I’ve been studying for my English Composition CLEP Test by picking a topic from a list and writing an essay off of that topic, so I though I would post some here as I wrote them. The facts are all made up, as the test doesn’t care so much about facts as it does how you support your views and your essay structure. Anyway…
The beauty pageant as an event has become a popular competitive activity since its start in the early 1900’s. Women from all over the world have entered themselves in beauty pageants, and even the parents of pretty young ladies have given their daughters the opportunity to participate. The competition can be fierce, with hundreds of women presenting themselves before the judges in the hopes of being named “Miss California” or “Miss America” as a reward for their good looks. But while a casual observer might find beauty pageants a seemingly harmless activity, others have raised concerns about the effect of these events on average Americans, and even on the participants themselves. Is there a negative physiological effect to beauty pageant observers? Who do the pageants effect? What effect do these competitions have on the participants?
Being named beauty of the year out of a myriad of other women can be quite a boost to ones self-esteem, and having a positive view of oneself can encourage you to use your new found fame to promote causes that are important to you. In fact, numerous beauty pageant winners have gone on to use their fame to do just that. 2009’s winner of the Washington State Beauty Gala, Edith Odriew, went on to promote the Society For Inept Students by starring in their TV commercials. Sally Taf, winner of the National Beauty Contest, used her fame to get into a reality TV show, and from there encouraged young ladies to pursue their dreams. For both of these winners, their boosted self-esteem opened new doors for them, allowing them to expand their horizons and be a role model for others.
With all the media coverage that most beauty pageants have, it is inevitable that the winners, and even the runner-ups, build a fan base. Not surprisingly, while a good percentage of beauty pageant watchers are men between the ages of 20 and 35, statistics have shown that the majority of pageant followers are girls between the age of 10 and 17, a highly impressionable age. This provides a tremendous opportunity for the pageant winners to be good role models for young female fans. Unfortunately, while many winners have put their influence to good use, many others have squandered the opportunity, choosing instead to use their fame to pursue whatever catches their fancy. While some end up on a socially acceptable path, others have fallen under pressure and taken up drug use or other negative activities. This can send a confusing message to young fans looking for someone to imitate in life. But while even a beauty pageant winner that is a good role model can benefit young fans, there is another point to consider about the effects of beauty pageants.
The constant barrage of faces that are lauded as “beautiful” or “gorgeous” during a beauty pageant may be nice to look at, but it sets a standard of beauty that is limited and harmful to the populace in general. This limited view of beauty can be harmful to young women, causing them to become discouraged when they can’t fit themselves into that particular category of good looks. This discouragement can often be unfounded, as while they may not be beautiful according to beauty pageants, their own unique beauty sets them in a class all by themselves. Not only might young women be affected by this limited view of beauty, but young men might also be deceived into setting a high and unnecessary standard of female beauty that limits them in their quest for a partner. Sadly, these side effects of beauty pageants have had quite an effect on the population; in fact, a study done in 2008 asking females between the age of 15 and 25 if they thought they were beautiful or not, showed that more than 70% of them said they would not call themselves beautiful. This doubt of one’s beauty by a large sample of the female population, and the unnecessary standards set by many males, seems to be a unfortunate side effect of beauty pageants and their limited scope.
With the beauty pageant being such a well know event that has branched out into many parts of society, the effects of this event should now be apparent amongst the general populace. While there is no doubt that these pageants have opened doors for some women, allowing them to use their influence to provide good role models and promote causes they support, the sometimes little noticed side effects often have a greater effect. It seems to me that the narrow minded standards of beauty set by beauty pageants is harmful to society in general, and not worth the small accomplishments that come out of a beauty pageant.