12 June, 2018

Miss America to Compete in Burkas

(I'm extremely pleased that somebody has actually written an article along these lines).

In another move to anesthetize (in the sense of an-aestheticism, not anesthesia) modern society, the swimsuit competition is being removed from the Miss America pageant. I read a blurb in Time magazine about this by an author (a former Miss America pageant winner) who appropriately questions the point of aesthetics in the role of Miss America as an ambassador to the world, and a social justice warrior. But why is being physically attractive a detriment to this position? If you're interviewing hirees for a job, and two people are equally qualified, is it wrong to pick the one who, in addition, is also easy on the eyes? Unless you think it'll be a distraction - but that gets into dangerous victim-blaming territory.

Why shouldn't America's female ambassador to the world also be physically attractive? Why are we awarding ambassadorial positions via pageants in the first place? What is the purpose of the Miss America pageant, anyway? Why has the "what would you do to change the world for the better?" speech become more important than the swimsuit competition? There's no reason why that has to be the case.

I'm not against the Miss America pageant - I'm against pretending it's anything other than a pageant. Why does it have to be Miss America anyway? Isn't the whole thing kind of antiquated from a gender studies perspective? Why not just get rid of or revamp the whole thing, rather than twisting its very meaning around in such a way as to send the message that beauty is irrelevant in this world? I know an excessive obsession with it is dangerous, and this disproportionately affects females, but the solution is not ignorantly pretending that humans are blind.

There doesn't have to be a swimsuit competition in the Miss America pageant, necessarily, but I want to live in a world where there are still swimsuit competitions. For fun. I honestly think it's only a matter of time before The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is discontinued in order to appease feminist factions who complain that it is demeaning to women.

Look, this doesn't have to be a gendered issue. I think men and women both should be judged for their appearance and sex appeal when wearing swimsuits (among other things). And I'll be the first one to sign up as a contestant (call me). I also think this value should be kept in check - and that people should understand its limitations. Being beautiful isn't that important. But it's something. And it affects people. And that's not only okay, it's worthwhile. And we shouldn't lose sight of that. Nor should we get rid of it because not everybody can be equally beautiful, and that makes some people uncomfortable.

God, it's times like these that I feel like I can relate to conservatives.

Here's a counter-argument by another Miss America pageant winner:

"I like looking at pretty girls, and I believe pretty girls can be smart, talented and relevant."


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