I confess that I am ambivalent about beauty contests. I know in my brain that these events promote a shallow, sexist view of womanhood, and I should be ashamed of myself for admiring the contestants.
But in my heart, I keep hearing the line from Irving Berlin’s song that compares “a pretty girl” to “a melody.” I know, women are not put on earth to provide eye candy for us males. Neither are butterflies or bluebirds or azaleas or… But we are allowed to enjoy them anyway, aren’t we?
However, that’s not what this blog is about.
Whether you approve of them or not, beauty contests have been around for a long time, and are likely to be around for a long time to come. Naturally, the judges’ choices will always cause controversy. Beauty, they say, lies in the eyes of the beholder, and it’s really quite impossible to say one young woman is more “beautiful” than another.
Usually, the disagreements are benign, but as society becomes more diverse, hot-button issues like racism are emerging.
This year’s Miss America pageant, for example, set off a flurry of ugly “tweets” when contestant Nina Davuluri, a native of Syracuse, New York (above, right), won the coveted crown.
Ms. Davuluri is of Indian descent.
According to today’s news reports, her choice sparked “a carnival of hate speech in the twitterverse.” A howling pack of ignoramuses assumed the dusky beauty was an Arab or some other kind of Muslim, and therefore had to be a terrorist.
The runaway choice of the anti-Davuluri tweeters was Theresa Vail (above, left), who supposedly represents “American values.”
The blonde-haired, blue-eyed Miss Kansas spent five years in the National Guard. And her supporters complained Ms. Vail lost because, “the liberal Miss America judges were not interested in a gun-toting, deer-hunting, military veteran.”
Fortunately, such xenophobic idiots represent a shrinking minority n America – and in the world. Their voices may be loud but their time is short.
As the world changes, mankind – and womankind – will become ever more diverse, and soon beauty of all kinds will be as welcome as the various flavors of ice cream, each enjoyable in its own special way.