13 Questions Miss USA 2015 Has Left Me With Because Things Got Super Weird
I operate under the simple mantra that women are entitled to do with their lives as they please, and that includes being a contestant in the Miss USA 2015 pageant (or, well, any pageant). Despite the long-lasting debate of whether or not beauty pageants are feminist, I don't believe any one person has the right to belittle a beauty pageant contestant or make a woman feel like crap for wanting to aesthetically present herself in the way we're conditioned to believe we should. I mean, society tells us to prioritize traditional "beauty" (whatever the mainstream is currently defining as "beautiful"), but then mocks the women who choose to make their beauty part of their careers. Or the women who genuinely find enjoyment and a sense of self expression through learning to contour like Kim Kardashian. It's all super weird, really.
When I say it's all super weird, though, I mean the pageants themselves, too. Not just how we discuss them. In all honesty, my experience in the world of pageantry is limited (side note: I was actually a finalist in an international plus size beauty pageant once, but I dropped out upon realizing just how bizarre and conflicting that whole world actually is). In fact, this year's Miss USA is actually the first pageant I've watched live. And to say it's left me with a ton of questions is an understatement.
Besides the questions I expected to ask myself — like why is there such little diversity amongst the contestants, and how harmful to humans everywhere are events that place their focus on a woman's aesthetics (and aesthetics that all typically subscribe to an image of "aspirational beauty" at that) — my brain has basically been on a roller coaster of conflicting and confusion messaging for the past three hours. Here are just a few examples to get you on the fast track to existential dilemmas:
1. How Many Thousands Of Dollars Have Been Spent On Teeth Whitening?
I'm all for dental hygiene and making beauty choices that feel good and right to you. But I wonder what else could've been purchased with the tooth whitening budget... a life's supply of Hawaiian pizza? A Mini Cooper? Ryan Gosling's used underpants?
2. Were The Contestants Coached On Introducing Themselves?
Because everyone sounded exactly the same. Like in a creepy way. Like in a "everyone was taught to speak in the same exact tone, at the same exact volume kind of way."
3. And Told To Scream When Introducing Themselves?
Pretty sure those intros were louder than those emo basement parties I wasn't supposed to go to in high school.
3. Is This Bratz: The Movie Part 2?
Don't get me wrong, guys. The Miss USA contestants are stunning human beings. But there is an undeniable air of homogeneity when it comes to their outward presentations. We're looking at only thin, cis women, the majority of whom are white. And the majority of whom are rocking makeup and hair reminiscent of your fave Bratz dolls.
4. Did The Contestants Have To Take Umbrella Twirling Classes?
That introductory number was... something else. Everyone was twirling umbrellas like their lives depended on it. Hmm... maybe their lives (at least for tonight) do depend on it?
5. Do Umbrella Twirling Classes Exist?
How else does one go about learning to twirl an umbrella with such ease?!
6. Do You Have To Awkwardly Grunt To Demonstrate Your Patriotism?
The second musical number of the evening had way too much grunting for comfort TBH.
7. Or Wear A Fringed American Flag Shirt And Bright Red Hot Pants To Show Your Patriotism?
Yup, they did that too. It was very '80s, kind of.
8. Why Are They All Singing A Song About How American Women Are Basically Awful?
"American woman gonna mess your mind...""American woman, stay away from me...""American woman, mama, let me be..."
9. How Many Velcro Rollers Have Been Used For This Event?
Enough to make Shirly Temple proud, no doubt.
10. And Cans Of Hairspray?
I can smell the fumes from here!
11. Why Was Everyone So Weird About The Swimsuit Portion?
Call me crazy, but insisting that the scariest thing a woman will ever have to go through in her life is wear a bathing suit makes me feel very grim about the state of the world, including the way we're taught to think about our bodies.
12. Why Are They Promoting Body Lightening Lotion?
Did anyone else notice last year's winner's advertisement? You know, the one promoting body lightening lotion because I guess telling people they need to be even whiter is OK now...
13. Does Anyone Actually Think This Is For All Women?
Oh, buddy. Don't think I didn't hear you tell me this pageant is for women of all shapes and sizes. Last I checked, every contestant ranged from a 0 to a 6, was cisgendered, and indicative of the mainstream's vision of aspirational beauty. That pool is certainly not creating visibility for everyone.
Images: Getty; Bratz; Giphy; Twitter