Despatch from the Valley of the Dolls


Taking a winter break back in my home of Gibraltar, for the first time in a few years I went to see the annual tradition of the Cavalcade on Three Kings Night. This is for the most part a parade of floats, one for each king, and then a series of themed ones made by different clubs and associations, with a couple of marching bands. Its for the most part harmless, if cheesy, family fun. The people on the floats are armed with large quantities of wrapped sweets which are often hurled with great ferocity at onlookers. It’s not something I personally look forward to but since I was with a dear visitor from another land, I felt obliged to play the part of cultural ambasassador and go along with her to see it.

Now, apart from the aforementioned floats and bands, there is another particular feature of the parade. As far as I can remember, there has always been an appearance by Miss Gibraltar, the year’s winner of our little corner of the Miss World beauty competition. She sits with her sash on the back of a convertible and does one of those continuous, gentle waves like the ones the Queen does, because you have to conserve energy if you’re sticking your arm up on a long car ride. As far as I can recall the all runners-up were also featured, in the same or separate cars. This year the beauty pageant winners seemed to be particularly egregious. Singly and in groups we were passed by around twenty propped-up assorted Misses and Princesses (funny how the winner doesn’t get a royal title, but runner-ups do). The full titles ranged from the official grand poobah herself (Miss Gibraltar) to the meaningless (Miss Glamour) to the disturbing (Miss Tween).

There was something about this wave after wave of beauty queens that I found somewhat embarassing. It seems rather over saturated. Do we really need so many? And what does the preponderance of overly-specific beauty contests say about us as a culture? The thing is, I’ve always thought that Gibraltar had a bit of a problem with beauty pageants in general. If you cross the border in from Spain, there’s a big picture of Kaiane Aldorino, winner of 2009 Miss World, to wave you in. I was in town at the time of the homecoming and there was massive pomp and pageantry and great ceremony and celebrations, all based around the fact that someone from our country had won a beauty contest. There larger than any information about our culture or natural environment, is Miss World 2009*. And it’s 2013.

It’s 2013 and part of the embarassment I feel upon witnessing the of pageant winners sitting on their cars is that it feels antiquated. We should be over this by now. What is it exactly that is being celebrated when they are paraded out every year? Beauty? Because there are a myriad of ways how these things don’t really work as celebrations of beauty. There are many different kinds of beauty, but these pageants are all geared towards the one archetype, based on the same skinny, big haired cookie-cutter actress/model/popstar/whatever thats been pushed by the powers that be as the mainstream beauty ideal for decades. In these competitions there’s usuall some kind of showcase of talent or expertise at something to pretend that it isn’t about complete objectification, but it’s pretty flimsy. No academic or musician or artist or athlete is ever going to win one of these things because of the hard work they put into their discipline. Many beauty contestants have dance or fitness as one of their big interest, which stands to reason, as there is good synergy between them and having the kind of body you need to participate. Both can be interesting but take a sideline to just being accessories of ‘being pretty’. This is a beauty contest, they walk, pose and smile in swimsuits and evening gowns, line up and get picked out by the panel of judges (usually consisting of mostly men) as the fairest of them all. And because everyone who enters these things are all playing the rules of the game, there’s usually hardly anything to distinguish between the contestants- all pretty good-looking girls in the same style, it’s completely arbitrary what ranking they are placed in.

This system sends out a poisonous message, in particular to the many kids in attendance at the cavalcade. That appearance is the most important aspect of a girl’s life, that it will be the measure of her social worth and appreciation, that other girls our their rivals in this and that they must groom themselves to be judged based on their looks. I’ve got nothing against pretty people, or even objectification in the right context. I know plenty of people who work as models, stylists and photographers and who are otherwise working in a field where beauty and aesthetics are important and they produce great work. To me, at least, this is different from participating in a blatant cattle auction. After all, it is young girls who get bombarded with this pressure. There are hardly any male beauty contests and nobody makes a big fuss out of the ones that do exist. They certainly don’t get to be in a parade. It’s not set up as a standard for boys to aspire to, because preening and submitting oneself to judgement as a sex object isn’t part of the masculine archetype that boys are conditioned to fulfil. I’m not saying that it should be, but the contrast does shed a light on why its unfair on girls.

