In praise of Gray’s anatomy
When Catriona Gray won Miss Universe for 2018, I took a passing glance at the TV, turned it off, and went to bed.
I did not have any strong feelings about her winning, and I guess this wry shrug of a reaction would apply even if she had lost. I thought Catriona was gorgeous and probably deserved to win, but when I look at all women in all beauty pageants they all have the same cookie-cutter look: the walk, the gown, the sexy shoes, the crying, the same cloying smile they need to sustain for three hours.
There was one contestant who, I was surprised, spoke seemingly unscripted. When asked by emcee Steve Harvey how she was, the contestant replied, “I’m hungry.” Breath of fresh air!
My indifference toward beauty contests has to do with the classicism and sexism it promotes, a robot-like culture where women do things in identical ways and are rewarded for it. Pageants are like sausage factories that produce women with size 26 waists and 5’7” heights and shiny, bouncy hair. It’s OK to celebrate perfect-looking human forms, but to bombard us, especially young girls, with images of unrealistic standards of perfection is not OK.
That’s what beauty contests do. They celebrate physical attributes and not so much a woman’s smarts, kind heart, sense of independence, work ethics, etc. (I know, you can only learn so much in 3 hours)
Countries like Venezuela have spawned cottage industries, such as modeling schools and stores that sell glittery gowns, in support of its burgeoning beauty industry. In the Philippines, cosmetic dermatology and whitening creams are robust businesses. Just like the spectator sport of boxing for men, beauty pageants have become a parade out of poverty for women in some countries. There are other ways of making a livelihood, but becoming a beauty queen is short-cutting the process.
At least “Miss Congeniality” knows martial arts and can protect herself. Remember Sandra Bullock’s “If I only had a brain!”
Catriona Gray, who is the fourth Miss Universe from the Philippines after Gloria Diaz (1969), Margie Moran (1973) and Pia Wurtzbach (2015) – is being touted as a different kind of pageant winner. She is said to be a combination of beauty and social conscience, helping the scavenging children of Tondo through the nonprofit called Young Focus Foundation.
I visited the website of Young Focus Philippines. I learned it’s been around 10 years, and has been providing education, food, and community skills to the youth from contributions of $30 a month. It appears to be a worthy program.
Lending her name to YFF has called attention to the good that the organization does. Here’s hoping this partnership is for real and not a PR gimmick to buttress this notion beauty queens love to proclaim as “beauty with a purpose.”