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Miss Universe: Beauty Isn’t Skin Deep

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Jaylen Moulton

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Image+via+Wikimedia+under+the+Creative+Commons+license
Image via Wikimedia under the Creative Commons license

Image via Wikimedia under the Creative Commons license

Image via Wikimedia under the Creative Commons license

The 65th Miss Universe pageant, hosted by Steve Harvey (yeah, the guy who messed up…5-year contract must be quite the double-edged sword!), was held Sunday, Jan. 29 in Manila, Philippines. Last year’s winner, Miss Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, crowned her successor, Miss France, Iris Mittenaere. Miss Universe, as well as other beauty pageants, are controversial as critics assume these events are sexist reinforcements of beauty standards that objectify females.

Although all of these are valid arguments against beauty pageants. The idea that women have to prance around on a stage and model for the whole world can seem sexist because it is dehumanizing. During the broadcast, do we look at these women as humans or as gorgeous faces? Not to mention, where are all the male beauty pageants? Why are women the sole focus of beauty pageants, from ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ to ‘Miss America,’ men are less of a focus in the beauty realm when compared to women. Nevertheless, this reasoning does not embody the intent of the pageants. If it were dehumanizing through objectification, would any of these women participate, especially when the organization’s mission statement wants women to be confident in themselves. As for the lack of male pageants, is this sexism or are women just more interesting to watch? There are many ways to look at this, but for the most part, the pageants’ true intent is overshadowed because of claims it is sexist.

When looking at these contests from the opposite angle, it introduces the idea that beauty-based competitions are not solely judging beauty. In fact, there is more substance to beauty pageants, specifically Miss Universe, than simply, “Look at all these pretty women. Who is the prettiest of all?”

Miss Universe, on the surface, is a contest between various countries who have the prettiest woman from their nation compete against one another to see who is the prettiest woman in the world. This is clearly on a global scale, demonstrating the differences between what certain nations, and respectively their cultures, find the most attractive in women. The global reach of the competition highlights two significant themes that are overlooked. We pride the Olympics in joining nations because even if countries and people are divided, it provides a sense of unity all over the world. It tells us that sports do not discriminate on international lines and that differences should be put aside and do not define us. Similarly, Miss Universe does the same thing but is often not recognized for doing so, because of the controversy that is associated with it. Women from all over the world with different backgrounds are united through this pageant and emphasize beauty as a universal aspect. Everyone can appreciate beauty regardless of a person’s national origin. Furthermore, Miss Universe showcases the different perceptions of beauty worldwide. Many women feel as if Miss Universe reinforces beauty standards, but on the contrary, the fact that so many women, with their own distinct looks, are on stage shows beauty differs from culture to culture and on an even smaller scale, truly depends on the person. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Another fault many people identify within beauty pageants is the objectification of women’s bodies. I kindly disagree with this notion. I argue, instead, that Miss Universe expands on the continuous appreciation of women’s beauty. The majority of people do not watch this event to ogle the women, but rather to bask in their magnificence. This has been a common theme for hundreds of years. The female body form has constantly been appreciated in the arts. Artists view women’s bodies as a form of natural perfection as seen in art pieces such as Venus de Milo, Frederic Leighton’s “Flaming June,” and Edvard Munch’s “Madonna.”

Venus de Milo (Source: Wikimedia)

Beauty pageants don’t only focus on how attractive a woman is, and the majority contain question portions to their competitions. Asking the contestants questions shows that beauty can only get you so far. If a woman is only valued for her beauty, how will her voice ever be heard? Miss Universe gives women the opportunity to share their voice and illustrates intellect as a highly regarded trait. The question they asked the top three finalists for Miss Universe was “Name something from the course of your life that you failed at, and tell us what you learned from this experience” and these were the answers. Clearly, a beautiful mind is just as, if not more, stunning as a beautiful face!

It has already been established that these women are all breath-taking in their own way, but even more breath-taking is their accomplishments, life events, and confidence. For the women who do make it passed the preliminary and are selected for the live broadcast show, they are given a platform to share their stories. Our very own Miss USA discusses her service in the military as well as the loss of her mother to cancer (as seen in the video below). The winner, Miss France, aspires to be a dentist. Miss Panama describes the love for her mother who raised her alone. Miss Haiti explains why she wants to find a cure for blindness and Miss Thailand is a microbiology major. All these women have different goals and life stories, but what they all share is ambition and confidence, making them great role models for anyone. This competition allows them to display their ambition and confidence on a larger scale, inspiring millions who watch. After the competition, the winner works with the Miss Universe organization to achieve her goals and apply them on a national or global scale working with charities as a representative for the Miss Universe organization, to help boost her career.


Negative points to this competition have often been presented, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. The unity of nations, emphasis on the subjectivity of beauty, the appreciation rather than objectification of women, the value of intellect, and the platform/opportunities Miss Universe gives to the winners and demonstrates to the audience all show the organization’s encouraging attitude to women.

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Miss Universe: Beauty Isn’t Skin Deep