The sheer vapidity of beauty contests may be a cliched joke among many, but how to we justify their continued existence, popularity, and time in the spotlight? They can’t be justified as a celebration of womanhood, since the format only pushes one narrow and patronising definition of such. How are we going to expect people of different body types and styles to have healthy self esteem and body image when there is one kind of image that has official sanction of ‘the best’ from employers and the freaking Government? Beauty Queens are sometimes used as ‘cultural ambassadors’ by governments, but wouldn’t it be so much better if we actually used people who made some kind of meaningful contribution for our culture?

Beauty pageants aren’t even useful for their intended purpose: finding the Fairest of them All. Attractiveness is partly quantifiable but also largely subjective. Get a bunch of really good looking people together, and then all bets are off which one is the ‘best’. It’ll come down to details that are completely down to the taste, whims and ulterior motives of the judges. On top of that there is some kind of self-selection bias at work, as beauty pageants have their own set of tropes and subculture associated with them. There’s no coincidence that they tend to have very little variety in contestants, because it tends to attract a specific kind of person. The only people I can see who really benefit from this are the corporate sponsors, which surely can funnel their efforts into something that doesn’t reinforce negative stereotypes.

Because of Gibraltar’s weird, city-in-a-bottle nature, I’m not really sure if the obsession with beauty contests actually says something about us in particular or if its just another aspect of western society that sticks out more in the microcosm. Certainly one of the more depressing jobs I’ve ever had here was doing the layouts and blurbs for ‘baby of the week’ and bizarrely specific beauty contests (Miss Varyl Begg, anyone?) for a local publication. I would welcome feedback from anyone (especially people who participate and organise pageants) who thinks I am completely wrong-headed on this, but I can’t really see the point of any of these existing, at least in the current format. And if I am, surely Gibraltar is over-saturated and could stand to tone it down a little. Aside from the redundancy of having all these Misses and Princesses hanging about, do we really need stuff like Miss Tween? Even the word is disgusting, apart from the general creepiness of doing this to 11-13 year olds. Everybody knows a good-looking person when they see one. Some of these good-looking people also have talents worth appreciating without being demeaned by a cattle auction to get recognition. Society is moving on and these pageants, like many rituals, are stuck in the past, a particularly distasteful past of patriarchy and stepford-smiling conformity. I personally think that its time for them to go the way of the dodo, but if there is to be a future for pageants, they must change to reflect the modern woman as a fully-realised person in her own right.

*As a side note, I hear that Kaiane rejected various offers and corporate deals after winning Miss World, preferring to go back to her day job. Even if I can’t understand the cult around her and the cardboard idol, I think this is pretty cool.


~ by theserpentscircle on January 25, 2013.

27 Responses to “Despatch from the Valley of the Dolls”

  1. Great report, I will agree with you on the fact that Gibraltar is overly saturated with Beauty Contests etc. I do not believe that they should be for under 18’s. This is sending the wrong message to them at such a young age. Look at the USA and their chid beauty pageants. It’s horrendos tha those kids are sibjected to the whims of their mothers (and sometimes fathers).

    As a professional photographer in UK, I was comissioned to many Beauty Pageants to take candid and official photos. But I cannot recall any of them being for under 18’s.

    I also agree that the in this modern world the whole beauty thing needs to be replaced with more of the contestents other great features not just their looks.

  2. excellent. exactly what ive been saying for a long time. you will not doubt be berated for this, but considering where it will come from it can only serve to add weight to your argument.

  3. Wow, your brother posted this on the ‘Gibraltar Politics’ Facebook page and it’s kicking up a storm. Loved the blog and so did most people, good points.

