Transsexual Beauty Contest

Beauty contest

A beauty contest, or beauty pageant, is a competition based mainly, though not always entirely, on the physical beauty of its contestants, and often incorporating personality, talent demonstration, and question responses as judged criteria. Almost invariably, competitions for men and women are separate events, and those for men are not referred to as beauty contests. Beauty contests for women are more common, and winners are called beauty queens. Beauty contests for men, like Mr. Universe, are more likely to be "body building" contests—quite unlike the traditional "beauty contest" in which women are judged upon many attributes both physical and otherwise. However, in the 1990s, male "beauty contests" began to shift focus. Instead of only considering muscle mass, the competitions began to judge the natural physical attributes of the contestants as well as their physiques. These include Mr. World and Manhunt International.

There are also beauty contests for children. These events are often controversial, particularly when children are dressed provocatively and described in adult terms.

History of beauty contests

Choosing symbolic kings and queens for May Day and other festivities is an ancient custom in Europe in which beautiful young women symbolize their nation's virtues and other abstract ideas. The first modern American pageant was staged by P. T. Barnum in 1854, but his beauty contest was closed down by public protest—he previously held dog, baby, and bird beauty contests. He substituted daguerreotypes for judging, a practice quickly adopted by newspapers. Newspapers held photo beauty contests for many decades: In 1880, the first “Bathing Beauty Pageant" took place as part of a summer festival to promote business in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Contests became a regular part of summer beach life, with the most elaborate contest taking place in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where the “Fall Frolic” attracted women from many cities and towns.

The modern beauty pageant's origin is traceable to the Miss America Pageant, which was first held in Atlantic City in 1921, under the title "Inter-City Beauty Contest." The Miss America Pageant eventually included preliminary eliminations, an evening gown competition, musical variety shows, and judging by panel. Still, the contest was at first shunned by middle-class society. Pageants did not become respectable until World War II, when "beauty queens" were recruited to sell bonds and to entertain troops. Scholarships and talent competitions evoked even closer scrutiny of contestants’ morals and backgrounds. Other major contests include the yearly Miss World competition (founded by Eric Morley in 1951), Miss Universe (founded in 1952), Miss International (founded in 1960) and Miss Earth (founded in 2001 with environmental awareness as its concern), Miss Tourism Queen International (founded in 2004). These are considered the grand slam pageants, the five largest and most famous international beauty contests. Minor contests, such as the Miss Bondi contest in Australia, are common throughout the world in the summer months. During the 1950s, pageants thrived to promote county fairs and local products. For example, some of Raquel Welch's titles included "Miss Photogenic" and "Miss Contour." Across the world, women from around the world participate each year in local competitions for the chance to represent their country's international title.

Recently there has been a movement to the Internet Beauty Pageant format demonstrated by websites such as The Ultimate Beauty Queen, which aim to level the pageant playing field by allowing more variations in both contestants and judges. The organizers of the major beauty contests represent their contests as being events of world importance—and they are, in that they are viewed by over a billion people every year.

Commercial

Many trade associations have multi-tiered beauty contests which select queens as ceremonial representatives. The queen may appear at official receptions to present awards, to represent the industry in parades and festivals, to present consumer information to the public, or even to lobby for the industry. For example the South Carolina Watermelon Queen may do a tour of supermarkets with tastings of different varieties, or the North Dakota Honey Queen may tour to pass out recipes that feature honey. The queens are expected to be of high attractiveness, intelligence and character, and often gain scholarships for their year of service to the industry.

Criticism

Beauty contests attract significant controversy, particularly for how they present women. Many feminists regard beauty contests for women as "cattle markets", degrading to both viewer and contestant, which enforce society's objectification of women. Critics have particularly objected to swimsuit rounds, in which contestants wear only swimwear and high-heeled shoes. In addition, the common view of "beauty" in these pageants as represented exclusively by unusually thin women has been questioned. In response, Mo'Nique's Fat Chance, a beauty pageant for overweight women, has aired on the Oxygen network since 2005.

Many national 'Miss' pageants have come under heavy criticism and some have been the subjects of direct action. High-profile complaints were made against the Miss America contest in the late 1960s, and contests in Finland attracted controversy for requiring contestants to wear only lingerie, some of which was diaphanous enough to clearly display genitalia. Many of these contests were held in venues where inebriated males made grossly inappropriate comments and even sought bodily contact with the contestants. After one contestant refused to comply, public debate forced the organisers to abolish this requirement. However, the lingerie shows were reintroduced in 2007—initially with contestants wearing black bodysuits underneath the lingerie, but this was strongly disfavoured by those involved, and shows now compromise by having revealing daytime shows but using bodysuits for night shows, at which audiences are more often drunk and unruly.

