Friday, May 15, 2015

Beauty Pageants: Parading, showcasing and judging women's bodies is not empowerment

Beautiful and elegant Emily Kachote 
pic credit Chronicle

''Exhibiting women's bodies for commercial purposes is the height of oppression''

One morning I browsed my news feed and it was awash with sad comments about Emily Kachote who had been crowned Miss Zimbabwe earlier on. The remarks in lifestyle and entertainment news articles were sad and unfortunate. Some mischievous and misguided Zimbabweans thought she is ''not beautiful and classy enough''. My reaction to the stories was obvious. I frowned and cursed. Which I rarely do unless I am highly irritated.

Journalists had even quoted self proclaimed social media social commentators. However, I frowned even more at how Emily had come into the limelight. A pageant. Miss Zimbabwe. Now, I don't intend to cause offence or to degrade other peoples businesses but honestly, I am not a fan of beauty pageants. In the interest of neutrality and objectivity I shall not use the ''h'' word.
Beauty pageants, by nature and design, are a sneaky and shambolic way of parading women's bodies and judging them. Thus, the reason why I, and many others, do not like these beauty pageants is because they are simplistic in nature and stereotypical in their judging of women. Beauty pageants perpetuate certain stereotypes about the ideally 'beautiful' woman based on looks and, they say, brains.

''...with media and public gullibility for female stereotypes, these pageants make a killing''

In short, they parade their version of beautiful women's near naked bodies for profit. I have always asked, what is the purpose that beauty pageants are expected to serve?Except for the highly priced event tickets and numerous allegations of exploitation, both sexual and commercial, and draconian conditions imposed on the contestants.
One good example is that contestants are barred from having boyfriends. Which by nature is shocking and disgraceful to bar someone from enjoying their fundamental right to freedom and love. In my strong opinion, love is not luxury or privilege, it is a right. And by imposing such unfair and drastic conditions on contestants, beauty pageants, in my view, are dis-empowering and torturous for girls.
Prominent scholar Takura Zhangazha agreed in harsh words, on my Facebook wall, and I strongly endorse his comment, which I later tweeted,

Legendary, candid and brutally honest talk show host Wendy Williams put it sharply and simply in one of her show episodes, ''I am not a fan of beauty pageants'', Wendy said. Me too Wendy. I despise them. I do not watch them.

I am therefore hoping to see beauty pageants transition into meaningful and decent empowerment initiatives for girls and not lowly, stereotypical showcasing of women's bodies.

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