Wed | Dec 8, 2021

The ugly side of beauty pageants

Published:Monday | August 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Krystal Tomlinson lights up the catwalk at the Miss Jamaica World pageant.

I ACTUALLY don't have a big problem with beauty pageants. Some bemoan the fact that they objectify women and put them to go up against each other solely on superficial, external attributes.

Healthy competition, I think, is great. And in the same way that we encourage battle in sporting prowess and have dime-a-dozen talent competitions, why not reward those who are favoured with good looks?

Now, whether or not the swimsuit section should be included is another discussion, but for all intents and purposes, I say there's no difficulty in telling a girl she is the fairest in the land if she really is.

That said, I think beauty pageants and pageants watchers have become disingenuous. Expecting more out of what, innately, is a competition based on good looks is a recipe for an ugly outcome. Why make a beauty pageant what it is not?

When Usain runs fast, that's the only criterion. When Gayle bats, that's all we judge. No one says to the scholar, "If you're bright but have a nasty attitude, you can't get an A." All you need to do is get the highest mark to be ranked first.

So why muddy the waters with the models? Beauty pageants today seem to be making excuses for themselves and are integrating these additional elements to appease the critics. And it's getting them into trouble.

These additional mental components obviously are not weighted as heavily as the beauty components. As a result, things like what transpired on Saturday night can occur - where a bright Krystal Tomlinson can walk away with three sectional prizes and still not be able to earn a spot in the top five.

If the 'brains' were honestly as important in a beauty pageant, the fast-track events would not all so heavily be skewed to what's on the outside. Beauty With a Purpose is the only one that considers a non-physical trait, and it looks at heart, not brain. The others are purely physical: Beach Beauty, Talent, Sports and Model.




But this isn't Mensa. It's a beauty pageant. It's a wear-a-swimsuit, show-me-your-legs, and smile-bright kind of competition. And that's OK.

If you're a beauty pageant, be a beauty pageant. Don't apologise for it. Don't sell people the myth that you expect Miss World to be the catalyst for change. It's grossly unfair to expect the pretty girl parading in the swimsuit to inspire or engineer world peace. Stick to your core competencies. Be true to who you really are and call a pretty spade a pretty spade.

Pageant organisers, here are some recommended sectional prizes that won't get you in a pickle.

- Best Face Without Make-up

- Most Skilful High Heel Wearer

- Tallest

- Most Symmetrical

- Most Ladylike

- 'Out of Many, One People' - for the person who is mixed with the most races. Now THAT is a Miss World!

The question-and-answer segment people accept because it filters out those who must only 'smile and nod' from those who you can take out in public and allow to speak without fear of shame. No issues. Oftentimes, success in the interview is only a reflection of a great memory, and that, too, has it merits. But it's certainly not enough to assess 'bright'.

Any attempt to focus on anything but beauty is asking for trouble. We already have a competition that puts brains first. It's called Festival Queen; and incidentally, Krystal won that in 2013.

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to and, or tweet @findpatria.