  4. Interesting article but by no means a new angle. Comments such as those which you have made have been doing the rounds for 50 years. You focus on Gibraltar but look at e.g. news programes in the UK and see how many plain looking women get to read the news. I think that you will find that the nomber is exactly “0” (zero). Beauty is important in our society as is physical prowess – note our cultural obsession with sport. Note also how wealthy people are revered even some times those who inherit wealth without effort… There is no “cult” to Kaianne Aldorino but we Gibraltarians are happy that she won the Miss World contest. It has given her and us wordwide positive exposure. There used to be a time when the US and the UK took it in turns to win the covetted title and I cannot rememeber anyone in those countries feeing embarassed!!! Quite the contrary it was a source of national pride to the Us, the Uk etc. To the writer above I say – let each person find his / her own way of “realising” him or herself and do not stand in judgment and do not feel embarassed about us lest we become embarrased of you 😉

    • Charles thanks for you feedback. I would just like to say that I am aware that it’s far from a new angle, hence why the preponderance of beauty contests here seemed so out of date. I focus on Gibraltar for the purposes of the article simply because of how it struck me at a particular time and got me thinking. This is my home and I grew up here. I have seen people grow up and evolve and observed our social rituals progress and evolve (or not in some cases). However patriarchy and inequality along gender, racial, class and other lines exists everywhere and in all forms of media, and believe me I stand against it all, everywhere. I did write about my feminism in a winder sweep in a previous blog post, however for this one I decided to narrow the focus on what is just a particular aspect of the system. But I hope that readers do not think that I am picking on beauty contests in isolation, and upon reflection become more aware of the patriarchal background that informs them. Many of these aspects of society, like the newsreaders that you mentioned, are taken for granted as normal, desireable, or coincidence, without anyone looking beneath the surface.

      It might not be a new angle, certainly there are many articles and newsgroups debating issues of gender equality around the world but in Gibraltar not much emerges in terms of writing to challenge the status quo or establishment values. If there have been vocal Gibraltarians banging the drum on these same subjects that I have missed then I certainly respect and support them, but protest must not just be made once, it must be continuous, just like establishment values are continually pressed upon us in mainstream media, or it will just drown out in the flood or be swept under the rug and ignored. I didn’t expect this piece to be popular but I am glad to see that it is making people talk about it in the wider context of society’s accepted attitudes towards women.

      Patriarchy isn’t a special problem that Gibraltar has. It’s endemic in many modern societies. But that doesn’t mean that the good work can’t start at home. I’m not trying to trash a country or a people or even individuals who participate in pageants (despite which some individuals with poor reading comprehension might believe). I just wanted to get people to think about the meaning behind these established social rituals beyond the official party line. And it looks like it’s done a bit of that, which makes me very proud of many friends and strangers who are fellow citizens of Gibraltar, and I would never be embarassed to be counted among them.

      For a wider perspective and a bit about the ideological background I’m coming from, please check out this previous post

      • Thanks for your reply. Why do you think patriarchy is wrong? I am slightly troubled that your discourse reads like the dogma of the current political establishment. There are to many “givens” and foregone conclusions in your analysis. To be honest I find what is known as “political correctness” as suffocating as the old “establishment”. Like the old version the pc “establishment” now has laws to impose uniformity and curtail dissent and freedom of thought. Finally it was you who said that “there was something about this wave after wave of beauty queens that I found somewhat embarassing”…. on what premise do you allow yourself to make a value judgment like that, if not the comfort and security of political correctness? Thanks again for opening debate!

