Miss America Pageant

*This is a submission piece written by ZULA reader Cassandra Chia.

On 5 June 2018, Gretchen Carlson, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Miss America Organization, announced the Miss America pageant would “no longer be judged on outward physical appearance”.

In place of evening gowns, contestants are encouraged to “wear whatever makes them feel confident”. And the swimsuit segment would be replaced with an “onstage interactive session” with the judges to discuss the contestants’ “social impact initiatives.”

Calling for a diverse representation of women and the creation of more opportunities for average looking girls and overweight girls is not a bad thing. But I argue that making more room for ‘flawed’ girls should not be at the expense of conventionally beautiful women.

What removing the swimsuit segment says

Women with the top-notch combination of beauty (good looks), brains (intelligence), brawn (healthy and toned physique which takes dedication, time, and effort to maintain) and a heart of gold (good morals with a passion for a social cause) are beautiful gems.

But instead of letting them shine through with their holistic qualities, let’s rather search for common contestants who may only embody some of these qualities.

By removing the segments, they’re saying, “Let’s disappoint gorgeous girls who have it all”. That these ideal women do not deserve a platform because they are too “beautiful” and “of too high a calibre”. They are not real women, simply because they have the perfect combination of both outer and inner beauty.

Why not presenting ‘perfect women’ disempowers other women

This is the start of the disempowerment of women. When you let these women’s God-given beauty take a backseat, while you gladly warm up the seat for mediocrity.

We should not bring down the best to strengthen the average. What we can do is to lift both average and supermodel-flawless women up to maximize their respectively potential through equal opportunities.

Just like the revamp of the evening gown competition to let women don an outfit of their personal style, why not let girls choose what kind of swimwear they are comfortable with to wear?

Or change the swimsuit segment to a beachwear theme so girls who prefer to cover certain body parts can participate too. All these adjustments will balance inclusivity and diversity, instead of just removing the whole swimsuit segment.

First, there was the removal of F1 grid girls because it’s “at odds with modern-day societal norms”. Now, there’s the revamp of a classic beauty pageant into a competition where one’s outer beauty is not going to be evaluated.

What next then? Shaming men for putting up posters of women in bikinis in their bedroom? Banning of adult magazines and porn?

Defining Beauty

Some girls have it all, while some girls are more flawed. Some girls have more leverage, while some girls are just plain average.

Not all girls are exceptional; most are just normal. And if everyone is really special then that makes no one special.

I choose equal opportunities over an equal outcome. I choose pre-eminence over political correctness. I choose Beauty over Mediocrity.

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Cover image: Source