Beauty pageants have never been very popular among feminists, but in recent years it hasn’t been just the feminists who believe pageants like the Miss USA contest should come to an end, and for good reason.
Today, beauty pageants are linked to wild nights filled with drinking, drugs and various other racy behaviors that most parents would disapprove of. Miss USA used to present a role model for girls everywhere to look up to, someone who maintained a balance between beauty and brains.
Recently however, the women competing for Miss USA are anything but role models. This raises the question: What happened? The answer is simply that America has put far too much pressure on young women across the nation to be the perfect role model in every way, and after 86 years of following orders, beauty pageant contestants are making up their own rules.
The biggest blow to the Miss USA pageant occurred in December 2006 when reining queen Tara Conner admitted to illegal drinking, illegal drug use and sexually inappropriate behavior in public. When charges of underage drinking were first brought against Conner, she claimed it was a one-time thing, and that she was in no way an alcoholic. Conner also told the press that she just got carried away in the fast-paced city; she originally came from a small town in Kentucky and was not used to the thrills of big city living.
However after leaving rehab on Feb. 1, Conner admitted that she is, in fact, an alcoholic, and was noted to be drunk as early as the age of 14. Not only that, but she has recently confessed to trying cocaine. I haven’t even touched the heavy partying that Conner has been alleged to have participated in.
Miss Nevada Katie Rees is another beauty queen who lost her title after photos documenting her inappropriate behavior with other women were released. And last but certainly not least is former Miss New Jersey, 20-year-old Ashley Harder, who relinquished her crown after she revealed that she was pregnant.
This sudden increase in beauty pageant scandals comes as no surprise in a world where perfection is required. In the eyes of the audience, pageant contestants should represent all of the values and ideals dear to America.
This may sound innocent enough, but the reality is there is nothing innocent about the competition. Contestants must be practically perfect in every way possible. The girls must be physically fit, intelligent, beautiful, can have no record of any immoral or illegal acts and desire for nothing more than world peace.
With such high expectations it is no wonder that beauty pageant contestants are drawn to everything that the pageant is not. I mean, who could live up to that without wanting to break the rules even once? Most contestants already cheat when it comes to physical appearance, because it is a lot of hard work to keep oneself in tip-top shape.
Contestants are constantly watched during the competition to make sure they don’t do anything wrong, either. How would you like to live with someone constantly looking over your shoulder? Always being forced to play on the safe side makes things like drinking seem appealing.
While it is seriously disappointing to see the women of the Miss USA beauty pageant exposed for conducting themselves poorly in public, its not as though young women across the United States aren’t doing the same thing. This does not make what Conner, Rees or Harder did any better; it just proves that beauty contests are outdated and need to be put to rest.
Elizabeth Rico is a fourth-year English major.
Filed Under: Opinion