Pageantry or Prejudice

Modern-day pageantry is changing its role in sexism

Pageantry or Prejudice

Olivia Sherlock, Story Editor

So I guess I’m a bad feminist.  

I realize that pageants started as a way to belittle women to just their looks. But I believe that as America has progressed so have pageants.

Yes, pageants, in the end, are decided on someone else’s judgment of how you performed. But couldn’t the same be said about some sports? Dance, gymnastics, dive or competitive cheer are all sports based on a judges score.

So why does pageantry get the stigma?

I’ll address the elephant in the room — the bikini contest — which will not be a part of Miss America 2019 but remains in most other pageants. While some people may find making women walk around in tiny swimsuits and heels demeaning, sexist and old fashioned, I argue that it’s a glass half full type of situation.

You could look at it as sexist, but you could also look at it as empowering. Women walk in front of millions of people in swimsuits, confident in themselves, embracing not only their feminine power but also normalizing the female body.

While this portion of the contest started as a sexualization of the female body, the women in the contests helped to change that to women owning their sexuality and owning their bodies.

The final portion of the night, before the crowning, is the question-and-answer segment. This allows the audience to see these women’s opinions on real issues. Not only do the competitors get to show off their knowledge of current events, but they also get to express their opinions and raise their voices.

You can say that pageants show off the worst most sexist side of tradition here in America, but I see it in a different light. I see a bunch of women coming together embracing their bodies, embracing their femininity and sharing their opinions on things that matter.

The pageants can be a platform of female empowerment, allowing women to raise their voices as equals. Even though they’re wearing a dress and heels that does not change the fact that they could out talk most people on politics and current events any day.

Outside of the competition, every girl is doing community work, raising money for charities and volunteering.

So maybe we should be idolizing these women in pageants. Not because of their looks, or how well they walk, but because of their confidence, generosity, brains and talents.

I should be able to walk in front of a room in a dress and heels and be taken just as seriously as the man standing next to me in jeans — and that is the type of empowerment pageantry can give.

Just because someone is feminine doesn’t mean they are any less smart or talented than the less feminine person next to them, and they should be taken just as seriously.

Women should be seen as equals no matter what they’re wearing, even if that’s a sash and crown.