“Miss Universe” hurts the misses of the universe

Kathleen Isenegger, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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Sunday Jan. 25 Paulina Vega was crowned Miss Universe in the 63rd annual pageant. As winner, Miss Colombia will receive an undisclosed salary, a luxury apartment in New York, a wardrobe, a plethora of beauty products, and a one year scholarship from the New York Film Academy. This 22 year old business administration student has been self declared to represent the women of today, but due to to the problematic nature of beauty pageants, I completely disagree.

There is no doubt in my mind that Miss. Vega has worked exceptionally hard in order to be victorious in this competition. She surely deserves to reap the rewards of her labor. Furthermore, she is obviously free to do as she pleases, and I have no problem with her or any other woman participating in a beauty pageant.

It’s the concept of beauty pageants I see as destructive. The woman who is best able to contort her body to fit the conventional standards of beauty is deemed the most remarkable. Why is this a way in which we encourage women to achieve a higher social standing? This is a path of harmful behaviors and in no way beneficial to the women involved.

Supporters may say that these pageants have evolved and incorporate all qualities of the modern woman. “A woman that not only cares about being beautiful and being glamorous, but also cares about being a professional, intelligent, hard-working person,” Vega said during the competition. In theory, this sounds outstanding, an event to celebrate all the incredible things about unique women. In practice however, Miss Universe is a mess of sexism that devalues the magnificent women involved.

By defining beauty to a very specific margin in which the majority of women do not fit, Miss Universe damages our society greatly. I believe the fact that a competition meant to judge the success of a woman is owned by a man is a huge red flag. Donald Trump is given the power to decided what determines the value of a woman, and in turn pageant participants do everything in their power to please him. This flagrant act of sexism in which a man is in control of the lives of women, is the basis that makes beauty pageants as they are today completely revolting.

One obvious way beauty pageants are detrimental to women is the ingraining of plastic surgery and other body modifications as social norms. In 2013, Miss Venezuela disturbingly admitted to having mesh sewn to her tongue so she would be unable to eat solid foods. Other Venezuelan beauty pageant participants are pressured to to get nose jobs at the young age of 12, and breast implants when only 16. Globally some parents inject their 8 or 9 year old daughters with hormones to delay puberty and make them grow taller. It disgusts me that people are willing to put themselves or their daughters through this kind of torture all in the name of conforming in a patriarchal society. Cleary Miss Universe does not have a problem with these nauseating acts, as contestants are not required to disclose any anatomical alterations.

The effects of this negative societal impact can be seen in a typical girl’s life. Shows such as “Toddlers and Tiaras” reinforce the fact that beauty pageants teach girls a destructive mentality, as these children think being “beautiful” is the most important thing in their lives. When these impossible standards of beauty are glorified by society, the average girl who falls short can experience low self esteem and poor body image. Underrepresented groups, such as disabled women, are told by society that it is impossible for them to be beautiful. All around me I see women and girls suffering from this message, and beauty pageants only perpetuate this pain.

The overall result of Miss Universe and any beauty pageant like it, is the few winners rewarded for being the way men think they should be, while all other women are thought of us as lesser. If beauty pageants were really meant to benefit women they would be created by women, for women. These pageants would encourage only positive behavior and judge women on how they choose to reach the potential of their natural beauty and intelligence in their own unique way. They would not be meant to benefit or please men, only to further the well-being of womankind.

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