by Kirsten Marie Amor | October 19, 2021
If there is one thing I have witnessed as a young girl living in the Philippines and as Catriona Gray stated, it is the country’s obsession with the three Bs: basketball, boxing, and beauty pageants. Among the three, beauty pageants have always caught my attention the most. Together with my classmates, we would sneakily watch the Binibining Pilipinas and Miss Universe coronations at school. The ability of these empowered women to showcase their talents and advocacies with grace and confidence is something I have always looked up to.
Despite these women proudly showing their capabilities, there is an ever-present stigma surrounding beauty pageants, belittling them for joining such. They are labeled as shallow, accused of spreading unrealistic images of women, and even worse, deemed irrelevant. As a pageant fanatic, I truly believe it goes way deeper than what the masses see.
The advocacies they present speak volumes of the sincereness in their hearts. Their main goal is to spread awareness to particular issues close to them and aid those in need. In fact, as a Filipino, you may know the notable examples of Miss Universe 2015, Pia Wurtzbach’s advocacy for HIV awareness and, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray’s advocacy for free and accessible education. Gone are the days when women were judged solely on their physical attributes; advocacy, intelligence, and passion are now of greater importance.
Unlike before, pageants are also more inclusive of different types of women. Recently, the Miss Universe Philippines Organization removed their height requirement, giving more women the opportunity to join. One of my favorites from this year’s batch is Ayn Bernos. I never saw myself in the women standing on stage—having fair skin, perfect teeth, toned bodies, and the like. However, Ayn and I had the same thoughts; we never saw ourselves being represented. She stood up against criticisms and hurtful comments stating she was not good enough to be on the stage. Despite adversities, Ayn proved all her haters wrong by showcasing her abilities and staying true to herself. As she embodies the representation I lacked growing up, she made me comfortable in my skin, called my flaws features, and helped me gain my confidence.
There is more to beauty pageants than just the glitz and glam of voluminous hair, snatched makeup, and long sequined gowns. The bond of women who share the same dreams, passions, and sentiments rises above all. Amidst the stigma surrounding beauty pageants, the uplifting of each other and the connection formed through shared experiences keep them both grounded and afloat.