The new mini-trend in more naturalistic beauty pageants is being bucked by "Miss Plastic Hungary" - in which only the surgically enhanced need apply.
"Ever had plastic surgery to become beautiful? Are you proud of your body? Would you like to put yourself to the test?" asks the pageant's website. The competition, which has already attracted 100 entrants, is open to women 18-30 - although there is an older "dame" category, too - as long as they've had "a surgical procedure done under general or local anesthesia."
The pageant, according to its founders (via Reuters), seeks to, ahem, destigmatize cosmetic enhancement which, despite its increasing affordability and popularity, still gets a bad rap. Says its press director, "Unfortunately, people in Hungary are still rather negative about ladies who have had (cosmetic) surgery and there are also a lot of stereotypes going about...We are not seeking to promote extremely large breasts and the like." She adds, "The whole thing is about harmony, that's what the contest seeks to emphasize...Let's not forget that there are ladies who have had new perspectives open up for them thanks to plastic surgery, who could get rid of their complexes with an operation and can now have a more complete life."
Well, uh, sure. Whatever floats your boat. And I guess as long as we're promoting unnatural standards of beauty, there's a lot to be said for admitting they're...artificial. Maybe it makes more sense than the nudge-wink wholesomeness of the typical American varietal. Is it less offensive to find someone's taste wanting than her genetics? And if these women are indeed facing discrimination - I'll admit, something I'd never really considered - then I guess anything that encourages choosing your choices is good?
But, of course, more pageants aren't exactly the way most of us see aesthetic relativism triumphing; objectifying other kinds of figures has never really been the thinking woman's preferred alternative. And what amounts to the promotion of plastic surgery (obviously a lucrative source of money and tourism) - and heralding it as a road to "a more complete life" - isn't really how we see women feeling more confident about their "complexes." It's not like they're making us comfortable with a new aesthetic, after all.
But maybe there's something to be said for cutting the crap and going back to the original goal of pageants: arbitrary physical standards. We ran across a 1959 document that shows how the Miss Universe "winner was picked" and it had precious little to do with world peace. Legs "too irregular?" Shoulders "too square?" Sorry, Charley.
In a way, it seems important to be reminded that this is what pageants were - and are. Especially since they show no sign of going away. Indeed, today's Telegraph tells us that the scourge of the baby pageant has hit Great Britain, with attendant stage moms, pancake makeup and dubious invocations of God, (whom many parents seem to think takes a strong personal interest in the direction of local children's beauty contests) and quotes like this: "It was a long day. Scarlett had an asthma attack the day after – we think it was inhaling others' hairspray. I don't regret it, though; it was a learning experience and she had a lovely time." While these moms are not yet up to American levels of shamelessness - we have, after all, had generations to hone our skills, things like this - "Chloe (8) is used to make-up – she usually does her eyes, her cheeks and lipstick. She's a little young, but I don't mind if she wears it now and then, to go out to parties" - make us think they're going to catch up just fine. In a few years, these girls too can make the choice between the route of "scholarships/self-esteem and self-confidence" or the more frank future heralded by Miss Plastic.
Miss Plastic Hungary Contest Seeking "New" Faces [Reuters]
1950s Beauty Pageant Judging Guidelines [Sociological Images]
Baby Beauty Queens: Mini Miss UK, The UK's First US Style Child Beauty Pageant [Telegraph]