The Swimsuit Part of the Pageant

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It’s about time! The now, all-woman board of the Miss America Pageant has nixed the swimsuit competition for this year’s pageant. The reason, they say, is because they want the pageant to focus “on intellect, personality, talent and accomplishment,” according to the chairwoman of the organization.

We know that the choosing of a spouse should be based on character and not on a person’s looks or body image.  Choosing friends or dating friends should also be based on character. I wonder how many times I’ve asked someone, “And what does that have to do with his/her  character?” when they are describing the man or gal of their dreams – because they’ve focused on looks and left out the most important part: character.

We have lost the focus of what makes a person great.

In a student publication of the University of Kentucky this week, Saadia Ahktar wrote,

A woman’s worth should NOT be determined by her weight, her exercise routine or how many meals she has skipped to fit into that stage-worthy bikini.

It’s not the size of the hips, muscles, waist, jock strap, or boobs; it’s the character within us. Yet, our society exploits the visual sensuality of a woman’s body. Women have allowed this to happen by participating, and many men have encouraged it because they (all men) are visually stimulated and let it be known that they enjoy the sights they see.

We choose clothing with specific patterns often designed by men. The purpose of many designers is to accentuate the female body instead of designing clothing to draw attention to her eyes and face. When an item of clothing says, “look at this part of my body,” it causes people to look at the body and not the personality or character of the individual. The person then becomes a thing or an object, losing her sense of worth and of value.

Heels that are high are designed to accentuate the hips when a woman walks. No wonder gals receive whistles and cat calls when they wear clothing  and walk in such a way to draw attention to specific parts of their bodies.  Sometimes a gal may not be aware that the clothing she’s wearing  and the body parts she is showing will invite men to see her as a sex object, but most women are acutely aware of the fashion statement they want to make and the attention they want to draw to themselves.  They are very much attuned to the approval of their peers and will often choose  indecency over their personal sense of propriety and comfort (and often that of their spouse.)

Girls who are working to compete in pageants – whether on local or national levels – often focus more on getting their body down to the size they want than immersing themselves in developing character qualities that will make a difference for a lifetime. (Don’t get me wrong – it makes sense to try to lose those last ten pounds to fit into that dress for a special occasion; my point is that the obsession to make the swimsuit competition is wrong.) How much more time has been spent at the gym compared to investing in others, and/or volunteering in service to others as opposed to trying to fit into a swimsuit? Health  and being fit is important because our bodies are the temple of God. We need to have that balance.

A former winner of the Miss America Pageant and chairwoman of it now, Gretchen Carlson, said she knew the swimsuit competition wouldn’t make it for her.

She knew she wouldn’t win the swimsuit competition, but she had to train for it anyway, running around the block of her childhood home in Anoka.

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When I’ve voiced these ideas to others, I’ve been called old-fashioned and behind-the-times. I wasn’t “enlightened” and didn’t understand how “times have changed.”  There’s been some name-calling, for sure. This week, however, I moved from the ranks of old-fashioned to being in step with the times – thanks to the decision of Miss America’s Board of Directors.  Finally, the Board has declared that character has nothing to do with waist size or weight. Some women finally stepped up to the plate and said it loudly enough for everybody to hear.

Oh yes, times have changed. Crime is higher than it was years ago. Girls are prostituted at younger ages than a half-century ago.

Our world has sensationalized sex and the female body. Females, especially, have allowed this to happen by what they have chosen to wear and sometimes by their conduct. We do tend to act the part of the way we are dressed.

People aren’t happier because they’re “enlightened”; instead, there seems to be more competition and less satisfaction with one’s station in life. (I don’t have statistics to prove this, but I’m sure it’s true. It takes a lot more to make a kid happy now than it did 50 years ago.)

We allow this to happen when we choose to wear outfits that show off parts of our bodies that should be private. We say men should keep their minds out of the gutters and then proceed to bring gutter sexuality right to their eyes. We disrespect our own bodies by unclothing them, then become aghast at comments we hear or flirtations that occur, especially  in the work place. (The comments and flirtations are wrong; so is inviting them.)

Whether it’s in choosing a swimsuit, a prom dress, wedding dress, bridesmaid dress, or something for a gala event, the easiest ones to find are the ones with the least amount of fabric. Tell me it isn’t so. Instead of measuring our attire and actions by scripture, we compare ourselves to what others are doing – and feel good because at least what we’ve chosen covers more than what someone else is wearing. This is not the part of wisdom.

It’s true that “women can wear whatever they want to” in today’s culture. They cannot, however, choose the consequences.

Nor can women who follow Jesus wear “whatever they want to”, because Jesus said we are not our own; we are bought with a price. Therefore, we should glorify God with our bodies. Some Christian women choose dresses for occasions that expose parts of their bodies they themselves would consider improper to expose in church – but think nothing of baring cleavage or thighs for “special events”. Oh, they are special, all right, special to proclaim boobs and bottoms in such a way that it leaves nothing to the imagination. Why are we shocked and disgusted that “all he can think about is sex” or  that “he doesn’t recognize me for who I am, but just for my body.”

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If we women don’t want people drooling over our bodies, then we ought not put them  on display. Don’t bring a brownie fresh out of the oven when your guest isn’t allowed to have chocolate.

Finally, we hear women proclaiming that the swimsuit ought not to be included in the  beauty competitions. “Because,” women are finally saying, “Beauty pageants are about character and not our bodies.”

Now a winning competitor will “use her talents, passion, and ambition to perform the job of Miss America.” Finally!

It will take more than forty acres to turn this thing around – but the first turn of the wheel happened this week by the all-female board of the Miss America pageant.

Kudos!

 

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