Opinion: Beauty pageants aren’t what you think they are

Danielle Vivcharenko

As much as we like to deny that the United States is a patriarchal paradigm, the fact remains that sexism is still prevalent today. This issue is very apparent when focusing on feminine activity and how it’s constantly labeled as weak or demeaning. It’s seen throughout our daily lives, but I often see it through the most controversial topic of gender disenfranchisement: beauty pageants.

If we’re being completely honest, then yes, pageants are inherently sexist. Specifically with being Miss America, you have to be talented, well-spoken, fit and confident.

However, the U.S. has yet to have a female figure serve as the president.

The blatant disrespect of pageant contestants is apparent not through the judgment of physical beauty on the system’s part, but through the audience. An average viewer believes that the contestants are primarily judged on sex appeal and fashion and not on their personal service platforms and current events.

Miss America’s objective is to be the largest scholarship provider for women. When televised, the focus is on the surface, not what lies within.

The women who compete for the most coveted crown in pageant history tend to have notable careers. The current Miss America, Cara Mund, obtained a degree from Brown University and will be pursuing her doctorate at Notre Dame University, and hopes to become the first female governor of North Dakota. Other women competing are doctors, lawyers, artists and professors, yet this information always seems insignificant when televised.

However, aren’t these the women you would want to have as role models for your daughter?

I often question why the interview portions are never televised or discussed, even when it is 25 percent of the overall score.

We glorifying the vapid parts of the system on ABC and not drawing attention to the substantial portions of the competition that are weighted the most?

The idea that “sex sells” just promotes the negativity that pageants try to stay away from, and it promotes objectification. Luckily, multiple systems are improving by reevaluating their ideals and readjusting the competition to give every woman a fighting chance.

As a young woman who is a first generation college student, I have relied on pageants in order to afford college. The more accessible and beneficial it becomes to all women. It can evolve to stop being just for those who are privileged through class or race and truly become a platform for bettering all women.

Danielle Vivcharenko is a guest columnist, contact her at [email protected]