Beauty Pageants: A Platform for Empowerment or Exploitation?

Beauty Pageants and Body Image: How Competitions Can Impact Mental Health

This time I want to make a summary of articles from several trusted references, namely those related to "Beauty Pageants: Empowering or Exploitative?", Beauty pageants have been a popular form of entertainment for decades, but in recent years, there has been a growing concern over their impact on the participants. Many people argue that beauty pageants are dangerous for the participants, as they can cause physical and psychological harm, and reinforce harmful stereotypes and beauty standards. In this article, we will explore the arguments on both sides of this debate and examine the evidence that supports each perspective.

What Are Beauty Pageants?

Beauty pageants are contests where women (and sometimes men) compete against each other in various categories, such as beauty, talent, and personality. These competitions typically involve participants wearing glamorous clothing, performing choreographed dances or songs, and answering questions from the judges. The winner of the competition is typically awarded a prize, which can range from a cash prize to a scholarship or a modeling contract.

The History of Beauty Pageants

Beauty pageants have a long history, with the first modern beauty contest believed to have taken place in Belgium in 1888. However, it was not until the 1920s and 1930s that beauty pageants became popular in the United States. The Miss America pageant was first held in 1921 and quickly became a cultural phenomenon, with millions of people tuning in to watch the annual competition.

Over the years, beauty pageants have evolved and diversified, with a range of different contests catering to different ages, races, and nationalities. However, they have also faced growing criticism from those who argue that they are exploitative, sexist, and harmful to the participants.

The Arguments Against Beauty Pageants

There are several arguments against beauty pageants, with many people arguing that they are dangerous for the participants in various ways.

Physical Harm

One of the most common arguments against beauty pageants is that they can cause physical harm to the participants. Many beauty pageants require contestants to wear high heels, heavy makeup, and tight-fitting clothing, which can be uncomfortable and even painful to wear for extended periods. In addition, many pageant contestants are expected to maintain a specific weight or body shape, which can lead to unhealthy dieting practices and even eating disorders.

Psychological Harm

Another argument against beauty pageants is that they can cause psychological harm to the participants. Many beauty pageants place a heavy emphasis on physical appearance, with contestants being judged primarily on their looks. This can reinforce harmful stereotypes about beauty and body image and can lead to low self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, and even depression among contestants.

In addition, beauty pageants can be extremely competitive, with participants often feeling pressured to win at all costs. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, stress, and even trauma among contestants, particularly those who do not win or who receive negative feedback from the judges.


Another argument against beauty pageants is that they are exploitative, particularly of young girls and women. Many beauty pageants require participants to pay entry fees, purchase expensive clothing and makeup, and travel to different locations for competitions. This can be financially burdensome for many families, particularly those from lower-income backgrounds.

In addition, beauty pageants can be highly sexualized, with contestants being expected to wear revealing clothing and perform provocative dances or poses. This can objectify women and reinforce harmful stereotypes about femininity and sexuality.

The Arguments in Favor of Beauty Pageants

Despite these arguments against beauty pageants, there are also many people who support them and argue that they are not dangerous for the participants.

Self-Confidence and Personal Growth

One of the main arguments in favor of beauty pageants is that they can help build self-confidence and personal growth in participants. Many pageants require contestants to perform in front of large audiences, speak publicly, and handle stressful situations, all of which can help build important life skills.

In addition, many pageant participants report that the experience helped them develop a more positive self-image and increased their self-esteem. This is particularly true for participants who may have previously struggled with body image or confidence issues.

Scholarship Opportunities

Another argument in favor of beauty pageants is that they can provide scholarship opportunities for participants. Many pageants offer substantial cash prizes and scholarships to winners, which can help offset the costs of education and provide opportunities for further personal and professional development.

Networking Opportunities

Beauty pageants can also provide valuable networking opportunities for participants. Many pageants bring together contestants from different regions, states, or even countries, providing an opportunity to meet new people and develop connections with others in the industry.

In addition, pageants often feature judges or guest speakers who are professionals in fields such as modeling, entertainment, or business. This can provide participants with access to valuable advice and insights, as well as potential career opportunities.

Positive Impact on Communities

Finally, some argue that beauty pageants can have a positive impact on communities. Many pageants require participants to engage in community service or charity work, providing an opportunity for contestants to give back to their communities and make a positive difference in the world.

In addition, beauty pageants can be an important cultural event in some communities, bringing people together to celebrate diversity and promote local talent and culture.

So, the conclusion:

In conclusion, the debate over whether beauty pageants are dangerous for participants is complex, with valid arguments on both sides. While some argue that beauty pageants can cause physical and psychological harm and reinforce harmful stereotypes and beauty standards, others argue that they can help build self-confidence, provide scholarship and networking opportunities, and have a positive impact on communities.

Ultimately, the decision to participate in a beauty pageant should be a personal one, made after careful consideration of the potential risks and benefits. Participants should be encouraged to prioritize their physical and mental health, seek support when needed, and speak out against any practices or behaviors that make them uncomfortable or compromise their well-being.