A question on beauty: Why Queen Show?

I heard two related thought provoking questions this last week. This is the second. “We now live in a world where women are world leaders and trail blazers, how do you think judging women on the basis of their looks and a single question contributes to the Women’s Movement?”

A friend challenged us on Facebook and this was my immediate response. “I thought it was a brave question to ask a contestant in the very show that was under the question’s scrutiny.

Personally, it’s a double-edged sword. A beauty contest is based on the visual and the snap shot question no matter how politically incorrect it is to say so. But from my experience the winners of these shows from the local carnival queen to Miss World/Universe invariably go on to make stellar contributions in their chosen fields of interest.

The $64 million dollars question is – would they have done so without the doors opened by the beauty contest win?”

What do you think? I should have added that the external beauty fades or dims but the beautiful spirit and character are everlasting. Many times they improve with age like fine wine.

But THAT question keeps niggling me – “is like a police boots on my corn.” Why do we have beauty contests? What do they do for the “Women’s Movement?” Or more in the season, why do we have National Carnival Queen Show with Ambassadorial Speech, Talent, Swimsuit, Costume, Evening Gown & Interview (2 questions)?

For starters I do not think that the contestants are judged on “their looks and a single question”. Not in our show! A review of the judging criteria, clearly articulated on the evening, quickly clears up that misconception.

In each segment of our National Carnival Queen Show the contestants offer something to us patrons and we learn and/or are challenged.

In the ambassadorial speeches the young ladies tell us about themselves and the parishes they represent. We learn the value of public speaking and maybe it’s time to be a tourist at home.

Could I get up on that stage and do this before all these people one might ask?

Through the talent performances, we are offered a buffet of artistic endeavours singing, dancing, instrumental music, poetry, drama. I even saw a choreographed martial arts display at one such event in Grenada.

The nation got talent! I wonder if she takes bookings……Not an unreasonable thought! Ask yourself, what talents do I have, am I using them, or should I take up that pursuit I have been dreaming of starting but never got around to?

The swimsuit parade offers us the magnificent display of the female form in all its diversity. What beautiful creations! Some in the audience look back with wistful smiles to a time when they cut such a dashing figure. Others think with better nutrition, exercise and dedication I could get closer to that physique too. And a few – I could rock that look for sure.

In the costume section we are transported to the magical and mystical – creatures, natural features, folklore characters and much more.

Someone thought up these wondrous structures, built them and look how they dance across the stage to the pulsating rhythms we love to hear.

Our schools now offer CSEC/CAPE/BA subjects like Theatre/Performing Arts and Carnival Studies. Someone could be inspired to make a living and start a business in this field.

The evening gowns – what exquisite pieces fit for the runways of London, New York, Paris & Milan fashion week! Local and diaspora talent on display. This is not news, have you seen the streets on National Colours Day for Independence celebrations?

Get your business cards and inventory ready seamstresses, fashion designers, hairdressers, make-up artists, accessory manufacturers, we are coming to you! The young ladies adorned from head to toe – a vision of elegant perfection.

Alas it must end! The interview section crowns the evening as the young ladies demonstrate their intellect, share their opinions, introduce a topic we did not even know ourselves per chance?

All done under the pressure of the moment. Sometimes it doesn’t go to plan and they quickly adjust and recover. A lesson for us all.

In my humble opinion the National Carnival Queen Show is a worthwhile event. As a part of the carnival product, it reinforces our culture.

The participants benefit in immeasurable ways from the experience. The audience, and by extension the nation/world, is entertained for an evening, but hopefully roused to greater action in all areas of life.

Congratulations to the organisers. Some say that for many years the product was declining. But like the phoenix, it is rising from the ashes.

Now to the thorny issue – “the Women’s Movement.” Might I float a radical position? Isn’t the TRUE progress of humanity inclusive of the progress of women? How about we try to practice simple human courtesy, decency, respect, kindness, concern for the plight of others, self-sacrifice, appreciation, encouragement? You get my drift?

Just a final thought, might there be a correlation between the fact that the top two (2) answers to THAT question were given by young ladies who practiced the Arts – an accomplished pannist and a publisher/author? Dust out your newspaper back copies from last year, I think we may have to revisit the conversation about the value of the Arts to the nation. These ladies, ALL not just the winners, have just proved the point oh so BEAT(Y)fully.

M. Johanna Tamar

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