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Autor: anton • December 22, 2010 • 2,800 Words (12 Pages) • 625 Views
Walking the Ramps of a Beauty Pageant
Christopher Lowell once said, "Beauty is not skin deepÐ'...." but is it really so with the exposure of today's generation to media's promotion of their own concept of beauty? Turn on the television and see that most commercials, especially those selling beauty products such as Ponds, Skin White, and Gilette for Women, are endorsed by thin, tall, pimple-free, smooth-legged and fair to white-skinned women. Flip pages of fashion magazines, see fashion shows and discover that models are of the same description. The same goes for beauty contestants in a beauty pageant, wherein there are set standards with regard to one's physical attributes before parading oneself onstage. Certainly, one cannot be called a beauty queen without at least being 5 feet and 5 inches, in a Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant ("Become"), and not have her vital statistics broadcasted while modeling in a swimsuit. Although beauty pageants, such as the Miss Universe and the Binibining Pilipinas, as a whole supposedly celebrate beauty and femininity, empower women, and give equal importance to women's intelligence and physical beauty, they actually only highlight a narrow-minded or limited standard of beauty and femininity, reduce women to the status of commodity, and emphasize only on physical beauty.
The purposes, then, of this paper is to show that through beauty pageants, women are made to accept the concept of beauty as only physical, physical beauty is given much emphasis compared to a woman's intelligence and women are being objectified, all of which will be achieved through presentation of the pros and cons of beauty pageants.
Through the Years of Beauty Pageants
Many people have been tuning in to the television broadcasting of beauty pageants both locally and worldwide. Among the prestigious beauty pageants, the Miss Universe is the most watched by children, adolescents, adults, men, and women alike.
In 1952, the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant had its debut in Long Beach California, in which the Philippines was already one of its participants (Romulo 24). Since then, the Philippines has been joining the said pageant every year and is proud to have had the Miss Universe crown twice with the victory of Gloria Diaz in 1969 and Margie Moran in 1973. To qualify to be a representative participant in the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant, one must first win the title of Miss Universe in her own country's local beauty pageant, which in our case, is the Binibining Pilipinas Beauty Pageant.
For over half a century, many people have been fondly watching these pageants with striking awe and admiration for the beauty of women and their bodies. For most males who watch such pageants, they just enjoy the pleasurable sight of beautiful women especially in swimsuits that bare the women's skins. For females, however, some simply watch for the sheer enjoyment they get from it, some watch to genuinely admire and to compare the beauties around the world, and some watch just to satisfy their curiosity who the year's Miss Universe will be.
As one of those avid viewers, through the years of watching beauty pageants, I have grown curious of why the participants have to meet a certain height requirement and why there seems to be no plump women among the candidates. I once dreamed of becoming one of the beauty queens put on a pedestal, but that dream vanished with the realization I could never be one with my height being a hindrance. It made me wonder, "Does one have to be tall and thin in order to be beautiful and be crowned a beauty queen?" Surely, some of those million other people who periodically watch beauty pageants have, at one time or another, ask themselves a similar question. How, then, is the concept of beauty projected and how is femininity celebrated in beauty pageants?
Projection of Women's Beauty and Femininity
Beauty pageants are said to celebrate beauty and femininity as contestants are "to embody the highest ideals of femininity (Veneracion 24)" through chances of showing off commendable communication skills, voicing out women's opinions, visions and ideals, as well as their well-shaped bodies. Viewers admire not only the beauty of these women (Caruncha 12), but also the ability of these women to carry themselves as representatives of their respective regions and country as well as being ambassadors of good will. Women from different locations come together, interact, and act as bridges to unite and form friendships among different nations (Ople 23). With this, women have indeed, as compared to centuries back, become highly regarded today and are given much respect and importance in today's society.
The concept of beauty, though, has evolved as the eras have changed. In the olden times, such as the time of Julius Caesar, beautiful women were perceived to be those who were chubby or healthily plump such as the goddesses and the women who modeled for paintings (Monsalud). Today though, the perception of beauty is nothing like that of the olden times. Rather, it is quite the opposite. Pennie Azarcon-De La Cruz, author of "The Plain, the Pretty, and the Real: Good looks and other variations" from Sunday Inquirer magazine, shares that beautiful women today in beauty pageants are considered to have a 36-24-36 body figure, an almost towering height, smooth skin, long legs, and straight, white teeth. These are standards aren't there before, but now many women are drawn to meet these standards, almost desperately, in order to be called beautiful (4). Who, then, made and set these standards of beauty? In the beauty pageant setting, of course, the organizers are the ones who set such standards. In the real world setting though, it is actually society who has done so and the Philippines, having been colonized for years by Westerners, is one country whose society and culture is greatly influenced by them. Thus, Filipino women adhere to the dictates of the West of what beauty is, which is implied in fashion magazines, commercials, and other forms of media (Chapkis 40). With all these and having the Miss Universe first launched in the United States, our own versions then of such beauty pageants have patterned their standards with the beauty standards of the West (Candor 3-4).
The adherence of our women to such dictates is due to the need to be accepted by others, achieved through "conformity to peer group standards and practices" (Furman 49). Furman further shares that many women, indeed, see themselves as beautiful only when others perceive them so. According to Ms. Jovie Anne H. Monsalud, a psychologist, people conform to such standards and seek acceptance from others because