Beauty pageants provide quick way to feel ugly

The next time we have the strong urge to feel short, fat and ugly, we need only do one thing.

Former beauty queen Kumari Fulbright was Miss Pima County 2005/Tucson Citizen file photo

Former beauty queen Kumari Fulbright was Miss Pima County 2005/Tucson Citizen file photo of the infamous mug shot

Check out a beauty pageant.

Miss Rodeo Arizona is coming up this month. Miss Asia Arizona is now accepting applications.

Others scheduled throughout the state include Miss Arizona Dream Girls USA Pageant, Darling Dolls of America Mini Nationals Pageant, and the compellingly entitled Angels of Light Beauty Pageant.

The only interesting things that ever come of beauty pageants is either when scandals erupt about a reigning queen or a former beauty contestant goes terribly wrong. We shake our heads at the tragedy.

Miss Pima County 2005 Kumari Fulbright ended up allegedly caught up in a scheme that involved kidnapping her ex-boyfriend – and a downward spiral of meth.

The horror, the horror.

To be fair, some of the contests, like Miss Rodeo Arizona, are not billed as beauty pageants at all. Rather than necessarily represent the fairest of them all, Miss Rodeo is looking for someone who “symbolizes the youth of Arizona who wish to further promote the sport of rodeo and our western heritage.”

Past Miss Arizona contest/Tucson Citizen file photo

Past Miss Arizona contest/file photo

But please note we’ve never seen an ugly Miss Rodeo.

Trying to standardize ugly – or beauty – and then brainwashing folks to believe those false standards is one big problem with the pageants.

Another is the severe entry requirements. We’ll use Miss Asia Arizona as an example since I was sent not one, but two, press releases this week touting the contest. Contestants, of course, must be Asian. At least one-quarter, to be exact. OK, we understand that requirement.

But the contestants must also be between the ages of 17 and 27, a female from birth, single and never married or pregnant.

This sends the message that not only are we ugly if our noses or buttocks are too big, but we won’t even get into the running if we happen to be an ancient 28 years old or older. We are also less attractive, it tells us, if we experienced the joy of childbirth or fell in love and decided to wed.

We’ll leave the “female from birth” requirement alone.

At least adults have a choice to willingly enter the pageants or not.

JonBenet Ramsey/file photo

JonBenet Ramsey/file photo

Beauty pageants for kids are even worse. There’s no quicker or crueler way to ruin a child’s self-esteem than to stick him or her on a stage full of other cherubic youngsters and then judge them.

If the child loses, she is crushed for life. If she wins, you’ve got yourself a little diva who will likely grow up thinking its OK to barge to the front of the supermarket line or cut off other motorists in traffic.

The only way to win is not to enter in the first place.

These pageants aren’t cheap, either. Miss Rodeo Arizona has to pay all her expenses as she spends her reigning year traveling the country and promoting rodeo. She even has to buy her own hats and boots.

Costs for entering the contests may include travel, gowns, bikinis, voice coaches, personal trainers, liposuction, lingerie, a nose job and all those books gals pile on their heads to make sure they walk with their back straight.

Think of all the animals that could be housed or people that could be fed if folks put money towards helping others instead of those nose jobs.

Each person is beautiful in her or his own way, even if the person doesn’t fit the standardized body measurements or preferred nose size.

Well, except for those who go down the road of kidnapping schemes and meth.



Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who never entered a beauty contest but once tied for first place in a suicidal poetry contest. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at and E-mail

wb-logolilWhat do you think?

Have you ever entered a beauty contest? Did you win?

What’s the most ridiculous pageant you’ve seen?

Are beauty pageants a worthwhile past time or a pestilence on our society? Please explain.


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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26 Responses to Beauty pageants provide quick way to feel ugly

  1. leftfield says:

    The early feminists spent a great deal of time and effort trying to spread understanding and awareness of the emptiness of these rituals and the damage done by them.  While they languished for some time after, it seems they have made a comeback of sorts in recent years.  I am surprised and confused by their persistence.  Not only do they promote false standards of beauty, they also promote certain false and damaging cultural standards (e.g. women’s political opinions should be non-offensive to the prevailing zeitgeist).  How do we explain the enduring popularity of beauty pageants? 

    dunno there

    • Rynski says:

      hiya leftfield,
      while i was writing this i, too, was wondering why the dang things are still so popular. my theory is MONEY. these contests are huge moneymakers. this helps explain why they are still being offered.
      why women are still entering them?
      i’m with you on that one: dunno!

