Pageants encourage women to conform to society’s standards

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I am all for women being happy to show off their bodies, but they shouldn’t have to starve themselves in hope to win a beauty competition.

We no longer call pageants “beauty pageants,” but the women competing in pageants almost always are gorgeous, fit women. I know that if someone asked me to compete in a beauty pageant I would be hesitant because of the high bar set by all of the flawless women you regularly see competing. 

A Johns Hopkins school of Public Health study found that more than half of Miss Americas since 1970 have had a Body Mass Index below 18.5. This makes them undernourished, according to World Health Organization criteria that define BMIs between 20 and 25 as normal. Pageants, even the ones at Dixie State University, are encouraging women to fit the perfect standard expected from pageant organizations in order to take home a crown.

Even though I wouldn’t say DSU’s pageants are on par with Miss America, they still base a woman’s value on her appearance.

In Miss Dixie, DSU’s Miss America Organization preliminary pageant, women often work for months, or even years to make their way to the top. The women in Miss Dixie usually have nearly flawless talents, like singing, dancing and playing instruments, and many of the contestants comment on how restricted their lifestyles are when preparing for pageants because of the beauty standards. The Miss Dixie judges are also always pageant professionals. If women were to behave like the men in the Mr. Dixie pageant, which is a mock pageant where guys compete solely to humor the audience, I doubt the judges would take them seriously. 

The D-Queen pageant, which is part of DSU’s D-Week, is the second pageant offered for female students at DSU. Unlike Miss Dixie, there is no age or martial status requirement and no swimsuit competition needed to compete. 

The D-Queen pageant only has 35 percent of the contestants total score based on on-stage performances — where the usual beauty judging takes place. Even though the D-Queen pageant isn’t as serious as Miss Dixie, the winner almost always seems to be a beautiful, fit woman.

Although DSU offers a less serious pageant for female students, DSU still needs to acknowledge their appeal to tradition and work to make the pageants more friendly for all women — not just the ones who fit society’s beauty standards.