Yesterday I had the "opportunity" to accompany a friend of mine to a pre selection round of a beauty pageant. Now, I proudly consider myself to be a 'kurta and jeans' wearing girl so a place where the accepted dress code was only elaborate evening gowns and body highlighting dresses; I knew that I was a misfit. However, I decided to go ahead with the plan of going because I had the moral obligation to enthuse my friend !
Nevertheless, the evening didn't turn out as half bad as I had expected it to be infact in a way it was quite an entertaining affair. Young, endearing girls walking down in 6 inch dreadful heels, giving their best orthodontic smiles. Considering that these 2-3 minutes was their only ticket to easy fame and success. But what really caught my attention was the answer of a young 16 year old girl, clad in a teeny red dress, who after following the usual protocol of expected adjectives also added that she was a " DIE HARD FEMINIST". Really, did I hear correctly ? I doubted my aural abilities and checked once again with my companions and after getting an affirmative nod from them, I wondered to myself was this statement an example of her anxiousness or sheer stupidity. Didn't she just present one of the biggest paradoxes of the immature Indian society. I can sympathize with her for a moment because being brought up in a convent, all girls environment the term 'Feminism' is used at leisure. Sometimes, even without a second thought.
Now, interestingly would a radical (or even liberal) feminist endorse beauty pageants? The feminist arguments against beauty pageants are obvious, and have been around even before the famous 1968 demonstrations at the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City. I am not to be mistaken as a "bra burning radical feminist" but I do not endorse the idea of commodifying women in this way. Dressing up and looking pretty is no sin. Women are undoubtedly the more appealing gender (I did not use the term sex as that is a biological concept ) and wanting to be perceived as attractive is completely understandable. However, my problem is with we often fail to recognize how they operate within a greater context of generalized and widely accepted misogyny. The day women start buying those endorsed products and spend hours in front of the mirror when they are doing it for their own happiness and not to please anyone; that day would be revolutionary.
I dedicate this to an extraordinary woman; someone I always looked upto and will do so all my life. People say that in today's day and age rational people cannot really afford to have a hero. Well, I have one.
She would not appreciate being named here but she once told me that,"The world today does not need feminists or idealists, but, what we really need are Humanists."
That is what I am trying to be.