The Real Reason I Don’t Like Pageants

By Katie, 5:27 am

I just heard that the Miss USA pageant will be airing this Sunday night, and I had a rather interesting reaction.

You probably think that I dislike pageants because of their obvious objectification of women. Because of the way women literally parade around being judged on the way they look in a bikini. Because there’s a an actual crown associated with it.


But honestly, when I heard that the Miss USA pageant is this weekend I was more shocked than appalled. Really? I thought. This stuff is still going on?

Truthfully, the whole idea of a beauty pageant just seems downright boring to me! Boring and old-fashioned and outdated. Women in bikinis and high heels with perfect hair and flawless makeup and disturbingly white teeth? Been there, seen that. About a million times. Including every single time I turn on the television.

Going to school for Women’s Studies and writing this blog and dialoguing with all of you has shown me just how complex our relationship with beauty really is. It’s those complexities that I find interesting and intriguing, making the very idea of a pageant just seem so…over-simplified. It completely ignores the intricacies of our sexualities. It doesn’t get me riled up or inflamed; it just makes me feel tired. Hmph.

At this point, I feel like we’ve all seen enough padded boobs, sky-high legs, orangey-tans, and super-toned abs to last us a lifetime. We have better things to do than watch a beauty pageant, no?

Anyone else pretty much sick of beauty pageants???

22 Responses to “The Real Reason I Don’t Like Pageants”

  1. I never thought about it this way and I have to say, Katie, I agree 100%. Just kind of over it.

    • I think a lot of people feel this way, I think the ratings keep dropping and dropping and dropping…

      I don’t want to blame girls (and even if they’re women now, they started in pageants as girls) who see pageants as a route to another life – acting, modeling, etc., but surely there’s a better way to get there.

      I have to wonder, if they put as much effort into, say, ADVANCED MATH, as they put into the YEARS of costumes and hair, nails, diet, mastering a talent and learning the “right” answers to all those trick questions, if they might not get as far or even farther in life.

      • Katie says:

        I do think that the women in these competitions are much more complex and layered than the pageants make them out to be. I hope that they are exploring and embracing those depths of themselves, even though it isn’t facilitated by this line of work. (Work? Do they get paid to do this?)

        • Remember the one year that they had a reality show leading up to the pageant? I think it might have been on TLC? Now that was more interesting than the actual pageant — we got to get to know more about the girls. Maybe I’m the only one that remembers this :)

          Oh and tonight on 20/20 there is some special about one of the girls and about how if she wins it will help her homeless family.

          I guess I’m still a bit intrigued — but it’s not for the actually beauty pageant.. it’s more about learning about the girls.

  2. Kelly says:

    I honestly don’t think beauty pageants are any different than fitness competitions. They are both unhealthy! Those women in fitness competitions have a very unhealthy level of body fat, are usually starving their bodies and yet everyone seems to think those are okay. Bloggers line up and congratulate people who do those competitions. I don’t see any difference. It is disgusting what some women will do to their bodies all in the name of “beauty” or “fitness.”

    • Katie says:

      I appreciate you bringing this up, Kelly. I purposefully didn’t mention fitness competitions only because I don’t know a whole lot about them, but it sounds like they’re a lot closer to a “beauty pageant” than I realized.

  3. FindingMe says:

    I agree. It’s the same as the show “Toddlers and Tiaras”. Unbelievable.

    • Katie says:

      I’ve heard of that show but have never seen it. Probably because I would flip out.

  4. Megan says:

    For sure! And what’s the accomplishment there? A woman who, by virtue of genetics and/or surgery, happens to look a particular way, so she receives a sparkly tiara. And…?

  5. Alexis says:

    The only thing I like are the costumes in the beginning when the different countries are introduced. Other than that, they are very boring. The girls still look like 80s game show sidekicks. They all want to save the planet and facilitate world peace in between church, school and future motherhood…
    I find all these shows boring, though. I’m sick of the 60+ award shows where Hollywood, the music industry, and theater pat themselves on the back for 3 hours at a time.

  6. I agree, Katie. And for me it’s not just that the pageants are still going on, it’s that within them, almost all of the women look the SAME!! The body type is quite generic.

  7. Ruth says:

    I agree with you Katie.

    Besides the mind-numbing boredom and objectification, I also object to the reinforcement of SUCH A NARROW standard of beauty. Beauty comes in different shapes, sizes, nose-lengths, etc., etc.

  8. McKella says:

    I have an interesting relationships with pageants. My mom was a pageant girl. My cousins do pageants. I always thought my mother and my cousins were so much more beautiful than me, so pageants were a symbols of something I could never have: a crown on my head for being beautiful, or basically just resounding approval for the way I look and act.
    I think that’s how I saw it, as a reward or a stamp of approval.I actually just wrote my Word-by-Word post on rejecting the fear of disapproval and embracing ourselves and how much guts that takes.

  9. Bubu says:

    Gotta say, pageants just don’t even register with me – don’t watch them, didn’t grow up with them, if they ceased to exist I would probably not even notice. But also have to say, on the scale of “harmful to self-image” or feminist ideas, they strike me as less harmful than a lot else that is out and around, I worry more about girls aspiring to some of the tween stars than a pageant star. And runway models are a lot more unhealthy looking than pageant contestants. But in full disclosure, while pageants don’t draw me at all, I am a sucker for the Oscars every year- not any other award shows, just that one. The dresses, the hoopla- plus, these folks are distinctive looking and have some talents besides looking good (well, some of them, anyway). So can’t quite justify my position on this one, I know it’s not really defensible.

    • Katie says:

      Maybe not, but I’m right there with you when it comes to the Oscars! I genuinely enjoy seeing the dresses, for whatever reason.

  10. shelley says:

    i agree i really don’t like beauty pageants. they are absolutely absurd in my opinion and i think they need to be reexamined because i dont necessarily think they portray a good example to young girls

  11. I agree– Beauty isn’t about everyone looking the same. (ie. tan, stick thin, heavily made up)

  12. Tamara says:

    I do think pageants are silly, but they don’t bother me that much. If people want to spend their time on these things, well, that’s their choice. I don’t have to watch it, just like I don’t have to watch people burn resources driving around in circles at 500 mph, or watch other people who happen to be taller than average run from one side of a court to another for millions of dollars a year. I can just ignore them, because it’s not like the looks pushed by these pageants set the universal standard for beauty. I’m the polar opposite of a leggy blonde but people still tell me I’m pretty.

  13. Kym says:

    I came across this blog randomly (months after the Miss USA pageant). I know most people are pretty set in their opinions, but just thought I’d share this:

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