Why are Beauty Contests Harmful?

beauty contestsCompetition can be fairly called one of the main motivators, as well as one of the main organizing principles for individuals. It affects many spheres of life: employment, work performance, global marketing, education, creativity and arts, even entertainment. A bright example of the latter is beauty contests; despite their purely entertaining nature, they can be harmful or even dangerous in terms of setting inappropriate beauty standards, encouraging to evaluate people by their appearance, and affecting public opinion negatively.

The most obvious detrimental effect of beauty pageants is enforcing an inappropriate body perception for men and women. Unlike the majority of so-called “average” women, the beauty of such contests’ participants is cherished and rehearsed; this is the case when natural beauty is heavily supported by the efforts of visagistes and dressers. Though pageants represent the absolute minority of the society, their appearances set high, unrealistic standards for how women of all ages should look like (Miss America). Young girls who try to live up to these standards, mature women complexing about their bodies, men who demand their wives/girlfriends to look like beauty pageants—all of them are affected by the illusions propagated by beauty contests.

Another perception issue arises from the very nature of beauty contests—the objectification of women. Despite proclaimed gender equality, physical attractiveness (including sexual) remains one of the major requirements for women today (FAR). No matter how progressive and tolerant people strive to be, they still make their first impression about other people by their appearance, and this is natural. However, the idea of beauty contests implies evaluating women solely on their physical shape, ignoring all other aspects of individuality. Interviewing, meant to show a contestants personality is a fraud; as one of the former pageants wrote, none of the judges wanted to hear about deep problems, asking about the most challenging childhood experiences (Generation Progress). This turns a woman into a media object, or even a product, that can be assessed and then either approved or rejected; due to the popularity of beauty contests, such attitude is being widely propagated.

Health problems among the younger generation is yet another negative effect caused by beauty contests. Skinny models performing in such shows have undergone years of exercising and diets—they have developed special lifestyles to maintain their perfect shape; on the other hand, adolescent girls striving to look “better” exhaust themselves with hunger, considering it to be the main method to becoming slim (FAR). Such an attitude often leads to anorexia and other related psychological problems; because of the continuous influence of media-created images of the “perfect shape,” the number of young women with anorexia remains high.

The idea of beauty contests implies competing in physical attractiveness. Ignoring the absurdity of this idea, a number of detrimental effects caused by such contests still needs to be emphasized. Beauty contests set unrealistic standards of beauty, which lower women’s self-esteem and increase the demands of men for their wives or girlfriends. Beauty contests objectify women, turning them into a product that can be assessed based solely on its appearance. In addition, beauty pageants influence the minds of adolescents, often resulting in anorexia and other psychological disorders.

References

“The Negative Effects of Beauty Pageants on Society.” Miss America. N.p., 11 Nov. 2010. Web. 13 Jan. 2014. <http://missamericapageant.blogspot.com/2010/11/negative-effects-of-beauty-pageants-on.html>.

Angelotti, Amanda. “Confessions of a Beauty Pageant Drop-Out.” Generation Progress. N.p., 25 Jan. 2006. Web. 13 Jan. 2014. <http://genprogress.org/voices/2006/01/25/13893/confessions-of-a-beauty-pageant-dropout/>.

Ferguson, Ryan. “Anorexia: The Scourge of Adolescence.” FAR. N.p., 30 June 2012. Web. 13 Jan. 2014.

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