So by now I guess we’ve all seen Janina San Miguel’s epic soliloquy on the important persons in her life during the recent Binibining Pilipinas 2008, a monologue that was only slightly more impressive in its scope and daring than Miss South Carolina’s treatise on geography last year. I actually have a bit of a rant regarding beauty pageants that I’ve been nursing quietly now for years, and this seems like just the right week to whip it out.
Now before I embark on my own epic soliloquy, I want to first address the feminist argument that beauty pageants should be abolished because they are degrading. I personally find that rather ridiculous, as beauty pageants are no more demeaning towards women than Jeopardy is demeaning towards smart people. Or hotdog-eating contests, towards guys that like a little sausage. I think that it’s important that we celebrate the things that are outstanding and exceptional in this world, and by golly, if we can have World Rock-Paper-Scissors championships, then a competition that judges female beauty is a no-brainer. (Haha, sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)
The problem is not that there are beauty pageants, the problem is in the rules. I find it frustrating that there are interview portions at all during these contests, because a contestant’s brains should have no effect on her overall “beauty” score. No Jeopardy player has ever lost because of his/her looks, because obviously, in a contest of wits, appearances are irrelevant. Strange that it doesn’t work the other way around.
Now, some people like to argue that beauty extends beyond just looks, all the way into the mind and soul of a given contestant. That’s all well and good, but if you want to accurately measure a girl’s mind, I think you need to base it on a little bit more than a single 60-second response, you know? Instead of having a single evening’s pageant, you need to have a week-long marathon with IQ tests and moral/ethical dilemmas mixed in with the bikini segments and talent portions. (That’s not a particularly bad idea either; get Mark Burnett on board and you’ve got yourself a real concept.)
I know that sounds like I’m being facetious, but I’m trying to make a point. Why do we even pretend that it matters whether a contestant is smart or not, when no beauty pageant has ever crowned a smarter girl over a prettier one? I personally think it’s this half-assed approach that makes beauty contests feel so farcical. The pageant industry’s desire to satiate critics by adding these silly question-and-answer portions has had the rather more negative effect of highlighting the fact that some of these contestants are real dullards. And it’s a shame because ultimately, they would have won regardless.