Last Updated 26 Jan 2021

Beauty Contests Are Harmful

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The old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In other words, someone or something that is considered attractive to one person may not necessarily appeal to another. If we lived in a perfect world, maybe everyone would follow the wise words of this old saying and admit that evaluating beauty is a subjective practice. However society that does exist feels some strong compulsion to turn every aspect of people’s lives into a competition. In my opinion, the prize of Beauty Queen in one competition society could live without.

Beauty contests are an unnecessary element in society simply because they set unrealistic beauty standards for an audience of easily influenced young girls, they encourage judging on appearance, rather than on a person's character, and mainly because they objectify women. Beauty contests are well promoted by the media, with television and images, which influence young women’s opinions on appearance. The participants of these contests are poor role models for these girls as they set impractical body weight, breast size and clear skin standards. This sets an ideal female body, which only a minority of women can realistically aspire.

This adds pressure on all women to conform which can then become incredibly harmful to young women by encouraging dieting, eating disorders and cosmetic surgery, or simply making them feel inadequate and ugly. An article, titled “Thoughts about Miss Teen USA,” out of a local American magazine was written by a young teen in 2005, who had just watched ‘Miss Teen’ on NBC. Her recap of the contest was; “White teeth. White teeth. Prom-style dress. Blonde. White teeth. Blonde. Chandelier earings. Tan. Blonde. Tan. Strapless gown. ” Followed by “That’s all you need to know”

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This certainly does not promote the contest in fact quite the contrary. The statement made by this young teen is not one that is from a minority. She is one of thousands that view this as the “norm” for a woman of beauty. It is not healthy for a young teen to think there is one type of beauty or one type of accepted body. It is harmful and could lead to both physical and emotional damage. Secondly, beauty contests further the belief that looks are superior to a person’s abilities, feelings and heart. These women are judged solely on the bases of physical appearance.

The existence of talent just does not work simply because an “ugly” person just won’t win! Judging women but not men, primarily on their looks contributes to the subjugation of women because other qualities, such as intelligence, are not seen as part of ideal femininity and therefore not as things to which women should aspire. Miss USA 2002 went to a tall blonde ditzy Ohio woman, who was won over by the crowd when she made her statement that education was important and that you can tell if someone has an education by looking at them. The irony in the statement being that beauty contests are not shallow and are not just based appearance.

Beauty being seen as a high priority to men and women all over the world is harmful because it discourages women to be different and to show women are not “just a pretty face. ” Lastly, beauty contests strongly promote the negative aspect that women are seen as objects of sexual interest. These contests fail to challenge harmful political attitudes to women. They do nothing to aid the liberation of women, in fact by promoting looks as the most important feminine quality, they harm women’s liberation in general. On the 17th of February the Campus National Organisation for Women protested the Miss UF Beauty Pageant.

They handed out 300 protest flyers which stated their disgust with Florida Blue Key and the University of Florida for holding a sexist pageant where women must be inspected in swimsuits and parade around in evening gowns in order to be awarded scholarship money. This shows how beauty contests encourage women to see themselves as an object (like a car) to be judged by men. Beauty contests hurt women by treating them as objects held up to a strict standard of "beauty," a standard that is painful, time-consuming, and expensive for women to try to achieve.

In a high percentage of Hollywood films, even those in which the woman should be portrayed as a strong willed, independent heroine, usually feature women being played off solely as sex objects. Though there is nothing wrong with a woman being classified as “sexy” it should not be the entire package. One made of uniqueness, intelligence and charm is what should be promoted. Movies such as; Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Charlies Angels, send the same message to the young men and woman, that beauty contests do, which is that only one kind of women’s body is acceptable.

This is harmful to a majority of women as beauty contests are encouraging men to treat them as an object rather than woman with opinions and uniqueness. Beauty contests are an unnecessary element in society because they set unrealistic beauty standards for an audience. There are contests out there, which attempt to create a judgment of well-balanced people. These sorts of competitions are trying to promote the intelligence mixed with beauty side, which should be heavily commended. However, contests in which beauty is emphasised as a solitary basis for winning, like beauty contests, are dangerous and harmful to society.

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