Beauty Pageants and Feminism

Posted on September 13, 2011

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From Feministe — In defense of the sanctimonious women’s studies set.. YES:

The feminist arguments against beauty pageants are obvious, and have been around even before the famous 1968 demonstrations at the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, which spawned that impossible-to-kill myth of feminist bra-burning. But in 2007, when women are attending college and grad school in record numbers, when the first female Speaker of the House is in power, and when women have unprecedented access to almost all professional fields, why are we still playing dress-up for money?

Despite achieving simple legal equality, women still lag behind when it comes to the higher-up positions in business, law, academia and politics. Our basic right to bodily autonomy is on the chopping block, as more anti-choice legislation and jurisprudence is introduced every year, sending the very strong message that our bodies are not just ours. Beauty is still one of the most valued characteristics a woman can have, and images of beautiful women bombard us every day. Is it any surprise that, in a culture which views women as objects to look at and vessels for reproduction, women will try to use the emphasis on their bodies to their own benefit?

Women are not stupid. We are rational actors who respond accordingly to our environments. From the time we’re little girls, we’re bombarded with images that reflect a very narrow standard of female beauty, and emphasize the idea that beauty (or at least the attempt to be beautiful) is a basic requirement of successful womanhood. If you happen to be blessed with the features that are culturally idealized (whiteness and thinness, among others), why not use it and make some money off of what so many other women do for free, and to feel good about yourself to boot?

Thoughts:

Capitalism, white supremacy, nationalism, beauty standards set by people who don’t even know what it’s like to inhabit a female body..

The fun we are taught to have in playing “dress up”.. would we enjoy it so much if it wasn’t ingrained into our psyches? We’ll never know.  I for one generally feel like I’m in drag when i dress up…

If all these women really want world peace why the fuck don’t they get into community organizing?

performance.

But who’s it really for?

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