Beauty Pageants

Ooh, my aching head. Read an article this morning in our local 2x/week paper that our rural county is hosting a beauty pageant in November to "motivate young ladies of the county to earn scholarship money for college." My, aren't we noble? I ran upstairs first thing after reading the article and typed out my reply which I will be hand delivering to the editor this AM.

Dear Editor:

I read with interest the August 3rd article that Western Rockingham Middle School will be hosting the first ever Miss Rockingham County Beauty Pageant in November. The scholarship is said to motivate young ladies in Rockingham County to earn scholarship money for college.

Uh-huh. What the pageant is really saying is we’d like to motivate young women in Rockingham County to earn money for college, but only the pretty ones. The rest of you will have to figure something else out.

I find it depressing our county is embracing the same tired, dated, and outrageously look-biased pageants of the past. This is not something to celebrate—this is something to be embarrassed over.

I’m all for competition to earn college money. But how about holding an event open to all young women in our county interested in attending college and not just those with attractive hair, good teeth and a chest that rounds out a swimsuit?

There are so many wasted opportunities here. Off the top of my head, how about a contest that involves talent, interviews, community service, grades, and maybe a prepared speech or public speaking segment? Instead of evening wear, the contests could answer questions while wearing appropriate clothes for those all-important job interviews. This would preclude excessive make-up, big-hair, dangling jewelry and theoretically anything that sparkles.

Young girls are not Barbie dolls to be dressed up and paraded across the stage. Shaky self-esteem is one of the greatest issues faced by young women. I fail to see how judging ones ability to glide gracefully across a stage in an evening gown addresses this issue. Not to mention the exclusionary nature of the event in the first place.

The pageant’s sponsors are to be commended for wanting to address the college needs of young women. I just wish they’d chose a less antiquated, less demeaning, and more fair way to do it.