Inclusion in Beauty Contests like Miss India


According to the Oxford Dictionary, Beauty [/ˈbjuːti/] is a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.


Not only the entire idea of judging women on the basis of their appearance preposterous, but it is also demeaning, and creates a big dent on a person’s self-esteem. Until very recently, the beauty industry followed a one size fits all approach, with the entire ‘fair and lovely’ movement and the pursuit of a size 0. 


Women parading around in their bikinis under the pretext of checking their fitness levels sounds silly. It wasn’t until recently that the Miss America competition scraped off the swimsuit competition, “We are no longer a pageant. We are a competition. We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance,” Gretchen Carlson, former Miss America and chair of the organization’s board of trustees said. 


Miss India got rid of the bikini round before Miss America. Whether it is an audition or during the contest, contestants aren’t required to wear a bikini in any of the rounds, which is a huge win but the entire idea is so problematic. 


For instance, the contestants for Miss India 2019 look like they have come from a dystopian future, created from the same mold, the same tall, fair, shiny straight hair. Note, that none of these attributes are acquired but one has to be born with unless you do a surgery, which would mean, unlike Beyonce, you didn’t wake up like this. 


Speaking of waking up like this, the official criteria of Miss India says, you would have to be between the ages of 18 and 25 to compete, but 26-27-year-olds don’t fret! You can still compete to be a runner up. You must also be above 5 feet, 5 inches to compete and one must keep in mind that the average height of a woman in India is 5 feet. You cannot be married or have children. The average marital age for a woman in India is 22. There’s no room for transgenders, as the woman must be a ‘naturally’ born female. This criterion is not just ridiculous, it is unreasonable. 


The entire premise of beauty contests is based on the idea that beauty is an external concept, one that can’t be learned or acquired, and contrary to what Maybelline says, it’s most likely not Maybelline because Maybelline is probably not enough. Contests judging you on characteristics that you have no control over is a tricky area. Moreover, how do you judge someone on a concept as abstract beauty? Firstly, there shouldn’t be a contest about something as subjective as beauty, wherein it is not a skill or talent. And secondly, if there is, it should be inclusive, with all skin colours, all heights, ages, body type, hair type, a true representation of women (and men). 


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