Last night, I was lured into watching the elections of Miss Lebanon 2010 because there were no football matches being broadcast and no newly downloaded episodes of Glee on my laptop. But the main reason I tuned in was out of pure intrigue. The newly crowned Miss, Rahaf Abdallah, and I are both alumnae of the same high school and naturally, former classmates and teachers took their Facebook accounts to show their support and encouragement once news broke out that she would be participating in this year’s pageant.
Rahaf Abdallah, Your New Miss Lebanon
The result, as determined at midnight, did not disappoint her supporters, and I, for one, would like to extend my congratulations to Rahaf, who is pleasantly the opposite of the classical “type,”
and hope that she goes on to achieve many good things in her reign, and not fade into obscurity like most of the former title-holders.
The show last night, however, got me thinking about what the exact message these pageants try to convey to the general population, especially given that Lebanon’s beauty queens rarely go on to receive worldwide acclaim, such as Miss World and Miss Universe.
Year after year, the Lebanese Broadcasting Company (LBC) dishes out a large amount of money to organize these extravagant soirees, making sure the competing ladies are decked out in only the finest of couture (which this year was absolutely horrible) and are styled by only the best in the world of fashion. That’s in addition to getting only the most notable Lebanese “superstars” to entertain the audience, because you know, the show would be nothing without them. And let’s not go into how much they spend on sets, choreography, stage effects, and of the course, the prizes!
I am assuming that the resulting electricity bill for that one night is equivalent to what an entire Lebanese village generates in one month.
And that’s only the beginning.
The true heart of the competition lies in its outdated format. Assuming that we are electing beauty queens to promote the touristic qualities of our country (which are now being replaced with a notorious reputation for being a party-town), the concept of having the contestants strutting around in barely-there swimsuits just doesn’t make any sense to me. So the Miss
looks good in a swimsuit, but what is that going to do to the country’s tourism? Gain the reputation of having the hottest women? Really now? Are we forgetting that despite having different religious sects, the majority of the population are conservative and would be appalled at the notion of having their wives, girlfriends, sisters, or daughters wearing nothing but a bikini and having every creature out there staring at her?
I won’t even go into the effect of that on little girls and the change in perception of their body image. Too much has been said already.
But that’s not the real problem. As any beauty queen would tell you, it’s the “inner beauty” that counts, and by inner beauty they mean, answering those nonsense questions, that seem to be adopted from a how-to-book on making people cringe, in hopes that people would see that these girls have something up there and are not just bone-skinny victims of a merciless industry.
The poor girls who had to endure the questions
Watching the girls being forced to answer a question like “What would you prefer to have between money, authority, and knowledge?” just made me want to hurl the closest piece of furniture at the television. That’s not including the fact that the five finalists all gave the exact, same answer, “Knowledge because that would give me authority and being in authority helps me make money.” Don’t be quick to blame the girls for that ingenious answer; it’s really not their fault.
Why can’t the organizers ask something more constructive?
It’s obvious the ladies have the brains; otherwise they wouldn’t be enrolled in the best universities in Lebanon. It is a true pity that these young women have to dumb themselves down to be accepted by a shallow, materialistic society.
Allowing that above-mentioned aspect to come into full-focus would just throw off the whole notion of electing beauty queens. After all, the French said it perfectly:
“Sois belle et tais- toi”
which roughly translates to “Be beautiful and keep your mouth shut.”
But then again, some girls want to be the president of their country and others just want to wear that glittering tiara.
The prized tiara
And to get there, you have to pay the price. Even if it means enduring a ridiculous event like the one broadcast last night.