In December 2015, host Steve Harvey infamously declared the wrong winner at the Miss Universe pageant. Lot\s of articles were written about the gaffe but Jessica Valenti, writing for The Guardian, took a different angle: why do beauty pageants still exist? The article, Beauty pageants are embarrassing – even if you name the right winner, called events like Miss Universe “nothing more than an opportunity to ogle gorgeous, scantily-clad women and pit them against each other.”
Valenti made a very good point in the introduction of her article: “The most awkward moment of the Miss Universe pageant this week wasn’t host Steve Harvey naming the wrong winner on live television – it’s that in 2015, a pageant still exist that parades women around in bikinis for the honor of winning a sash and tiara. That’s the true embarrassment.”
As we are starting a new year, there’s no sign of beauty pageants ever going away which prompts us to reflect on whether there really is an advantage or disadvantage to staging these kinds of events.
List of Advantages of Beauty Pageants
1. Beauty pageants are held for a cause.
Miss America claims to be “the world’s largest provider of scholarships for women.” However, in an episode of his Last Week Tonight, John Oliver delivered a brutal takedown of the pageant. The British host and his team looked deep into the claims of the organization’s offering of $45 million in scholarships each year. The result? The figure was widely exaggerated. Oliver then went on to list a number of women’s scholarship funds that don’t require their candidates to strut around in a bikini on national television.
Miss Earth is a pageant that “aims to increase the awareness levels and knowledge on current and environmental issues and what actions can be done by power of broadcasting and other media campaigns locally, nationally and globally.” On the other hand, Miss International expects contestants to serve as “Ambassadors of Peace and Beauty” and aims to promote world peace, goodwill and understanding.
While those who defend beauty pageants may see it as a good thing, those who are against such events ask: “Is it really necessary to parade women around for a cause?”
2. Beauty pageants may bring a nation together.
Citizens all over the world love supporting their own, be it in sports or entertainment. Events like the World Cup draw fans from all over the world to one place just to support their beloved team. And almost the same thing can be said about beauty pageants. Whether watching the event live or on television, it’s clear that some people do love supporting their own.
List of Disadvantages of Beauty Pageants
1. Contestants spend a lot of money for a chance at the crown.
Women have to pay for dress, makeup and hair and all the money spent on these things just go away when they don’t make it anywhere near the Top 20. What good came out of all that money spent? It’s crazy to be spending that much money when some contestants just get about five seconds of airtime.
2. Beauty pageants objectify women.
We clearly haven’t done much as a human race when even in the 21st century we still continue to treat women as objects despite numerous calls for it to not be the case.
Crystal Lombardo has been a staff writer for Future of Working for five years. She is a proud veteran and mother. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our editor-in-chief a message here.