The Terrifying Effects of Beauty Pageants | Teen Ink

The Terrifying Effects of Beauty Pageants

June 8, 2021
By SophieIB BRONZE, Nairobi, Other
SophieIB BRONZE, Nairobi, Other
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Beauty pageants. The idea of getting all dolled up for others to brutally judge based on your outward beauty. Watch any video that documents these contests and see for yourself how it’s all fake smiles and glittery dresses. It encourages an unhealthy fixation on physical appearance, weight, and the overall idea that it is ok to judge someone based on just their appearance; not their character as a whole. Too short, too tall, too big, too small, in the beauty industry, women can never win.

Beauty pageants have been around for a long time. In fact, it’s been around for over 100 years. The first ‘modern’ beauty pageant can be traced back to the 1850s, but beauty pageants didn’t grow in popularity until around 70 years later, in the 1920s. They seemed to become more and more popular as time went on; which also increased the mentality that it promoted along with it. 

The exploitation of these women's physical appearances is blatant. According to Pageant Planet, runway, interviews, evening gowns, and even swimsuits can make up one-third of your entire score. This is broadcasted to the entire world, meaning all sorts of people are going to see you walking around in a skimpy dress or a revealing bathing suit. Many beauty pageants have specific height and weight requirements to even enter as well. Another statistic from Pageant Planet shows that around 67 percent of all contestants who win on Miss USA are between 5’7 to 5’9; making those who even wish to participate in the first place feel as though they are not as “attractive” as those who fit the criteria and as a whole lowering their self-worth. Those who want to win may push their body to extremes to come out on top. 

Unhealthy dieting and going under the knife can be common effects of those who participate. Have you ever noticed how many pageant winners all seem to have that same look to them? Take a look at the Miss Teen USA finalists for one year as an example, who were all condemned for “looking the same”, with blue eyes, blonde hair, and pale skin. The lack of diversity for these contests is also shown through stories like these.

It is not only the physical aspects of women that are changed and damaged through beauty pageants but their mental health as well. Anyone who loses a contest based on beauty is bound to have self-confidence issues. The beauty standards it promotes and the competitiveness gives way to jealousy between contestants and self-esteem issues. These ideals lead to even deeper issues such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety issues, and even more mental health issues that could affect many long-term. Around 46.4 percent of adults in the United States struggle with mental health at some point in their life. That’s almost half of all adults in the country. If we want to reduce the number of people struggling with mental health, beauty pageants may be one way to start.

Although, many may argue that beauty pageants can actually boost your confidence and give you a way to express yourself through the competitions; such as with the talent portion of competitions giving you a way to show your true talents to the world or the ability to dress up in elegant outfits and feel pretty. Although this could be true, it’s clear that many of the cons outweigh the pros in the long run, and you would be better off trying another type of hobby as your outlets, such as sports for the competitive aspect or art and fashion designing for those who are creative. We should encourage people to express themselves more through their talents and interests, not through their bodies.

In reality, attractiveness and beauty are very subjective and can vary greatly depending on where you live. You may be beautiful in one country and considered ugly in another. This is why it’s impossible to fit beauty standards, as there are just too many that clash. You’re better off not trying to make yourself look pretty for others, and instead focus on yourself and your inner beauty, which comes through hobbies, personality, and your overall self.

With mental health issue rates increasing worldwide, now is a better time than ever to step up and put a stop to these outdated practices of narrowing women down to objects of beauty. The thought that physical beauty and appearances are more important than your inner beauty is a damaging idea that is constantly pushed on to the women who participate and to the wider audience who witness it. We women today should focus on improving ourselves through education, making the world a better place, and becoming strong individuals. Not displaying ourselves in an objectifying way. 


The author's comments:

As an advocate for female rights and gender equality, I felt as though I had to speak up about the issues that surround beauty pageants, as well as what they may potentially promote. I tried to display this as best as possible in this article.


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This article has 2 comments.


on Jul. 4 at 8:42 am
CrazyCatLady6 GOLD, New Radnor, Other
16 articles 0 photos 102 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There would be no shadows if the sun were not shining"

When I was growing up, there were loads of pageants, and girls were encouraged to show- off. But it was very damaging, and it made me and a lot of my friends feel inadequate. The first beauty pageant I was taken to, I was 5 years old. The last one I went to I was 8 years old. And even though I live in a different village now, with a more diverse group of friends, it is quite difficult to shake the habit of thinking that you aren't good enough, and I think pageants aren't seen for how damaging they can be.
Thanks so much for writing this! :)

avegrace GOLD said...
on Jul. 3 at 3:32 pm
avegrace GOLD, Cypress, Texas
18 articles 14 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
Psalm 82:3

I’ve been in tons of pageants & very few are objectifying. Most of it is personality, and revealing pageant outfits are heavily frowned upon.