  2. Carolyn Classen says:

    Former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin alluded to her beauty pageant days when she spoke here recently.  From wikipedia: “In 1984, she won the Miss Wasilla pageant.She finished third in the Miss Alaska pageant, playing flute in the talent portion of the contest, and receiving both the Miss Congeniality award and a college scholarship.”

    • Rynski says:

      sad when the top things on your resume are placing and/or winning in beauty pageants. also bet there is not a lot of competition in good ole wasilla.

      • azmouse says:

        I like Sarah Palin!!
        I also think Govenor and former vice presidetial running mate are better things for her to put on her resume! 🙂

      • Rynski says:

        yeah, i’d say even gas station attendant (which i was once!) is a better resume entry than beauty pageant winner – hahah

      • azmouse says:

        Hey, there’s nothing wrong with any of them…we do what we got too, I suppose. I used to waitress in a topless bar many years ago as a second job. I made more doing that than my ‘real job’. HA!

        I’m not a lover of pageants, I think it’s all silly. I just try really hard to never judge people on the decisions they make for what ever reasons they have.

        Now the kid pageants are where I get freaked out…they have no choice.

  3. leftfield says:

    Here are some excerpts from a Housekeeping Monthly article ,  “The Good Wife’s Guide”, published in 1955.  I think these are illustrative of the kind of standards of thinking that rituals like beauty pageants helped to maintain.

    A good wife always knows her place.

    You have no right to question him.

    Remember – his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

    I think that the younger generation of women is largely unaware of the degree of oppression an older generation struggled with.  Beauty pageants were a piece of the puzzle that maintained this oppression.

    • Rynski says:

      sick, twisted, disgusting…and oh too true.
      some magazines i read do flashbacks to what content was like 30, 40, 50 years ago and it’s along the same lines. ‘how to be a good housewife,’ ‘how not to burn the roast beef.’
      what’s even scarier is they also quote from some CURRENT men’s magazines that have similar articles trying to put women ‘in their place.’ the women’s mags feature such content as ‘dumb advice men are getting.’
      i am surprised that such struggles could be unknown and/or forgotten by younger generation. then again, we are, as a society, moving back into the dark ages anyway….hahahahha

  4. azmouse says:

    I wonder how long guys would put up with being strutted around a stage and expected to answer silly questions all with a big smiling and telling their measurements.

    I really don’t have a problem with adults doing what they want to do. The kid thing is just plain weird….

    • Rynski says:

      guys would NOT put up with it for a millisecond – although i did find a slate of ‘womenless pageants’ for cross dressers while doing my research here, there is no equivalent.
      muscle men contests? but even with those they don’t have to smile and answer silly questions, tho…

      • azmouse says:

        Yeah, I thought about the muscle guys too. And yes, I also doubt they are made to feel like they need a penis implant (as with the women and their breast implants)

        Beauty pageants are here, and I like to think of women as smart and empowered. Would I have ever done one (if I could), no. Do I care if someone else does…no.
        I think they’re silly and it wouldn’t be my way of trying to get ahead or better myself, but I wouldn’t think less of someone I knew doing that if that’s what they chose to do.

    • Ferraribubba says:

      Hey azmouse:  Although I never actually met them in person, I never heard of either Johnny Wadd or Long Dong Silver conplain about telling (or showing, for that matter) their measurements when asked.
      And when my Cuz Bob owned his topless bar in Los Angeles back in the 1970’s-’90s, his dancers were more than satisfied with the $12.00 per hour (plus tips) that they made.
      We are talking about adults here, not breaking any laws that are on the books.
      Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

      • azmouse says:

        I agree…like I said, they’re adults and can make their own decisions…I’m relatively neutral on the matter, although they can be silly. I’m really only familiar with the Miss Universe that the one that they show on tv? Never been to a Miss Tucson or Miss Rodeo, or any pageant.

