Miss Universe – nice girl, demeaning contest

I've never been a fan of beauty pageants and really, why would you be? They seem to hark back to a sad, weird pre-feminist time when women were judged solely on how they look and valued purely as decoration. Even modelling contests – which I don't like either – are marginally better because at least modelling is a job. What is the job of a beauty queen except to be visual eye candy and smile and wave? Ugh.

The current Miss Universe Australia (what does this even mean?) is one of the prettiest girls I've ever seen – Rachael Finch – and despite carrying the * cough * hopes of this great nation on her slender shoulders, she didn't quite manage to do a Jennifer Hawkins earlier this week and bring home the Miss Universe crown and sash. She came fourth – although I believe she came first in the swimsuit section. Yes, the swimsuit section. Put that in your CV and smoke it.

There was a terrific piece in The Punch this week by Paul Colgan who wrote..

Look at this picture. Any competition that presents an image of women from Ecuador as straw-hat wearing lovelies who carry carry around bananas and tribal masks deserves nothing but opprobrium.

Other dresses in the “national costume” section of the competition are similarly clownish stereotypes. Ostensibly they’re supposed to celebrate the diversity of the competition – but Miss Panama ends up looking like she’s being eaten by a cartoon monster from the internet, and Miss Bahamas ends up looking like a giant yellow peacock (sorry – no link, take my word for it). It might be funny, if it wasn’t so crass.

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I have no issue with the girls who enter. Many of them are looking for a break, a way into a career, or just trying to have some honest fun.

But the competition represents the worst of the many ways in which beautiful women are regarded as at their best when all standing in a row, smiling, in bikinis.

These days you’d be hard pressed to find anyone with a bad word to say about Hawko. She’s gorgeous, down to earth, hard working, graceful, and held in the highest esteem by people around the country. She’s “our Jen”, but much more so than “our Nicole” – she has her feet on the ground, and you imagine you’d have no trouble getting on with her.

Hawkins was discovered by Miss Universe. Fair enough. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s a silly and demeaning event.

Paul, I'm with you. Below is the clip of Rachael Finch's interview question – contestants are judged on their answer to a surprise question which, I have to say, would be pretty stressful but STILL……I was hiding under my desk while I watched it [thanks Lana for sending it my way], such was the cringe-factor.

Look, I don't want to have a go at Rachael because she seems like a sweet, pretty girl. This isn't about her or about Jennifer Hawkins. It's about the whole premise of these contests which just seem so…..1950s throwback to a time when women were just pretty faces.

And surely it's time to move on from that.

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