Beauty Pageants
By: Catherine Ward, Caitlin Bradford, Nicole Barnes
Are beauty pageants exploitive? 


Since the roaring 1920's, women have taken part in beauty pageants throughout the nation. Since then, this phenomenon has expanded 4198.jpgglobally, growing to three billion viewers in 115 countries worldwide[1] . The types and categories of beauty pageants varies with gender and age. For example, the current television show Toddlers and Tiaras reveals the world of childrens' pageants[2] . There is Miss World, Miss Earth, Miss Universe, Mr. World; to be more specific, there is Miss USA, and the pageant winners of each state; there's the Junior Miss Pageant... the list continues. The contestants of the pageants are judged primarily on the three components of the competition: appearance, talent, and charisma. The special girl with the highest quality of all three gets the crown... and some (generous) pecuniary compensation.


Advocates of beauty pageants claim these competitions as healthy self esteem boosters[3] for women's overall sense of beauty and accomplishment. Because it is a worldwide competition, this is also a chance for smaller countries to display their national pride via the cultural pizzazz of their revered nominees. Beauty pageants promote benevolence and unity by allowing the winner to choose a charity to 94026111.jpgpromote during and after the competition.For those who might have never had the chance to be recognized in society, these competitions give undiscovered women the chance to be seen and revered for their talent [4] . Before the pageant occurs, the nominees work through a training process [5] to become fit enough to enter the competition. This process is claimed to boost the self-confidence, improve the physical state, and overall increase the well being and attitudes of the contestants [6] . This healthy competition is viewed as a benevolent experience for the girls participating; their motivation and drive to achieve victory energizes them for a successful life ahead in the real world.

While the glitz and glamour of beauty pageants are promoted by the general media, there are also those who demote it because of its "demeaning" nature to women. Opponents of beauty pageants view them as exploitive and demeaning to women. While the competitions may also consist of talent and intelligence components, realistically the nominees are solely judged on their superficial beauty [7] . These pretentious competions are seen as a belittling subjugation of women which results in a disrespectful view of them throughout society. Many times the judges maintain a closed minded image of beauty that they are looking for which is culuturally western [8] and traditional. Although beauty pageants aim to promote confidence and self-empowerment in women, they in-fact eliminate the political respect that women may have. The competitions give off the impression that beauty and outward appearance is the only thing that gives a woman value. On the other hand this can take a toll on the contestants' vulnerable mental state[9] .

Although the worldwide culture of beauty competitions is seen as a great opportunity for women to display themselves and their achievements, it is also viewed as having a dangerously negative affect on the competitors. The phenomenon of beauty pageantry maintains a significant controversial reputation in society, with many pros and cons - but the biggest question still remains- are beauty pageants exploitive when it comes to women and their value in society?
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  4. ^ ibid
  5. ^ ibid
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  8. ^ ibid
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