Recently while watching a beauty pageant, a colleague of mine in all seriousness remarked, “what a disgrace such contests are on women kind”. My curiosity to probe his, mind prompted me to oppose his view point as I always had a strong conviction about the very concept of these contests that is rightly captioned “Beauty with Brains”. The idea of skimpily clad contestants walking on the ramp in presence of the male audience was the target of his scathing attack. Knowing his religious bent of mind and staunch beliefs I saw no point in putting across my views and quietly backed out of the conversation. He went on to add that posing a few customary questions is neither a genuine yardstick to gauge intelligence nor being crowned qualifies the nominees as epitomes of beauty.

The gentleman’s remark did not come as a surprise to me. Of late, this issue has attracted a lot of media hype and was subject to severe criticism by many women’s organizations. These self proclaimed guardians of women’s dignity even took to the streets in protests, demanding that the event be banned. If people at the helm who deem themselves fit to protect the interest of women, can harbour wrong notions and misinterpret the motive behind the spectacle, then who would make a commoner understand?

It would not be fair to shun the perspective of these lobbyists as a sham. The crux of the problem lies in one’s perception. Thrusting individual opinion is no means to drive a point across, though a rational discussion may influence the thought process to see reason.

The most discerning feature is that our thoughts always border on the evil side and these negative images take precedence over the positive connotations. My colleague who took objection to women flaunting themselves in swimsuits is a case in point. On would applaud the guts of individuals who admit this fact rather than resorting to hypocrisy. But, such exemplary conscience is hard to come by, partly due to the pressure of conforming to the dual societal norms on morality. In fact, the coterie that projects a genuine concern for exploitation of women, enjoy leering at the fairer sex as objects of desire.

How easy it is to draw a line for demarcating permissible moral code of conduct from the illegitimate and label things as taboo when it comes to the family. Ask any respectable father of middle class lineage if he would allow his daughter to be a part of beauty pageants. Their answer will only be in the negative, but they would spare no occasion to turn around and ogle at others with disrespect. Those who cannot regard others with equal reverence and refrain from such voyeurism themselves, have no right to raise hue and cry over feminist causes and disguise their true self with pretence of piety. Only a serious resolve to mend their biased demeanor could add weight to their argument, else their justifications would turn out to be damp squib.

There are many teasers that keep cropping in our minds which remain unanswered and ultimately end up as misgivings. For instance, some tend to liken the participants with other women who they feel are at par or superior both in terms of intelligence and physical beauty but cannot afford to reach this platform to upstage others. This may be true but any sane entity would not toy with the idea of congregating all female species under one roof to vie for the crown. Others, who would shudder at the thought of facing an interactive session are critical about this exercise and mix it up with evaluation of one’s intellect without realizing that this is just a measure of spontaneity. Moreover it is just not the facial charm, the vital statistics or intelligence quotient that is singly put to test. Rather it is a blend of these determinants that forms the criteria of selection and an embodiment of these aspects truly represents a complete personality.

How different the scenario would be if we focus on the contributions made by the winners, right from working on numerous social causes by raising funds and garnering support of the masses to rally behind these issues, representing their countries as ambassadors to being role models of millions of aspiring people. It’s high time we start making efforts to broaden our vision and take a peek at things in proper light.

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