjected to this skewed idea of self-worth. So sad.
Mia (Savor Everyday)
PS: I love what your “papa” said in his comment… 🙂
Me too, sweet feminist man he is. 🙂
“The amount of beautiful people in this world need not be finite!”. This brought a smile to my face and my heart. It’s something that we all forget I think, when bombarded with people in the media we are supposed to look like, dress like, be. I have always felt that imperfections were the most beautiful traits possible, but have lost that a bit over the years. Thank you for the reminder!