Faith Daniels

Pass the tiara

2016-03-16 07:00

Faith J Daniels

Forgive me for not jumping out of my skin at the mere thought of Miss South Africa being crowned as this coming weekend. Isn’t that just so 1997? OK, I know that time reference was kind of specific, but let me explain - it might just have been the last time I walked in front of a television set in our family home and heard my sister moan for me to get out of the way.

Don’t get me wrong – there surely is a place for pageants here and abroad – interest, support and audience numbers clearly coupled with it. And shouldn’t the aspiration be to give people what they want? To create an hour of glamour TV? Why else would this tradition of picking the most beautiful and perhaps talented (whatever that means) woman from among scores stand the test of time?

So I asked around, solicited office opinion and pondered some more. And here’s what I think happened to me and a lot of other girls who sat and watched the spectacle unfold in all its glory and thought the contestants all looked like the princesses we wanted to be – we grew up, but the pageant did not.

It’s not just this particular pageant by the way. I suspect the world over we’ve become oh-so-predictable and oh-so-condescending over the years, sticking to the same formula of drawing attention to an event that really just objectifies women – who all look picture perfect and swimsuit ready. And really, if we are honest with oursevles – who do they represent? The girl next door? The average young woman? Do we even know?

In the United States, pageantry makes for great night-time TV fodder. I recently watched a John Oliver YouTube clip breaking down the scenarios around the Miss America 2014 pageant – a pageant that prides itself in being one of the largest scholarship funds for women (really)...One publication called it the “Who wants to pay off their student loans” affair.

But I digress...So, in this 15 minute clip Oliver takes us on a pageant journey through the years where the only significant thing that changed in its decades old history was that the contestants aren’t subjected to waist, head and leg measurements anymore.

You’d think that in the modern era, we as a society the world over, would have moved on to fixate on other things – like building up the self-esteem of little girls all around us to the point where they really believe in scenarios like aspiring to the highest office in the land. Or being a business force to be reckoned with...or changing their own communities for the better, with no sash in hand. The examples are there. Why not elevate the status of modern day women who change the world without the tiara, so that they become the role models our girls grow up with and aspire to be? Or are we too fickle a species to even contemplate that?

The thought of sitting through an hour or so of pageantry leaves me numb. I don’t think I have it in me to listen to how we should aspire to world peace or try and get along as the human race from a glitzed up stage. I refuse to can in my older age. And I think you should too.

- Faith Daniels is a seasoned radio and TV journalist, and is currently head of news at Kagiso Media’s Jacaranda FM and East Coast Radio.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


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