Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Miss Landmine Angola 2008

I think its fair to say that the institution of the Beauty Pageant has had quite a dubious history in terms of objectifying women and defining "beauty" with standards that are not very inclusive. Sometimes, the politics can blur, as it did last year when Jamaica crowned Zahra Redwood Miss Jamaica Universe, making her the first dark skinned, dreadlocked Rastawoman to ever win that title. It was deemed a triumph by some, considering that in Jamaica there are a lot of images and conditioning that place value on lighter skin and straight/ened hair, and also because, contrary to what a lot of non-Jamaicans might think, Rastas experience a lot of social stigma in Jamaica. It was simultaneously deemed to be problematic because... did Rastas want to have a representative in this Babylonian affair? To have a Rasta Queen objectified like all the rest? For the world to see her in a swimsuit and pumps? The issues commingled and complexified.

Then I heard about Miss Landmine Angola (thanks Larena!). Wow. There is a slogan for this pageant, it says "everyone deserves to be beautiful.*" Here, the Beauty Pageant becomes a vehicle to bring awareness to what landmines are doing in the world, while promoting disability pride, and diversifying images of beauty. Pretty amazing.

*on a related note, i am SO ready to see Margaret Cho's "Beautiful" show.


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