I would say, “Miss America 2014 is Ms. Nina Davuluri, “…and the Indian Idol is Anjana Padmanabh”, “The Master chef for season three is Ripudaman Handa” in the same breath. For me all these are just reality shows, which I enjoy watching.
I agree unabashedly that beauty pageant shows for me are as entertaining as the film award shows, as in both we celebrate glamour and entertainment in its full form. I have watched these shows since childhood and they have never affected me in any way as a child. Neither did I ever think of going into movies nor did I ever think of ‘how-to-be-recognized’ for beauty! For me, as a child, they were just another type of competition with an iota of entertainment.
Just as there are reality shows for singing, dancing, showing different talents, so are these beauty pageants. There is nothing great about it, but then, it is reassurance of a young girl’s beauty by the world. Young women enter the beauty pageant expecting to change their bodies, and to emerge as good human beings. Winning a beauty pageant is a recognition and confirmation of the self-assessed beauty of the participants. They follow diets, exercise rigorously and groom themselves in all ways possible to become not only more beautiful but become a ‘beauty with brains’!
Reading about Miss America, Ms. Nina Davaluri, a Telugu girl, born to a traditional Indian family settled in the US, an important thing struck me! Her parents and grandparents are highly educated and are in respectable jobs. Nina has been a good student through school and wishes to become a Doctor one day like everyone else in her family. She has learnt Indian classical dance keeping the Indian tradition intact. So for people like her, winning a beauty pageant is just another achievement giving her an opportunity to showcase her talents and brains, along with her physical beauty!
If a kid has a good voice, we tend to put her/him in singing lessons, and if the kid has interest in dance, we put her/him in a dance school to polish their talents. So also, if a young girl is beautiful, and has groomed herself well, some parents think of beauty pageants. After all, a parent always wants their kid to reach heights, earn name and fame in a rightful way. I don’t feel that that is wrong in any way. But, yes, if the parent, right from the kid’s childhood, encourages the girl’s beauty and tells her that she is born to win a beauty pageant, then that is wrong. It totally depends on us as parents to explain to the kids about every walk of life. What our kids become or want to become depends on how we bring them up and what kind of culture we instill in them.
If we put aside the beauty being personified in these pageants, the instant recognition of the individual, and of course, the grand prize money, there is another important side to it. Beauty pageants, like film stars, are always in a position to do charity work and do fund-raising for the society for different causes. Along with their brains and beauty, comes a responsibility to the society they are living in for which they are bound if not forever, at least for one year from the day they wear the crown.
Giving back to the society in the guise of a beauty pageant is fair enough as long as it doesn’t affect the individual’s life in a negative way. Think of it as another form of competition, and so shall it remain! As long as they don’t harm the society by luring all youngsters into it, it is ‘beautiful’ enough!