And the Crown Goes To….

(On Pageants and Beauty)

“Elegance is the only beauty that never fades.”–Audrey Hepburn

Sunday, 16 May 2021 (EST) – The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was again made popular, not just for its bright lights but also for the Miss Universe pageant coronation, in which 74 candidates vied for the most coveted title of Miss Universe–as determined primarily by the judges–who will carry the role for a full year, including duties set forth to give “the crown” a certain social relevance in the current times. Inside the hall, the crowd was mostly of the elite (strictly invitational), who were dressed-up to the nines. The stage lights focused on the three remaining contestants, one of which would be declared the “most beautiful woman in the universe.

Universe, after all, in my opinion, is a misconception–as the organizers of the pageant perhaps envisioned that humans could reign over the whole solar system (as we know it) and beyond.

The winner of the Miss Universe 2021 title is Miss Mexico, Andrea Meza.

The Miss Universe pageant was formed in the United States and has been in movement since 1952. Year after year (among the participating countries), they find (and train) young and suitable (based on their set preferences) females who will represent their own country of origin to compete with each other on the basis of beauty, confidence, personality, sense of attractiveness, and wit.

Why does the notion of beauty seem boxed within a beauty pageant’s point of view?

Since the beginning of the so-called beauty pageant era, females from all walks of life have idolized and aspired for the beauty of their chosen candidate/titlist and tried to imitate them from hairstyle to footwear. This, based on research, has known advantages and disadvantages. Those who are affluent simply go to the salon for the same hairstyle, shopping for the same clothes, and even undergo plastic surgery just to look like them. Sadly, it would be the opposite for those who don’t have enough money. They are left staring towards the sky, only wishing for things to get better for them.

But this is not all. The effect on some females (for purposes of focus) are far worse than one could ever think of. There are those who suffer psychological torture because no matter what they do, they could not be like those pageant candidates. As a result, they degenerate; lose their self-confidence and self-worth; isolate themselves from others; and create their own little world which they alone could understand. Some resort to committing crimes; others to the extent of even taking their own lives.

Pageants have become part of many people’s everyday lives because, I believe, these people have gotten used to having it within the circulation and that, not having it would be an abnormality. I say it’s time for the experts in the field of Psychology to lend a thought or two on the presence of pageants and their effects on the citizenry in general, mostly those who patronize it.

The call of these pageants have always been “world peace.” However, after all these years, world peace has not been achieved.

Among participating countries, each candidate competing against each other is already considered a sign of disparity. Then what of the ones who lost? Are they now branded as not competitively beautiful? Based on history, how many of those losing candidates have taken their lives? How many of them have isolated themselves and became a recluse? How many of them have been rejected? How many became more insecure and bitter?

It is not fair to play on the lives of unsuspecting people for personal or corporate gain. Those pageants were created primarily to gain wealth, power, and popularity. Those poor souls who have been chosen to participate have been duped from the start, and they don’t even realize it because of all the fame, glamor, limelight, and lustre it carries.

What does it mean to be “beautiful?”

An old cliché would say, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” This would mean that each person would have different definitions or perception of beauty–which is actually good. Some who may not have developed a pretty face but possess a kind heart and good attitude are also beautiful. Those who seem to not have complete body parts and are considered differently abled, but are kind, confident, and friendly among others, are beautiful, too.

Human beings, in general, did not evolve equally. Some are too thin; some too short; others too tall; worse, some–as many people describe–ugly.

Overall, truthfully, one will find beauty in a person not just by focusing on the outer/physical appearance, but by looking beyond it. Remember, beauty is a notion that rests in our brains. People are beautiful because we are rational beings. We think and we reason (at least, most of us). Elegance is in the confidence, personality, attitude, mindset, and kindness that we have. That is the greater and more important kind of beauty. This is the beauty that we should dwell on, embrace, and celebrate.

*Currently working at the Philippine International Convention Center, where she began services 22 years ago, Kathryn Valladolid Ebrahim is an alumna of St. Scholastica’s College–Manila; she finished a degree in Bachelor of Arts, major in Sociology, at the University of Santó Tomás; drawing and writing are her primary avocations.