What does it mean to you?

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- Neha Pokharel

Apr 30, 2018-

In the wake of Miss Nepal pageants throughout the years, two points are seemingly constant. The first pertains to participants calling the pageants a desirable platform, and second is the Q&A round on the very relevant subject of women empowerment. So it doesn’t appear entirely fitting that participants on said platforms are not seriously utilising live prime time by talking about their own struggles as women and sharing with numerous people, especially the young girls who are watching, the challenges that women regularly face, thus reminding them that they are not alone. This is hardly an overwhelming expectation; excuses of the candid nature of the pageant round do not apply here. The message is in realising the strength of personal storytelling, and this realisation should ideally settle in much before one embarks on the journey of the pageant. 

As for challenges, there are many. They range from women being patronised for their opinions during both formal and informal debates and being told what they should and shouldn’t do, and young girls being unable to deny the advancements of men for fear of consequences—such fears range from character assassination, to bodily harm, to the shudder inducing, “But I didn’t want to appear rude” claim I hear from so many young girls. Unfortunately the list doesn’t stop here because the examples above are addressing girls with somewhat normal, even privileged lives. What then about women who are further subjugated by unreasonable societal standards, domestic violence, sexual orientation, gender norms, ethnicity, trafficking, sex-workers struggling for dignity, and women locked up by abusive forces. Even further, there are stigmas attached to premarital pregnant woman, divorced women, menstruating women, working women, unmarried women, housewives, outspoken women, demure women, women who dress a certain way, and the list goes on. 

The above by no means intends to demean the institution of beauty pageants, nor is it attacking courageous woman who participate in them. Despite otherworldly flaws of beauty pageants, they have captivated men and women for years. They are what they claim, a celebration of beautiful women inside and out who are the epitome of grace, and through whom important societal messages were later expected to be conveyed. Beauty pageants are evolving and we ought to encourage their transformation into all-rounded and fair establishments. What this is, is a commentary of missed opportunities. It is hard to capture the attention of young people who need these messages the most in the non-glossy pages of newspapers. As a result, the social responsibility of cutting through certain moulds end up transferring to events such as beauty pageants. 

 

Published: 30-04-2018 06:41

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