The following appeared in my inbox the other day, and being curious (and female) I decided to pay some attention. Of course, it only led to pessimism (and a lovely half-assed rant).
The 16th Annual Miss IUP Pageant is quickly approaching on Saturday, April 2nd, 2005. If you are interested in becoming the next Miss IUP, please join us at the next planning meeting at 8pm on Thursday, February 3rd in the HUB Conemaugh Room."
This looked exciting, even though I knew very well that "Pageant" stands for "Sexual Appeal and Popularity Competition." But surely, they're not all that bad... I shrugged off my preconceptions and dove in.
Date: Tue, 01 Feb 2005 14:36:00 -0500
I have some questions about the Miss IUP Pageant. What exactly are the categories contestants will be judged in, and what preparation do we need?
Also, can you provide some information on past winners? I'd like to know what kind of person you are looking for to become the next Miss IUP.
The reply was prompt:
"The categories that you will be judged on are, Talent, Formal wear, and Aerobic wear, also you will be judged on a 7 min interview on the day of the pageant and a question during the formal wear. There will be meetings and patience's that you will have to attend
We are not looking for a particular person. Anyone that fits the requirements and has the time to put into the practices. If you feel you are a good candidate to be the next Miss IUP then you should defiantly think about it."
So, slightly disheartened and twitchy from trying not to correct a few things in the response (defiantly?! *twitch*) and email it back to her, I went looking for past winners. This was two years ago.
...Yep, that's really gonna be my thing. What would my talent be? I don't do impressions, I don't dance, my singing voice isn't all that great, and I don't think any of the sorority girls would be impressed by my ability to create a simple web page or contemplate the works of Plato using ARQ. Who would?
A few years ago, recruiters for the Miss Teen USA competition sent me information and asked if I would enter. They included bios of the past winners, and requirements for entering. I can't remember them all, but I do remember thinking that they'd never take a girl with glasses any farther than the first level of competition. Yet again, here I am looking at another popularity pageant that claims it's open to anyone, and thinking "well, it closed its doors on me before I even opened my mouth." Look at me, compared to the average beauty queen:
Height, Weight: 5'8", 125 or so.
Cup size: Barely A
Hair: Long, straight.
Talents: Singing (maybe).
Working with children.
Telling the truth
Makeup: Not unless I'm in a play
Would: Stop the war on Iraq
Respect my elders
Apply for citizenship in Mexico
Volunteer work: KidsRead, I love it
Habitat (If I had time!)
Girl Scouts. Because I am one.
Looks good in: Tshirts, jeans, hoodies. Long skirts. Sneakers.
Height/Weight: 5'8", 112 or so.
Cup Size: At least B
Hair: Permed, curled or straightened, dyed/highlighted
Glasses?: No, or she wears contacts.
Talents: Singing (perfectly)
Putting on a mask (and she does drama, too!)
Makeup: Always. And it's perfect.
Would: Save the puppies and kitties
Be "kind" to the elderly
Tell everyone how great the US is
Volunteer work: KidsRead, it makes her look good
Humane Society (Awww, puppies!)
Sorority activities. She's probably in one.
Looks good in: Tight shirts, tight pants, short shorts. Heels.
Formal wear? I don't own any, aside from my old prom dress. Nor do I have the money to go out and look for the perfect $400 dress for a competition like this, plus the bone-crunching high heels of death that would have to come with it. And accessories. Oh, yes. Accessories. She'd probably have a closet full of slinky, sparkly things and still want a new dress, shoes, purse, hair clip, makeup and scarf.
This saddens me. Beauty pageants are not only damaging to girls' self esteem, they're damaging to our common sense. We reward the shallow aspects of someone's personality, the overtones that shade them in rosy hues but hide the emptiness within. We would rather have Barbie than Mother Theresa, unless the latter was a drop-dead gorgeous specimen of human flesh on top of being humble, generous and forgiving.
I may be beautiful in my own way, but it's not the kind of beauty they're looking for. I don't even shave my legs on a regular basis any more. There's not a reason to, except to impress boys with my smooth, "delicate" skin.
There is nothing wrong with the body in its natural form. Humans were given hair on their bodies for a reason, whether it's remnants of fur (hi, evolutionists!) or whether we were given hairy bodies by God (*waves at the Christians*). Either way, there is little sense in removing what little hair we have. I've heard arguments about cleanliness. Well, if you bathe every day you're not going to smell. Unless you're licking yourself like a cat, that is. Hair also serves as another barrier for pathogens. Cilia, anyone? They're tiny hairs. You can't tell me that having hairy legs makes me dirtier than a girl who has smooth legs. That's absurd.
Breasts are an issue, too. People used to make fun of me because I was flat-chested until long after most of my friends had filled their bras. I remember in sixth grade hearing rumors of people stuffing their bras, and thinking how mean it was that the other girls would make fun either way. Damned if you do and damned if you don't, because if you're flat you don't fit with the popular girls and if you stuff a bra you're a poser. Why don't people just get over the fact that smaller breasts are just as beautiful as large ones? In my opinion, smaller is better. You don't see many gymnasts, runners or dancers with a C-cup, do you?
Men seem to have gotten it into their heads these days that the bigger a girl's cup size, the greater she'll be. In bed, in a relationship, or as a friend, coworker, or employee. I have gotten it into my head that the bigger a girl wants her cup size to be, the smaller her IQ tends to be. That's not always true but it fits a good percentage of the population most of the time. =P
The human body is beautiful naturally. I don't see the need to add to that beauty with layers of makeup, attention-grabbing clothing and in some cases, surgery. Accenting it with well-fitting (but not skintight) clothing and keeping yourself in good physical shape aren't bad things, but people take looking "beautiful" to an extreme, and it's one I don't want to go to.
Stephanie says "Enter! Try!" and so maybe I will. The planning meeting is tonight. I'll go take a shower and dress myself nicely, and see what this is all about. Who knows, maybe I'll find out something new about these people, and about myself. Either way, I'll prove that someone other than a beach babe is interested in representing IUP.