Beauty Contest: What Good It Brings to Woman?

The history of the beauty contest is not clearly known to me. Who, where and when it started is unknown, but the common belief is that the beauty contest started some 60-70 years back in the West. Later some elements started to organize such beauty contests in the East, particularly in India and Japan. Of the total 60 Muslim countries, a few hold such contests against the age-old culture, custom, tradition and value system. In some countries the government is patronizing such beauty contests and in others individuals and private organizations arrange such contests. Never such contests were ever organized in Bangladesh. Strangely, some people are now trying to organize such beauty contests against the deep-rooted faith, ethics and norms of the majority people of our country. The government of Bangladesh did not allow organizing such functions in the country and therefore the people who are active to raze the basic elements of the culture of Bangladesh, a predominantly Muslim country, in the name of globalization and modernism, organized a beauty contest in London some time back and selected a girl who later participated in the world contest. Of late, some people are organizing beauty contest in Bangladesh in the name and cover of fashion show.

The most pertinent question is: does beauty contest enhance the prestige and dignity of the womenfolk of our country or is it in any way related with the development of the country’s economy? In the beauty contest, the participating women are scantily dressed, are mostly required to expose their body and beauty before the male judges walking in the most offensive and distasteful manner. Does it in any way increase respect of the women? In fact, the uncovered body of woman brings disgrace for her. Historically all noble ladies even in the West until now were dressed in the most dignified manner. In fact such half clothed women become an object of commercial display and turn into the easy prey of the lust of the males.

The question is: why beauty contest of the woman is being organized when no beauty contest is planned to select the most beautiful man? In fact a section of business community organizes beauty contest of the women to use them for commercial purposes for which women, our sisters and mothers, are disgraced. The beauty contests excite male members of the society. This is true not only in the matter of beauty contest, any obscene, offensive and vulgar programme involving women is bound to incite male members. Such programmes are responsible for the moral degeneration of our youth. The root cause of the increase of the rape, violence and crime related to women are the spread of obscenity in the society. The beauty contest therefore in no way increase prestige, honour, dignity, safety and security of the women rather women lose respect, and their security is further endangered.

Does the beauty contest in any way contribute to the economic development? No empirical study or survey has ever established that beauty contest some way or other has played any constructive  or significant role for the progress and development of any country. There is no logic behind the claim of some persons that such beauty contest directly or indirectly contribute in the economic stride and progress of any society. Beauty contest has in no meaningful way made any contribution in the increase of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or the national income. Some good-looking women who won in the beauty contest later joined the advertisement industry as model. This might some way financially benefit them personally. The joining of some pretty women in the commercial and advertisement industry might have increased the demand of certain product, soap, paste etc in the market but this increase takes place mostly at the expense or reduction of sale of some other soaps, paste etc of other companies. This however does not as a whole increase the GDP. Moreover products are sold because of the quality, not because of the fair looking models or due to their physical posture. Some tourists of foreign countries might come to visit a particular country for a day or two, but this is very insignificant and does not carry any weight or credence. Such beauty contest, for sure, has no value in terms of the economic activity of a country or benefit the tourist industry on a long term basis..

What is the reaction of the women concerning the beauty contest? In this regard let us see the article by Hasina Habib, a student of BUET who in an article published in the daily Inqilab on 2nd April 2002 captioned ‘Beauty Contest Vis A Vis Art’  writes:

“BTV broadcasted a programme of beauty contest on 3rd April. The commentator during the presentation ceremony of the programme on several occasions commented that these beautiful ladies are the assets of the country. On what consideration these pretty ladies are the assets of the country? Earning forex by showing and screening beauty cannot be a prestigious profession or an aesthetic art. On what reckoning then the participants of beauty contest can be asset, when such contest in itself is not honourable? The questions that were put forward to the participants of the contest to ascertain the intelligence and the capacity for immediate response to quarry were not at all scholarly. Such questions were asked: To grow up is not an interesting matter, what do you think? What do you mean by hairstyle? … etc. How such hollow and meaningless questions can be the reflection of intelligence and wisdom?  The ultimate objective of the clothing is to cover up the body. Its aim is also to protect prestige, honour and the dignity of the individual personality. But in the presentation ceremony of the beauty contest as broadcast by the BTV the participant women were shown walking in such skin tight, bare and half naked way as if the purpose is to attract male members who are viewing. Such exposure of the body and beauty of the women is nothing but the wild expression of nakedness and offensive and indeed distasteful matter.  Most of the guests present in the beauty contest had been male and their expression was objectionable, unpleasant and obnoxious. The only exception was Endrew Kishore who was seen looking down bowing head by keeping his palm on the forehead.  Rest of the males were looking and observing this nude art (!) with their lustful eyes.  Does the definition of art or aesthetic beauty has changed into nudity and obscenity in the so-called modern life? How the exposure of the body of the women can be a sign of progress of the civilization? Why should we copy the negative and obscene elements of another culture leaving their positive elements? If nudity is considered a sign of progress then women one day will require becoming totally naked to increase the reserve of foreign exchange. In other words the loathsome and abhorrent male members will not spend money unless women expose them by becoming totally naked to earn money. It seems that in near future all people will become naked like the animal of jungles to keep pace with the development. 

Those who do not have the sense of self-esteem and dignity and do not mind in becoming naked in front of the male jury and their only objective is to earn money by exposing their body and beauty, what name we can give to the profession of such people?”

Hasina Habib rightly pointed out that beauty contest which lacks socio-economic, moral and ethical consideration cannot be an art in the esthetic sense or an asset for the majority of the people of Bangladesh who are believers of Islamic ideology and values. Needless to mention that the so-called beauty contest, which is against the ideology of Islam and its teachings, is also against the history, tradition and culture of Bangladesh. It is not in agreement with the values of other religious faiths. We therefore appeal to all the businessmen, industrialists and cultural organizers of our country to take immediate and effective steps to stop the recurrence of further beauty contests. Not only beauty contests, we also appeal to business magnets, industrialists and socio-cultural workers to ensure that nothing is done in the name of cultural activities which cause moral decadence and disgrace and humiliate women, our daughters, sisters and mothers. Our message to the organizers, leaders and members of the women right groups is that you be active to wipe out the root cause of violence from the society and the moral degeneration of our youth and events that are not the demonstration of the uplift of women in the society rather are the causes of shame and ignominy for the women. We also appeal to the government to keep watch so that some people working against our culture and value system cannot organize beauty contest in the cover and garb of fashion show or any other name. We all must do everything possible at our command before it exceeds all limits and before it is too late.