      • leftfield says:

        Yes, the adult contestants are free to make their own decisions about participating and no one forces adults to participate as a contestant or a viewer.  None of these facts renders these contests harmless, either to the participant or society as a whole.  Instruments of oppression are often very subtle and seemingly a part of the cultural background.  Not all are as obvious in construct and effect as a billy club or a miscegenation law.

  5. vegasallen says:

    leftfield- Please provide a link to prove you’re not lying.

  6. Ferraribubba says:

    Sally Todd was a Miss Tucson years ago and became a ‘B’ actress in Hollywood.
    She was a friend of Peter Lawford, the brother-in-law of President John F. Kennedy, and became a ‘very close friend’  of our beloved young President, along with Marilyn  Monrore and several other Hollywood starlets. <g>
    So there are advantages to becoming Miss Tucson, if you are savy enough to play your assets right. Look it up.
    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

    • leftfield says:

      FB, I fail to see why this is an endorsement of beauty contests.  Neither working in Hollywood or being a “friend” of the rich and famous seem like much to me.  Besides, your comment about playing your assets right is exactly the sort of attitude these contests promote.  The notion that a woman’s “assets” lie primarily in her attractiveness to wealthy/powerful men is just demeaning to human beings of both genders. 

  7. kevinp says:

    I can watch football, and not feel inferior just because I can’t run a 4.2 40 yard dash….I can watch Basketball and not feel inferior just because I don’t have a 38 inch vertical jump……
    Why can’t chix watch beauty pageants and not feel inferior(threatened, pressured, idk?) by the contestants just because they are “beautiful” ?
    I don’t get the negative connotation.
    It’s OK to strive to be good at sports, or strive to be perceived as an “intelluectual”, but definitely NOT OK to be recognized for your physical appearance?
    Sounds like women are creating their own double standard to me.

    • azmouse says:

      hello kevinp,
      I see your point.
      Most guys I know don’t see the shirtless guy in the Old Spice commercial (Look at me, now look at your man.Now look back at me now back at your man. Your man can’t look like me, but he can smell like me) and want to look like him or be him.

      I believe young girls and women do that…when I was 12 I wanted to look like Brooke Shields, but I was 12.
       I hope as parents of future and current women our daughters have enough self-esteem that it’s better to be a cool person than to worry about a little cellulite on your butt or what color to dye your hair to bring out your eyes.

  8. vegasallen says:

    Well leftfield, apparently you just made up stuff and tried to present it as fact. I’m not surprised.

    • leftfield says:

      The magazine article was published in 1955.  I don’t know if anyone went back and archived old issues of this magazine, so it may not be available online.  Anyway, are you saying you believe it too outrageous to be true?  Ask your mama.

  9. Ferraribubba says:

    Hey Vegas: If Lefty heard it at one of his classes at Patrice Lamumba University it must be true. Right, oh Left Leaning One?
    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

  10. Yikes! That is scary! I had a girl friend growing up who entered in the Miss Washington pagent. She didn’t win but it was a good experience. I think you have to just want to enjoy it. If you win great. If not so what.

    • Rynski says:

      glad to hear your former girlfriend had a positive and learning experience – and thanks for reminder that so much in life is about the attitude!

  11. mgrieve says:

    It’s very unfortunate that exceptions are so commonly the focus of many.  Compartmentalization is a great way to lump people together through association. I’d challenge anyone who reads this article (author included) to take a step back and look at the opposite end of the spectrum you are chastising. I competed for rodeo queen titles, including at the national level, and truly credit the experience to strengthening my values and providing countless opportunities.  Not only was I fortunate to represent the way of life I love so dearly but my best friends were also made through my rodeo queen experiences.  I also challenge anyone who thinks pageants are a joke to enter one yourself and see what can be gained from internal and external competition as well as intense preparation.  So, put down the remote and stop watching the crazy pageant moms.  Just so happens… High concentrations of intelligent, well-rounded, wonderful women come out pageant programs.  ESPECIALLY cowgirls!!!

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