At this time in history, women are doing amazing things. At the college level, women continue to outnumber men, at 56% of enrollment. In the business world, women hold 5% of the Fortune 500 CEO positions which is a number that continues to grow. And in Congress, women hold 99 or 18.5% of the seats with 79 women in the House of Representatives and 20 women in the Senate.
And yet, just last week a televised program aired that judges women based almost solely on their looks.
I’ll admit that I used to watch the Miss America and Miss USA pageants because I liked seeing the dresses and watching the interview questions. But how is it, that in this day and age where women are making leaps and bounds in society, we still have this type of National competition? For the ladies competing, 20% of their score is based on them parading down the runway in evening wear and another 20% is made up of the swimsuit portion. The time of the evening when women are asked to put on similar versions of the same swimsuit, walk the runway in heels and then stand next to each other while their bodies are judged by a group of men and women. When you break it down like that, the whole idea feels a little crazy and a lot archaic.
If you read my last Real Talk post, you know I discussed the great female-empowerment type of commercials that have been going around and yet, they are the direct opposite of these beauty pageants. Let’s face it, most women critique and criticize their bodies on a daily basis and if you decide to go into pageants, you have the unique “opportunity” of standing in front of a group of judges and letting them do that for you. There is just something so wrong with this! It also doesn’t help that the contestants all look very similar with what the media says is the ideal body type right now. And yet in pageantry, they get away with this by calling it “lifestyle and fitness”. This purports the idea that this specific body type is the only way a woman would look if she cares about her body and yet, there are so many women out there who eat healthy and exercise regularly but don’t look like the ladies walking the runway.
I think that one of the reasons that Miss America has made its way into the 21st century is by saying that they are the largest scholarship organization for women. There is a great video now circulating from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver‘s examination of the scholarship portion of the Miss America pageant that you can watch below. I won’t recap it all but I will point out two things that stood out to me. First, the Miss America pageant claims that it gives out $45 million in scholarships to women annually. This is a huge number and John Oliver’s team investigated it and found that in 2012, at the National level, Miss America only gave $482,000 in scholarships! If you start to include regional scholarships, the most they could come up with was $4 million in scholarships! The video below explains the disparity in the numbers but it’s really quite shocking.
And it gets worse. Although that number is grossly misrepresented, Miss America really is the largest scholarship provider to women. Apparently the other female-only based scholarships don’t even come close! And that just makes me sad. Sad that we live in a world where the “best” way to get a women’s scholarship, is to be judged on your appearance! Women have come such a long way since the Miss America pageant was started in 1921 and yet we still have televised programs where we compare women. It just feels like pageants and the like are setting women back and ignoring our brains and focusing on our bodies. Let’s change that. Let’s show the world the positive influence that women can have on every facet of society and that we have so much more to offer then just a pretty face.
-What are your thoughts on beauty pageants?