Beauty Contests Are Harmful

Last updated: March 9, 2017

Are beauty contests harmful?

Beauty Contests Are Harmful
Yes because...

Beauty contests promote an ideal of female beauty to which only a minority of women can realisticall...

Beauty contests promote an ideal of female beauty to which only a minority of women can realistically aspire, but which adds to the pressure on all women to conform to it. This can be harmful to women by encouraging dieting, eating disorders and cosmetic surgery, or simply by making them feel inadequate and ugly.
No because...
People enjoy beauty contests. Many women enjoy entering them. Many people enjoy watching them. Nobody is forced to do either. The beauty of a fit, healthy, well-proportioned human form is something from which we can all take pleasure, and beauty contests, along with other forms of art, are vehicles which enable us to do so.

Beauty Contests Are Harmful
Yes because...

Women in beauty contests are judged on their physical appearance rather than on any other qualities ...

Women in beauty contests are judged on their physical appearance rather than on any other qualities they may possess (the existence of a ‘talent’ element in many such contests is all very well, but ugly women simply aren’t going to win). Judging women, but not men, primarily on their looks contributes to the subjugation of women because other qualities, such as intelligence, are not seen as part of ideal femininity and therefore not as things to which women should aspire. Ideal masculinity, while in itself potentially damaging to men, tends to be construed in much wider and less restrictive terms - it is notable that male beauty contests, judging men on their physical appearance, are much less popular than female ones.
No because...
There is nothing wrong with judging people primarily on their physical prowess - we do this all the time in competitive sport, where fitness and strength are major determinants of success. Every competition, of every kind, values certain qualities over others - we recognise that being able to lift heavy weights isn’t the prime definition of human worth, but we can still give prizes for weightlifting; similarly, we can give a prize to a beautiful woman for her beauty without implying that beauty is all that matters about anyone.

Beauty Contests Are Harmful
Yes because...

The image of female beauty promoted by beauty contests is culturally specific and western - it doesn...

The image of female beauty promoted by beauty contests is culturally specific and western - it doesn’t matter how many Asian women win Miss World, they can still only do so if they take part in the swimsuit competition, which may well not be considered appropriate dress in their culture. There were demonstrations against Miss World by feminists and Hindu nationalists when it was held in Bangalore in 1996. Riots in Kaduna in northern Nigeria over Miss World 2002 left more than 200 dead and led to the contest being moved to London.
No because...
Beauty contests, like sport, can be an important focus of national or regional pride. Despite the declining popularity of competitions such as Miss World in the UK, they hold an important cultural place in many parts of the world. The victories in recent years of Miss India, Miss Turkey and Miss Nigeria in Miss World competitions made many Indians, Turks and Nigerians proud, and were seen as symbolic of those countries’ progress in competing with more powerful countries on their own terms.

Beauty Contests Are Harmful
Yes because...

Beauty contests fail to challenge harmful political attitudes to women. Despite paying lip-service ...

Beauty contests fail to challenge harmful political attitudes to women. Despite paying lip-service to feminist keywords such as empowerment and self-confidence, they do nothing concrete to aid the liberation of women; indeed, by reinforcing looks as the most important feminine quality, they harm women’s liberation in general. The fact that the organisers of Miss World 2002 had no problem with holding the contest in Nigeria at the same time as a high-profile case in which a woman was due to be stoned for adultery exposes the competition’s hypocrisy; it was only relocated after rioting made it unsafe to hold it in Nigeria.
No because...
In a society in which women really are valued on the basis of their looks, and in which there really are fewer opportunities for women than for men, beauty contests give women a chance to get noticed and to improve their situations. Winning a beauty contest can be a route to success. Many Hollywood actresses, such as Halle Berry, Michelle Pfeiffer and Sharon Stone, are former beauty queens who simply would not have had the opportunities they have had without the beauty contests they won. In addition, the winners of high-profile beauty contests are able to publicise charities and causes they feel strongly about - they have a public platform they could not otherwise have gained.


3
Continue the Debate - Leave a Comment

2 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
  Subscribe  
Notify of
Brie

How would you feel if your six year old was sitting in a chair for hours just to get dolled up to be judged by random people. Changing her ENTIRE look AND personality just to make her fit a mold that SOCIETY CREATED? Society created this one mold just for all women to fit into. And a lot of men do not like their women to have no meat on her bones, some enjoy those with a healthy or bigger appetite but can still manage their shape, the pressure that society put on women and especially OUR CHILDREN, who are occasionally forced to by their parents. Thousands on dollars goes into these contests and if they make situations better, how come the ones who dont win a beauty contest go bankrupt trying to win one? It makes no sense that everyone has created this mental image of how women and young children SHOULD look just to get anywhere in the world. It causes Bulimia, a very life-threatening eating disorder, Anorexia, and in most cases depression. These people go to the extremes just to be judged and sexualized, it makes me sick for those who disagree that these pageants are VERY harmful to the look and mental state of women.

Rylie

I totally agree. Why do we have a mold that women seem deemed to follow. I agree that everyone has a mental image of what a women should look like, but how many women look like that? Not that many, is what I would say. People go to such extremes to look like all these ‘gorgeous’ women. And yes, I too feel sick for those who disagree that these pageants are very harmful to the look and mental state of women.