Friday, January 05, 2007

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Beautiful behaviour

Today I'm looking at some recent news that's entirely unimportant from a cosmic perspective. It's certainly important to the young women who're involved, and I don't mean to belittle that. But beyond them, it's just a meaningless footnote on the TV screen under the anchorwoman's collar.

The young women are Tara Conner and Katie Rees, and they're beauty pageant winners. Ms Conner was Miss Kentucky, and now Miss USA. Ms Rees was Miss Nevada. And they've been bad girls.

First, Ms Conner was caught drinking, having gotten “caught up in the whirlwind of New York.” She's not of legal drinking age (perhaps the subject of another post at another time), and was, well, not behaving in a way that made the Miss USA folks proud. And who's the head of the Miss USA folks? Donald Trump, of course:

"I've always been a believer in second chances," Trump, who owns the Miss Universe Organization with NBC, said with Conner at his side.
And so, with that statement, Mr Trump allowed Ms Conner to keep her Miss USA title, despite her transgressions.

Ms Rees has not gotten a second chance, though her attorney is asking for it, but, then, Ms Rees did not just get drunk: she posed for dirty pictures five years ago:

Miss Nevada USA was stripped of her title Thursday after racy photos of her appeared on the Internet, pageant officials said. Some of the photos show Katie Rees, 22, kissing other young women, exposing one of her breasts and pulling down her pants to show her thong underwear at a party in Tampa, Florida.

Now, I have trouble taking these things seriously in the first place, but, as I said, I know that they're important to the young women in question. Winning the pageants gets them prize money and short-term employment directly, and indirectly leads to future jobs (the 2002 Miss Virginia, for instance, has a gig as a hostess on a New York City TV show).

But it's the hipocrisy of the whole thing that bothers me. We tell girls and young women to prance around on stage and show us how nice they look in evening gowns and swimsuits. We give it a responsible veneer by putting in a talent segment and by asking them what they would do to change the world, if they could. But we really judge them for how pretty they are, and whether they have nice enough boobs and tight enough tushes. And then we tell them that they must be pure of soul and keep up a good image for the organization, and try not to think about the guys ogling them on television and putting them in their sexual fantasies.

Why on Earth do these things even exist? There are acting schools and modeling schools, for people who seriously want to go into those professions. For those who want to work with non-profit organizations and change the world, there are other points of entry. What do beauty pageants bring us besides an image that one of the most important things women can do is be beautiful?

And make money for Donald Trump.

1 comment:

Left Brain said...

You make an excellent point. Unfortunately, (or fortunately for my industry) beauty is prized by people more than things like rational thought and scientific achievement.