Friday, April 24, 2009

Miss America: An Epic Journey into the Unknown

So, I'm quite sure that you all have heard of this Miss California gay marriage thing that has been popping up everywhere as of late. And while I certainly do have a lot to say regarding gay marriage, right now there is only one thing on my mind:

Why the hell do beauty pageants still exist?!

Proponents of such moronic cattle calls really seem to rally under one point: that it gives scholarship money to young girls who would otherwise have no chance! OMG!

Apparently, these women are so spectacular that they can find the time to promote a platform of charity, be a part of a half dozen school organizations, hold down a job, and don't forget workin' the stairmaster for tight buns, keeping your hair nice for the boys, and having a big, fat, laser white smile and fake tan, but not so spectacular that they can't find other ways of paying for their education. More academic and meaninful ways. Right.

Just for shits and giggles, can we take a look at some of the contestants?

Nope! Doesn't look like they're trying to fit an idealized stereotype at all! Well thank goodness for that.

Anyway, being an extra special nerdy-type that I am, I decided to do a little research and see what, exactly, it takes to be Miss America. After all, for a place that advertises itself as being 'one of the nation's leading achievement programs and the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women' you know that they are going to be all inclusive, right? Wrong. Check it out:

A Contestant Must:
  1. Be between the ages of 17-24 years of age. Must be a High School senior or graduate and no older than twenty-four (24) years of age on December 31, 2009 (for Miss Missouri 2009 / Miss America 2010.)
  2. Must reside in; be enrolled and attending classes on a full-time basis at an accredited college or university in; or be employed on a full-time basis for six months in the state in which the young woman plans to compete.
  3. Must be a citizen of the United States of America at the time she enters her first pageant.
  4. Additional Requirements:
  • Must have never been married.
  • Must have never been pregnant.
  • Must not be the adoptive parent of any child.
  • Must never have been convicted of any criminal offense.
  • Must not have criminal charges presently pending.
  • Must be in good health and can participate fully and without limitations in any Program activities.
  • Must not use or consume any illegal controlled substances or abuse the use of alcohol or other dangerous substances.
* See contestant contract for additional requirements.

Apparently you can be Miss America, but only if you fit the bill of a stereotypically 'good' young woman. Forget it if you've ever been preganant or are turning your life around after a substance abuse problem, sucks to be you! And apparently there are more requirements in the contest contract...who knows what they are. And what if you have taken custody of a younger sibling?

Ok, so, maybe the requirements aren't as outrageous or as far fetched as we'd all like to think. I mean, asking young women to conform to these ideals is small potatoes, right? Like, who doesn't, like, have, like, this perfect idealized existence? OMG! So let's say that your springy young non-pregger and non-substance abuse loving body makes it into this pageant. What kinds of things do you have to do to prove that you are fit to represent the "not-for-profit organization (also known as the Miss America Pageant, LOLZ) that has maintained a tradition for many decades of empowering young women to achieve their personal and professional goals, while providing a forum in which to express their opinions, talent and intelligence."

Phases of Competition:

1) Interview a.k.a 'Presentation and Community Achievement'

Alright, I see what they're doing here, they're seeing what these girls are all about. I can agree with there being some sort of interview to see if these girls got what it takes and are the upstanding, active, and intelligent people that they are said to be. Right on.

2) Talent a.k.a 'Artistic Expression'

Ok, so this is where the judges start to lose me a little. A talent portion? What for? Who cares if these girls can sing or tap dance? Isn't it about what's inside that counts? Actions speak louder than words? Plus, any kind of talent competition that only allows 'absolutely functional' props and bans talents 'involving safety hazards, such as fire batons, sword and/or knife twirling, bow and arrow skills' sounds really boring, anyhow.

3) Swim Suit a.k.a 'Lifestyle and Fitness'

Yeah...what? What the hell does my worth and integrity as a woman have to do with how well I look in a damned swimsuit? Does Sean Hannity have to look good in a swim suit to do his job well? How about Obama? Yeah, didn't think so. This is starting to be sexist, sexist shit.

4) Evening Wear a.k.a. 'Presence and Poise'

Once, again, what the HELL does looking good in evening wear have to do with empowering women?! How about asking them about public affairs? Relevant and controversial issues?

5) On Stage Question a.k.a. 'Knowledge and Understanding'

Well, ok, looks like the pageant people are attempting to be less superficial with this part. The questions are usually about a social issue-like binge drinking, so at least we're getting somewhere, here, but here's the thing: contestants are answering not for themselves but pandering to the judges to win. Straightforward and honest opintions will be hard to come by.

Well, there you have it. The Miss America Pageant in a nutshell. I can understand that these people are trying to give opportunities to young women...but there are much better ways to do so. What good can come from a place where one's personal worth is mostly based upon their outward appearance?

In a less eloquent way-fuck pageants.


Anonymous said...

Hells yeah. Fuck 'em.

Rarus vir said...

Without reading the entire (justified) rant, I can tell you why. Men, thats why. Men try so despirately hard to understand women, and fail miserably, which explains why they raise such wrecked daughters who later become women, or something resembling women.