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Year after year, we celebrate the annual ceremony, where a line-up of women in stilettos, bikinis and evening gowns with their faces painted, vow to end world hunger and bring world peace, as they wait to be judged based on their physical attributes, by a group of fully clothed professionals and they are watched by a fully clothed audience in a packed hall, while also being telecasted live all around the world.

These women will be told to line up, walk with their heads held up, smile and get scored on how they look. They will be assigned a number, paraded like products right before being evaluated and criticised, with the fairest one of them, celebrated across the nation.

We have come a long way since female babies were deemed worthless and buried alive; women are seen as commodities and forced to enslave themselves; women denied their fundamental rights to live free, vote and exercise equal opportunities. Today, after decades of relentless struggle to have women valued for more than their physicality, we live in an era where women walk with their heads held up while striving to be continuously empowered.

Yet, with all the growth we’ve experienced, we continue to celebrate annual ceremonies of parading pretty, half naked women in high heels for everyone to watch.

Honestly, what are we actually celebrating?

Being young and beautiful are not accomplishments. But that is what we do in beauty pageants – we reward women for being young and beautiful. We give them scores for having the perfect skin, ideal height, waistline, breast size. We give them scores for being able to carry floor length gowns, sprayed hair, and a two-piece swimsuit. We give them scores for always broadcasting their broadest smiles and not tripping as they walk in their five-inch stilettos.

Are these what being beautiful is all about?

You may argue that there is nothing wrong with a woman showing off her body on a stage and on national television. I do completely agree with you. And of course, pageant organisers may also argue that training and grooming sessions prepare the contestants for better accomplishments in life – joining beauty pageants can open many doors for them, inviting many opportunities they may never score on their own.

But wouldn’t any confident, empowered and passionate woman be ashamed of using their physical attributes to secure a good future?

The truth is, no strong, independent, confident, empowered and passionate women would use their physical attributes to have doors opened for them. Those who do, are called a different name – not beauty queens.

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