I think we should be more upset that beauty pageants still exist than the Steve Harvey mix-up. Up until recently, Miss Universe was owned by Donald Trump. After Trump’s hateful campaign speech against Mexicans and Latins, a lot of performers, participants and supporters of Miss Universe vowed to boycott it because of Trump. What a lot of people don’t know is that Trump sold ownership of the pageant. Because of that, the network was expecting less viewers, and less overall media attention for the pageant. SO, a scandal was only right. A scandal was exactly what they needed to get people talking about Miss Universe. And it worked. Especially a scandal in the Latin community. The same community that publicly rallied against Miss Universe a few months ago. Look up winner’s card given to Harvey. I would’ve made the same mistake he did. Not only was the font ridiculously small, but there was no clear “the winner is” distinction. “You sound like a conspiracy theorist,” well I know enough about mass persuasion, and the psychology of viewers/consumers to know that nothing you see on TV is real. There’s always some level of fabrication. There’s always a play into your needs, wants and fears.
Now back to my point about why beauty pageants shouldn’t exist in modern society:
Pageants are the clear exhibition of our patriarchal societal standards, promoting Eurocentric standards of beauty, a one body type standard of beauty, femininity as the only form of beauty expression, and overall it reinforces false stereotypes and the objectification of women. You must be tall, have long hair, be extremely thin, light skin and/or have Eurocentric features, and be feminine to be considered beautiful. And even though they have a question portion of the contest, the women are more so judged on looks than they are on their intellect. That’s why there are three clothing/aesthetic portions, and only 1 question and answer section where the responses are usually vague, empty and no more than 2 sentences long. There is no talent competition. The fact that beauty is judged on appearance, make up, hair and clothing vs. actual personality, intellect and talent says something about how we measure the value of our women. And the fact that there are running threads on the stupidest things said by beauty queens speaks for itself. The fact that I saw Steve Harvey’s name a good 100 times on my newsfeed but not once “Ariadna Gutierrez” says something. You probably didn’t even know her name until now. Until now she was just Miss Colombia. A symbol, not a person.
You have little girls in third world countries obsessing about their image because they believe their only chance at making it is winning these beauty pageants, vs. becoming authors, doctors, politicians. The pride of some of these countries are the beauty contestants that come out of their land and not the leaders who do. And what if you’re born with dark skin in a country like DR or Cuba or Brazil where white is praised, and black is demonized, even though the majority of their people are brown or black. Is there even a chance for you? Is there room for Afro-Latinas? Is there room for indigenous women? Is there room for trans women?
So I’ll continue to boycott beauty pageants and Fox network. Be careful with bandwagons, you might become food for the monster.
Diana Ozoria began writing short stories and poetry at the age of twelve as a cathartic outlet. She is now twenty three years old, and has found her voice and her peace as a brown feminist who is unapologetically comfortable in her own skin. Born to immigrant Dominican parents, Diana was raised in the hyphenated limbo space that lies between the other and the “American,” ni de aqui, ni de allá, never belonging here nor there. As the oldest in a family of five living under the poverty line, moving from one relative’s basement to another’s empty bedroom, privacy was impossible growing up. She escaped into the realms offered to her by books, and created her own reality in her writing. There, no borders, no limits, no ceilings existed. She saw a door in every character she befriended. She was her own heroine in every story she wrote. Her inspiration sprouts from love, trauma, culture, sociopolitical ideals, the intersections between gender and race, and the relentless human struggle to define our identity and purpose. Twitter: @papercutblisss