Beauty Pageants, As Sanity Rests In Peace

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So a pretty lady wears some pretty clothes, puts on some pretty makeup, walks on a pretty dais, in a pretty manner and wins a pretty crown. She wins the crown because she was prettier than every other pretty lady, in everything every pretty lady there was asked to do. Now as I understand, there are two reasons for going through this. First, for a designer to showcase his/her talent in creating good clothing, he/she needs someone to flaunt his/her creation – a model. Second, to find the prettiest of all the pretty ladies in town, at least from among those who decided to be judged, this procedure is essential.

The thing is I have an issue with this setup. No, I have no problems with the first reason, since it’s the designer who wins the award and not the one flaunting it and neither would I mind if the model gets some credit because he/she did his/her job well. As long as the primary credit goes to the designer. People want to dress well and who am I to stand in between and point fingers? I don’t mind dressing well either. So that’s okay.

What I’m not comfortable with is the second reason – beauty pageants – someone winning something for having the best looking exterior. Also, since the earlier I make myself clear the better, I better be absolutely honest about it. I’m not just uncomfortable, I absolutely despise this arrangement. In my opinion, the very concept of a competition to choose the best looking human from either gender is one of the stupidest of the many ridiculous ideas cooked up by mankind over the course of many a stupid centuries. Absolute nonsense! That’s my central point. Now, now. Calm down. Be seated and let me explain myself.

Sure it’s not just beauty, the attitude and the confidence are also scrutinized. Fair enough. My question is, why? I mean, what for? The way I see, in our society, if we, as a society, recognize something about an individual – with informal appreciation or a formal honour – it almost always deals with something that benefits the society, or at least a part of the society. That something is called talent. And the said recognition comes when the said talent is put to use in a way that enriches the society, by any worthwhile amount.

Now let us talk about talent. Why? Because that is the key that unlocks the present issue. And because I have a very opportune quote gift-wrapped, with champagne, for this occasion.

“We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.”

– Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

I may be a good dancer (I’m actually the worst. Ever.), you may be a great singer, the one beside you may be a great painter – each of those is a talent and that makes each one of us talented in some way. But why is it a talent? Because these qualities have the ability, the power, to enrich the society we live in. A good dance, a good song, a good painting – each has the ability to please an individual, the building block of the society, and enrich his/her daily life. Every individual has hobbies and your or my talents can enhance his/her life and consequently, the society.

But, as dear Madeleine once said, just because we are born with such talents doesn’t automatically make us worthy of appreciation. Unless we utilize our talents to enrich others’ lives, it is just not worth mentioning. And here is where my woes unfold. Being a good looking, or say, the best-looking human is not even a talent, no sir. What good are your good looks for me, my friend or the society? That won’t make me happy, fill my stomach, pay my rent or drive me around, now will it? You’re good-looking. That’s about it. End of story.

L’Engle and I don’t consider talented people worthy of appreciation if they don’t contribute to the society but here is a concept by the good human race to recognize, appreciate and adore fellows humans on something that is not even a talent, something that – except for pleasing the eyes for a bit – is perfectly useless. There are cameras, there’s video recordings, there’s live telecasts, huge money is spent, there are throngs of people, people of many ages, people from far and wide – all assembled together to gawk at something beautiful but practically useless. The sensual pleasure derived is too short-lived and superficial to call it a talent. It’s just something people are born with. Like a nose, two ears, two eyes and four limbs. Born a bit differently and not with any of their effort. Absolutely nothing to pride oneself on.

Yet this concept has continued, and will continue to thrive. Over the many talkative centuries, man has said many a great things about himself – he has always loved to talk about himself – and the most common bit of arrogance from his mouth has always been how intelligent and sensible he considers himself to be over every other being that breathes. But with each passing minute I spend on the planet where – the birth of a baby of royal parentage, the wedding in a family of unmatched fame and many a competitions devoted to fellow human’s appearance – all get a million times more attention and appreciation than a fight for freedom in some oppressed and forgotten land or the efforts of an anonymous scientist who spends his life creating a life-changing cure or an advanced piece of tech, I keep wishing we went back in time. Especially because I believe it is only going to get worse. Buckle-up.