      • Again I would refer you to the article linked previously regarding why I think patriarchy is wrong. The short answer is that I think we should have an egalitarian society and patriarchy is by definition against that. In a wider sense, I am opposed to Kyriarchy but when posting on gender issues it is more convenient to use patriarchy. My opinions of course take place in a wider context (again, see previous article), and although I wish I could bring the current political establishment to my way of thinking, it is far from it! Political Correctness is not a term I like to use, since it is normally used as a bogeyman or strawman, what I would say is that I believe is that people should have equal opportunities in society and not be discriminated against for reasons of ethnicity, gender, class or appearance. The ‘establishment’ (government and the dominant corporations and media) is by and large still supporting a status quo of inequality. The old establishment you mentioned hasn’t gone away, its taken batterings and been forced by pressure from citizens to adapt in certain ways but it is still very much in power. This can be seen by political and cultural struggles over issues like the gender pay gap, MPs and Bankers awarding themselves massive bonuses in the midst of a global recession where they mismanaged finances, abortion and homosexual marriage, brutal cuts to the disabled and vulnerable made by super-rich policymakers, etc. The right wing has re-asserted itself in Europe and is trying to turn back the progress of recent decades. Although I prefer to write about issues from a ‘soft power’, cultural and societal perspective rather than hard politics, that doesn’t meant I don’t see how they are intertwined.

        Regarding the statement that I find something embarassing. Embarassment is an emotional reaction I had which I am being honest about, not a logical value judgement I make. But I don’t see how ‘political correctness’ (again, an awkward and problematic term which I dislike to use). I don’t see what kind of comfort and security it would bring me if I believed in it. It certainly hasn’t prevent me from receiving various abuse and ad hominem attacks. I’m all for dissent and freedom of thought and speech. I believe in freedom of expression which is why I wouldn’t write ‘ban all beauty contests’. Rather the gist is ‘this is problematic, here are a few reasons why’.

        Here’s is a nice clip on political correctness that readers might enjoy:

  5. The reason for the backlash from the Facebook group is that they just cannot comprehend or understand that the objectification of women is an invasion of human (or should I say woman) rights. Getting young girls to all subject to one stereotypical archetype is NOT liberating. It is REPRESSING. It enforces girls that don’t fit this stereotype to feel like they are less of, which is obviously untrue, but we’ve all been teenagers. Beauty pageants have been and have always been INFECTIOUS. And in Gibraltar it seems to be a spectator sport which identifies with the patriarchy, which is very worrying.

  6. I also believe in equal opportunities but as the French say “Vive la difference!” There is nothing wrong with women being pretty and feminine, in the same way as I have no quarrel with women who like to present in a butch manner. In my experience traditionalists tend to be more open minded than those who are always banging on about “equality” but are in fact censorious are really want people to be grey and uniform.

    • Charles, we believe in the same things, which are diversity and the right to be different without suffering unfair treatment for standing out. I have nothing against women (or men) looking pretty and feminine as long as they are fulfilled in doing so. Just the fact that the pressure to put on a particular performance in gender accordance with traditional roles (men=strong, aggressive, dominant, unemotional, breadwinners/women=housewives and childbearers, hysterical, weak and emotional, submissive) penalises those who do not conform to such and restricts the way we behave. Of course one can always say ‘no’ to these pressures, but when government, family and media all say its way things are done, it’s the way to be a ‘real’ or ‘good’ man or woman, then these things are restrictive, not empowering. An empowered person can fulil whatever role they want on their own terms without fearing that they are not doing it right, that they will not be socially censured or looking down on for not performing as expected.

      In my experience traditiona values do little to help this though, often promoting conformity along religious, family and conversative lines. I have known many people who have been on the receiving end of negative discrimination and abuse for their sex, religion, sexuality, or even just appearance, all in the name of preserving traditional values. I can’t change your experience or mine. It may be that we move in very different circles, or simply that your view of traditional values lines up with a different set of ideals in your head.

      People should have the right to be different, not the right to be discriminated against based on what tradition says is right or wrong. I have many friends to are models, photographers etc who work in the visual arts, some are the beautiful people, some collaborate with them to create their art. I have even done a little myself. Everyone has the right to feel like they are attractive, to express themselves with their body, from the conventionally attractive to the less so.

