Okay I have been thinking about this obsessively and I mean obsessively. So I have to share a few more thoughts.
I reblogged this post earlier this evening but I can’t help but feel angry about this whole thing.
Shouldn’t any of the 50 women participating in the Miss America pageant be praised for her beauty, confidence and attitude – regardless of body type. I mean even at a size 2 would you want to stand on stage on national TV with your bikini on KNOWING that those judges are going to make public judgments about you in front of the stage audience and the at home viewers watching … all judging you by the way?
By running to tweet your heart out about what a great thing it is to see a ‘normal’ girl on the stage, you are contributing to the body shaming of the 49 other women on the stage – and acknowledging that the show you are choosing to watch (and therefore help fund) has an expectation of skinny women that may be boarding too skinny. When did that become okay.
I’d also like to point out that you are watching a beauty pageant. These women are being judged first and foremost on their appearance and then use personality as a tie breaker. Frankly I think the whole system is flawed but you know what you are signing up for when you sit down and turn on the TV and tune into the latest year of parading scantily clad flesh in an itty bitty bathing suit across a stage.
Miss Indiana 2014 – if somehow you run across this one day, you’re beautiful. To be fair you are clearly a confidant woman and that goes a long way. The women who competed with you are beautiful women. Do I think you were brave? Sure – going to the beach in a one piece is hard enough but you walked out on a stage full of judgment and critical eyes in a two piece … center stage! But the reality is that you were no more brave than the size 2 that followed you or preceded you. That is not meant to take anything away from you or from the competition you choose to participate in but if we want so desperately to change body image and society’s message about what is acceptable, we need to look at things like this as body type neutral. Hard when you are judging beauty but not impossible.
If we dream even a little bigger and address the man in charge here is what I would propose
You are a wise business man and you know all about supply and demand … or demand and supply. Frankly, Miss America has been getting a lot of attention the last few years. A transgendered individual claiming discrimination and now all of the hype around Miss Indiana and her ‘normal’ body type. I don’t know if I would call her ‘normal’ since normal is, by definition, a majority rules and the majority of women in our fine country are overweight (something Miss. Indiana clearly is not). But I digress.
I looked up the judging process and if you should ever decide to give the people ‘what they want’ or prove to them that this is not really what they want, I have a proposal.
First we need to change the fitness and lifestyle category to have nothing to do with a bathing suit. Maybe have a physical competition or requirement. For example all contestants must basically do a presidential fitness test and points are given based on how well you do relative to all other participants. That would provide a more objective and less ‘looks-based’ assessment of lifestyle and fitness.
Second, the order needs to be changed for both the prelim and final competition.
- The first thing you should do is an onstage ‘blinded’ question. The judges cannot see the contestant while she is providing an answer to the question. There is no way they can judge her on looks in that case. This would likely be the best way to get an unbiased scoring for this.
- The second step would be private interview. Because this woman will be getting a scholarship and making public appearances this doesn’t have to be blind. A person comfortable making eye contact is a must for the job.
- Third the talent portion
- Fourth lifestyle and fitness
- And finally the evening gown.
For the final competition I propose a similar change and that lifestyle and fitness be relegated to to only the prelim.
- We start with the online question for the top 16 from the prelim and use this to narrow down to the top 10
- Next we do talent and use this score to narrow down to the top 8
- Next in line would be evening ware
- and Finally the final ballot
Bonus – with taking out the lifestyle portion you can either make commercial breaks just a little longer or cut air time, either way I hear money in your pocket. I hypothesize that this would only last for a year before people didn’t like that the ‘pretty girl’ got cut and then you could be accused of discriminating against stupid people.
Essentially I am trying to illustrate that change doesn’t need to (and won’t) start in the media. What we think is right, what we choose to support, and what we find interesting is what sells the media. You don’t like stick thin women competing against each other in a competition that judges them on beauty before brains? Don’t watch it, don’t buy the magazine that is 3/4 about the pageant, and don’t expect it to change if you do.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.