Yesterday I found this article online.
It centers around 17-year-old Domonique Ramirez, otherwise known as Ms. San Antonio, who was told to lose 13 pounds if she was to keep her beauty queen crown. She’s suing, and from some of the publicity I’ve read, the public sentiment regarding the whole kerfluffle is something along the lines of, “Oh my, what cruel people these pageant officials are, for demanding that their beauty queen live up to a certain physical standard!”
I have no such sentiments.
I don’t wish to delve into my philosophy of beauty pageants at this particular moment, but let me give you a brief overview by saying that I really don’t have much use for beauty pageants or the participants therein. The participants can talk as much as they’d like about how the pageants give them a platform for good causes or how they’re being judged on more than outward appearance, but their bikini’ed bodies sort of undermine that argument.
Do I think pageants are the worst thing ever to happen to our culture? No. I don’t even think they are the most sexualized portrayal of women in the media. But I think the premise that seems to underlie them (that of judging women according to a set of standards which includes how she looks in various states of near nakedness) is demeaning and offensive. I was livid when church leaders were drooling over Carrie Prejean of the anti-gay-marriage stance; why are we such a one or two issue Church? Why didn’t we bother to look at the messages Ms. Prejean sent via her breast implants and her act of parading across across a stage dressed like a hooker while laughably promoting the platform of self-esteem to young girls? Is that really the type of mouthpiece you want speaking for you on any issue? (By this I’m not saying that I don’t think beauty pageant contestants can’t possibly have anything good to say–some of them are quite intelligent–, but in using them to say it, instead of saying it myself, I become complicit in supporting the female-objectifying platform from which they speak).
So why am I, as someone who is adamantly opposed to women (or men, for that matter) being judged by their external appearance, so cold-hearted with regard to the treatment of this poor little 17-year-old?
Honestly, as far as I’m concerned, she made that bed, and it’s time for her to lie in it. I’m not sure why my generation sometimes seems so stubbornly oblivious to the fact that actions have requisite consequences; Ms. Ramirez’ contract, according to the article, stated that she had to stay at a certain weight to maintain her crown. Is that fair? Well. . .in beauty pageant land, yes, it is, because bigger in that world is definitively not better. I’m sad that this girl is encountering such harsh value messages at the tender and vulnerable age of 17, but she and her handlers either didn’t read that contract carefully enough, or they set her up for exactly such a time as this. If you put yourself in a situation to be judged by your external appearance, you can’t cry foul when the people to whom you have given that power utilize it against you. Either play by the rules or quit the game. Life doesn’t always give you an Option C.