Contests regularly attract demonstrators, particularly if they violate local religious or cultural practices. In Nigeria, for example, many Muslims viewed Western-style beauty contests as immoral, because the female participants are typically displaying their bodies in a way that can be considered degrading to women.

After the murder of JonBenét Ramsey in 1996, concerns have been raised about the propriety of beauty pageants for children, and the psychological effects they may have on young contestants. Critics see the "Little Miss..." genre as a possible lure for pedophiles, although there is little documented evidence of this. In reaction, there has been a surge in more age-appropriate pageants for children, without provocative costumes, flashy décor, and heavy makeup. HBO aired a documentary about child beauty pageants titled Living Dolls: The Making of a Child Beauty Queen in 2001, which won an Emmy. In 2006, the film, Little Miss Sunshine was released, portraying a dysfunctional family on a road trip taking the youngest member of the family to a beauty pageant. The film earned critical acclaim all over the world, earning plenty of awards and nominations, including four Academy Award nominations and winning two.

Partly because of this criticism, beauty contests have declined in popularity in the Western world since the 1960s—for example, the Miss New Zealand pageant is no longer televised, as public interest in it is too low. However, in some areas in which beauty contests were long discouraged, such as Eastern Europe and parts of Asia and Africa, they have flourished since the 1980s as restrictions were relaxed.

Selecting a "beauty queen"

Beauty pageants are generally multi-tiered, with local competitions feeding into the larger competitions. The worldwide pageants, thus, require hundreds, sometimes thousands, of local competitions. In the United States, there is now a commercial beauty pageant industry that organizes thousands of local and regional events for all ages for profit supported by magazines like The Crown Magazine and Pride of Pageantry, the online epiczine.com, the Pageant News Bureau (pageant.com), and The Crown Magazine, and a host of retailers of everything from tiaras to cosmetic surgery.

The typical perception of a beauty pageant is that it occurs once a year, has women of a petite frame, the event is live on stage, and that a talent is involved somehow. Particularly with the advent of the internet, this perception has changed drastically. Although they are not "live" internet and mail-in pageants have provided a plethora of entertainment to those who compete and an opportunity not available those unable or hesitant to travel.

Beauty Queens, or title holders, are chosen on many criteria. Each individual pageant will provide to prospective delegates its particular methods of competition and scoring. For example, The Worldwide Pageant has a unique scoring system wherein delegates have the potential of earning a score of 110%. The breakdown is 25% evening wear (may be pants or gown), 25% athletic wear, 50% personal interview, and an optional 10% for an achievement portfolio. Diamond Dolls is a photogenic only competition which provides 100% of the score based upon submission of required photos.

Size no longer is a limiting factor as many competitions espouse the goal of "natural" beauty. There are also more and more pageants such as Ms. Classic Beauty, which are dedicated to the "plus sized" delegate. Ms. Classic Beauty takes this one step further by devoting itself to "pageant plus." While a size 14-16 may be considered a traditional plus-size in the US, in the pageant world a size 6-8 may be considered as plus depending upon the pageant system. Ms. Classic Beauty takes this into consideration as well as the difference in size based upon height. Therefore, their criteria for inclusion is based upon size/ height ratios.

Although the selection of a Beauty Queen is thought to be an annual event, there are no hard and fast rules as to the frequency of selection. Pageants have also changed dates and frequency based upon the needs of the Organization. Take for instance, Miss America. For decades, Miss America was held during the fall with the pageant usually occurring in September. Recently, the date changed to January. This produced a term of greater than a year length for that Miss America.

On the other hand, some terms have been shortened due to needs of the Organization. For example, during its formative years, the Mrs. United Nation Pageant had several seasonal changes with some Queens holding a term of less than a year.

There are other pageants who take a totally different approach altogether. Particularly in reference to on-line photogenic pageants, there are competitions in which a winner is chosen on a monthly or even weekly basis. There are those who will take each of these as a "preliminary winner" with the intent upon a "final" competition at some later date. Others treat each of these as a "final" winner and provide a title.

Regardless of the method of competition, break down of scores or frequency of selection, all are defined as "entertainment in the form of a beauty pageant." It is up to the individual to determine which is best suited for competition or of particular entertainment interest.

See also

References

External links

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