Beauty Contest: What Good It Brings to Woman?

Shah Abdul Hannan

The history of the beauty contest is not clearly known to me. Who, where
and when it started is unknown, but the common belief is that the beauty
contest started some 60-70 years back in the West. Later some elements
started to organize such beauty contests in the East, particularly in India
and Japan. Of the total 60 Muslim countries, a few hold such contests
against the age-old culture, custom, tradition and value system. In some
countries the government is patronizing such beauty contests and in others
individuals and private organizations arrange such contests. Never such
contests were ever organized in Bangladesh. Strangely, some people are now
trying to organize such beauty contests against the deep-rooted faith,
ethics and norms of the majority people of our country. The government of
Bangladesh did not allow organizing such functions in the country and
therefore the people who are active to raze the basic elements of the
culture of Bangladesh, a predominantly Muslim country, in the name of
globalization and modernism, organized a beauty contest in London some time
back and selected a girl who later participated in the world contest. Of
late, some people are organizing beauty contest in Bangladesh in the name
and cover of fashion show.

The most pertinent question is: does beauty contest enhance the prestige
and dignity of the womenfolk of our country or is it in any way related
with the development of the country’s economy? In the beauty contest, the
participating women are scantily dressed, are mostly required to expose
their body and beauty before the male judges walking in the most offensive
and distasteful manner. Does it in any way increase respect of the women?
In fact, the uncovered body of woman brings disgrace for her. Historically
all noble ladies even in the West until now were dressed in the most
dignified manner. In fact such half clothed women become an object of
commercial display and turn into the easy prey of the lust of the males.

The question is: why beauty contest of the woman is being organized when no
beauty contest is planned to select the most beautiful man? In fact a
section of business community organizes beauty contest of the women to use
them for commercial purposes for which women, our sisters and mothers, are
disgraced. The beauty contests excite male members of the society. This is
true not only in the matter of beauty contest, any obscene, offensive and
vulgar programme involving women is bound to incite male members. Such
programmes are responsible for the moral degeneration of our youth. The
root cause of the increase of the rape, violence and crime related to women
are the spread of obscenity in the society. The beauty contest therefore in
no way increase prestige, honour, dignity, safety and security of the women
rather women lose respect, and their security is further endangered.

Does the beauty contest in any way contribute to the economic development?
No empirical study or survey has ever established that beauty contest some
way or other has played any constructive  or significant role for the
progress and development of any country. There is no logic behind the claim
of some persons that such beauty contest directly or indirectly contribute
in the economic stride and progress of any society. Beauty contest has in
no meaningful way made any contribution in the increase of Gross Domestic
Product (GDP) or the national income. Some good-looking women who won in
the beauty contest later joined the advertisement industry as model. This
might some way financially benefit them personally. The joining of some
pretty women in the commercial and advertisement industry might have
increased the demand of certain product, soap, paste etc in the market but
this increase takes place mostly at the expense or reduction of sale of
some other soaps, paste etc of other companies. This however does not as a
whole increase the GDP. Moreover products are sold because of the quality,
not because of the fair looking models or due to their physical posture.
Some tourists of foreign countries might come to visit a particular country
for a day or two, but this is very insignificant and does not carry any
weight or credence. Such beauty contest, for sure, has no value in terms of
the economic activity of a country or benefit the tourist industry on a
long term basis..

What is the reaction of the women concerning the beauty contest? In this
regard let us see the article by Hasina Habib, a student of BUET who in an
article published in the daily Inqilab on 2nd April 2002 captioned ‘Beauty
Contest Vis A Vis Art’  writes:

“BTV broadcasted a programme of beauty contest on 3rd April. The
commentator during the presentation ceremony of the programme on several
occasions commented that these beautiful ladies are the assets of the
country. On what consideration these pretty ladies are the assets of the
country? Earning forex by showing and screening beauty cannot be a
prestigious profession or an aesthetic art. On what reckoning then the
participants of beauty contest can be asset, when such contest in itself is
not honourable? The questions that were put forward to the participants of
the contest to ascertain the intelligence and the capacity for immediate
response to quarry were not at all scholarly. Such questions were asked: To
grow up is not an interesting matter, what do you think? What do you mean
by hairstyle? … etc. How such hollow and meaningless questions can be the
reflection of intelligence and wisdom?  The ultimate objective of the
clothing is to cover up the body. Its aim is also to protect prestige,
honour and the dignity of the individual personality. But in the
presentation ceremony of the beauty contest as broadcast by the BTV the
participant women were shown walking in such skin tight, bare and half
naked way as if the purpose is to attract male members who are viewing.
Such exposure of the body and beauty of the women is nothing but the wild
statement of nakedness and offensive and indeed distasteful matter.  Most
of the guests present in the beauty contest had been male and their
statement was objectionable, unpleasant and obnoxious. The only exception
was Endrew Kishore who was seen looking down bowing head by keeping his
palm on the forehead.  Rest of the males were looking and observing this
nude art (!) with their lustful eyes.  Does the definition of art or
aesthetic beauty has changed into nudity and obscenity in the so-called
modern life? How the exposure of the body of the women can be a sign of
progress of the civilization? Why should we copy the negative and obscene
elements of another culture leaving their positive elements? If nudity is
considered a sign of progress then women one day will require becoming
totally naked to increase the reserve of foreign exchange. In other words
the loathsome and abhorrent male members will not spend money unless women
expose them by becoming totally naked to earn money. It seems that in near
future all people will become naked like the animal of jungles to keep pace
with the development.

Those who do not have the sense of self-esteem and dignity and do not mind
in becoming naked in front of the male jury and their only objective is to
earn money by exposing their body and beauty, what name we can give to the
profession of such people?

Hasina Habib rightly pointed out that beauty contest which lacks
socio-economic, moral and ethical consideration cannot be an art in the
esthetic sense or an asset for the majority of the people of Bangladesh who
are believers of Islamic ideology and values. Needless to mention that the
so-called beauty contest, which is against the ideology of Islam and its
teachings, is also against the history, tradition and culture of
Bangladesh. It is not in agreement with the values of other religious
faiths. We therefore appeal to all the businessmen, industrialists and
cultural organizers of our country to take immediate and effective steps to
stop the recurrence of further beauty contests. Not only beauty contests,
we also appeal to business magnets, industrialists and socio-cultural
workers to ensure that nothing is done in the name of cultural activities
which cause moral decadence and disgrace and humiliate women, our
daughters, sisters and mothers. Our message to the organizers, leaders and
members of the women right groups is that you be active to wipe out the
root cause of violence from the society and the moral degeneration of our
youth and events that are not the demonstration of the uplift of women in
the society rather are the causes of shame and ignominy for the women. We
also appeal to the government to keep watch so that some people working
against our culture and value system cannot organize beauty contest in the
cover and garb of fashion show or any other name. We all must do everything
possible at our command before it exceeds all limits and before it is too late.

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