Beauty ‘Con’tests

BY NIKITA MUKHERJEE

 A very prominent disconnect is prevalent between expectations and reality. However, this detachment seems to get wider and wider, when it comes to the likes of beauty pageants.  A dry spell for India, on such international platforms has been certified for over a decade now and very recently, another opportunity has also been lost.  The continuing tradition augments many questions in the minds of young Indian audience. Are our Indian lasses losing on their poise & prowess? Are they not well groomed to represent a cosmopolitan country like India? Or have the changing stratagems of these beauty pageants resulted in India arriving at such a standpoint.

The new shining glory at the Miss Universe this year, Leila Lopes quipped that she hopes her victory will allow her to assist her native Angola in escaping its history of war and impoverishment, and that she plans to focus on fighting HIV around the globe.  The quote though reasonably unambiguous, makes the prude in some of us question the redemptive nature of such pageants. The opportunity to highlight Leila’s troubles pertaining to her continent was grappled by every possible media channel. Call it an advertising tactic or the penetration of sponsors associated with these competitions to the third world countries, ‘gimmicks’ sums up these pageants. Pageants invariably are now thriving on a country’s economy, and ideally a developing economy. So few years back the focus was on India, owing to its illustrious position at the international market. Now, it is some other developing economy being solicited over by such authorities. India previously opened its gate for all multi-national corporations, making it an oasis in the desert of countries, thereby attracting travelers in terms of advertisers and sponsors. Now perhaps, some other country is in India’s shoes.

Scandals and controversies are no stranger to these beauty pageants.  It surfaces at every competition and makes rounds for a consistent period. Be it Vanessa William’s alleged nude pictures controversy in 1983, Miss India Universe Usnoshi Gupta’s ‘evening gown’ controversy in 2010 or the very recent Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes’ fake-documents controversy. The connection between these pageants and scandals are parallel and exclusively dependant.  These cases again bring the most clichéd question to the forefront. Are these pageants indeed rigged? Are these pageants through and though deceitful?

Maybe a similar question, if asked to the contestants in one of the final rounds of the pageant, could fetch us an answer.

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