Pageant World

beauty pageant

I had the privilege to support my sister in an endeavor that she chose. It put her out of her comfort zone. She learned so many things about herself along the way. 

What I observed in the pageant world was an education. I have not been exposed to such before now other than a high school beauty pageant. 

My limited understanding of the pageants has lead me to ask questions and do a little research. I am doing this without prejudice or as much as possible preconceived ideas. I admit I grew up watching pageants on television and whatever opinion I formed was that of a young girl watching beautiful women strut across the stage in their gorgeous gowns. 

As I matured those pageants didn’t interest me. I felt a disconnect from the contestants and I began to have questions about how these women were judged. That’s not being critical  just my personal view. 

So when my sister asked me what I thought about this journey of hers I found myself back to those questions from long ago. 

I know my sister. She is dynamic, strong, extremely good with people and if someone in the room has a need, she’s on it before you can blink.  Passion and energy are her strengths and as she put it, also her weakness. 

Needless to say, she gets 100% of my support because I know her character, motivation, and I know her why. This woman knows how to love people and get sh-t done. 

At the pageant I met former contestants and current. I met former winners young and old. I like the “idea” of what the pageant wants to do for women but the execution,  double messages, sprinkled with a bit of hypocrisy I found interesting. 

From my understanding the idea of pageants, at least what I heard spoken, is to empower women, to celebrate women. The reality from what I witnessed was disgraceful. I personally felt that it set women back 100 years. Aside from not empowering women, I was surprised at the lack of care for the contestants. 

Don’t get me wrong, these are educated, strong women but as I watch things unfold and carefully watch the contestants I felt myself wondering if some of these women 

were allowing the REAL THEM to shine.     

 Is it the way the pageants are run that puts these women in the frame of mind that they have to use “strategies” that they would not consider in normal circumstances? 

Do we still live in a world where people feel judged for their makeup, hair, wardrobe choice and  how well they pasted on smiles? 

What about heart and soul matters? What about why they get up in the morning? What about how they take care of themselves physically, mentally, nutritionally, spiritually? How do they treat others? How do they want to change the world? 

What I think, and again, I am only giving my perspective is that a participant is only allowed to “shine” or be their authentic self  as long as it fits within the narrow framework that the establishment  has set. So, are you trying to empower women as long as it fits within your framework? 

The gowns are beautiful. I think every woman that wants to dress up should if that makes them feel good. 

I have no problem with makeup. I use it. It’s fun or can be. It certainly doesn’t define the natural beauty of a woman. My understanding is it is to enhance not least in theory. 

No bathing suit in this competition. I will not address that in this article.

The talent portion is fun. It’s entertaining. We have some talented people in this world!  

Platform: Plan of action, principles, tenets, objectives. 

Most of the contestants have a platform. It should be a passion or a cause that burns within the individual.

They fundraise and do community service activities. I think this can be a great thing. 

In this  instance, these ladies brought in money or “sponsorships”. This is not a new concept.  

So I guess my point here is this can be ANY platform and certainly not limited to pageants. It could be body building. This is not an article to criticize “beauty” competitions. And there are politics in all of these sorts of things. 

What I do know:

People want to feel validated in general. People want love and acceptance and belonging. I understand putting yourself out there to work on self. I did it with martial arts and I think taking risks and putting yourself out there are important for growth.  

I do not believe that the women I saw this past weekend felt as though they could be authentically themselves. They seemed guarded, nervous, and uptight.

As I observed, I saw some women get hurt. I saw the organization not taking care of the contestants. For instance, we live in the age of information, right? We know that healthy eating is important no matter your age. We know that hydration is important. I witnessed first hand the neglect of healthy food during the competition weekend and the contestants left with NO water during rehearsal. I’m sure the cupcakes, brownies and other sugar laden treats should more than make up for that though, right?  

Yes, you detected sarcasm in the sentence above but I am a Certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach so perhaps I’m biased. I’ll let you decide. 

From the moment I arrived, not only were the previous “queens” and hostesses self absorbed, they were disrespectful to the contestants. I don’t believe these women are malicious or have ill intent. Nevertheless, this is what I witnessed. 

I wanted to feed the contestants healthy food, bring them water and hug them and tell them to give themselves permission to be authentic. I may have encouraged that with a few of them.

They were putting themselves out there. Doing that can make person feel raw and vulnerable. They deserved (and I generally do not like the word deserve) but these women deserved the respect of the organizers.  You can hate on pageants but these women put so much effort into the competition.   In no way were these ladies given the respect and care they should have been given.

I think the overall message here is the opinion of others does not determine your self worth. Don’t let someone’s opinion of you determine your value. 

I hope the hurt hearts heal. I hope we as people can look past petty, superficial standards and look deeper into ourselves and others to see the beauty within. Peace and Love. 

Denise Graef