      Vive la difference indeed! I would like nothing more than life to be a carnival of weird and wonderful individuality. Any system that would give someone a crown and say that this one is a higher standard of your sex that you should aspire to instead of pursuing your own expression of your nature goes against this. One could still have official celebrations of beauty in contest form though, but there are plenty of ways to make it less sexist and more equal. For example, if the contest accepted both men and women (trans and cis) and everybody who wanted to got to vote?

    • A question for Charles. I’ve shown my reasons for thinking patriarchy is a bad thing. It occurs to me that you might think it is a good thing. Is this the case, and if so, why?

  7. I would just like to add ( for you to read in your extra time, which as i can see you have a lot of ) beauty pageant are not only based on being pretty as you say it. First question is what he hell do you know about pagents ? Next those girls who joint miss tween 12 work to there bone to Win there prizes, prizes are based on the highest points and point for the pagent consist on learning to work with others working as a group helping each other and becoming a better person for your self and others, collecting for charaties helping the elderly joining events like clean up the world ect the show night it self it only a part of who becomes queen the girls have there prizzes well deserved and im well proud of them and as for miss glamour, i joint miss glamour 6 years ago and ill proudly say its a big part of who i am today i learnt confidence indipendence i matured in many ways and i meet grate friend, i dont know what it is you do to help others but i feel like im helping keep girls of the street iven if its only 10 or 15 a year, so thax to my girls for helping me to help you and thax B for teaching me back then.
    And what ever your name is if you havnt anything better to do try chewing milk or get your self a dog… Might help boost up you sad sad life.

    • Hi Jyza

      I am glad to receive a response from a pageant participant, thank you! I am aware that there is lip service paid in beauty pageants to other aspects of personhood besides beauty. I would like to point out that I do not say or believe that anyone who organises or participates in them are bad people, or that they do no good for the community. You have every right to be proud of your charity work, your looks and friendships. I have a few questions for you that might help clarify your perspective though.

      Do you think that there is more pressure on women to look pretty than men?

      What’s involved in becoming a better person to yourself and others. Who is qualified to judge this?

      Why with the all the charity work that goes on, is the competition still called Miss Glamour and focused on looks? Why not make it all about what a person does?

      Do you think that traditionally feminine, ‘nurturing’ activities are more highly valued in pageants than say, being able to build, or write or stand up against something?

      Should someone who is ‘competetively pretty’ receive more kudos for doing charity and helping others then someone who is plain, or does it as part of their normal life?

      Can you tell us about how you matured and what it meant to you?

      What did the experience make you independent from? Is there a form of independence in submitting yourself to be judged?

      How are you helping girls off the street? What does being on the street mean for these girls and how is it bad? Would they be homeless or in danger if these pageants did not exist to shelter them during their running time? If girls on the streets are a big problem perhaps more time and effort should be devoted to helping them and promoting their welfare directly.

      NB: I am a man and so I had no Miss Glamour to rescue me from the street 😦

      Again thank you for coming foward a perspective like yours is very welcome. Your post infers that you are very busy helping everybody you can so I don’t expect a reply but it would be nice if you did. I would like to join you in thanking your girls and B for helping you become mature and independent.

      P.S. On the subject of maturity, I don’t expect every comment writer to be able to spell (even I mess up from time to time and I proofread), I do expect a mature tone so if you include any more personal attacks in your future replies I will not approve them. It’s not really the type of stuff you’d expect from someone who is confident and actively tries to better themselves. Same goes for anyone else. I’m not going to attack any of you, so play nice with each other too.

      I have a lot to do but I’m an excellent procrastinator and night owl. I also feel that anyone who takes the trouble to address me directly in an honest and polite way should get a response unless I somehow become way to poplular to do that (hah!). Despite there being a lot on my plate I also enjoy spending time with my dogs and cats, so I have that covered, thanks for your concern 😛

  8. Let’s get real. Beauty Contests aren’t about talent and charisma. If that was so then these girls would just go and enter a talent contest. It’s because it’s so old fashioned that they have to cover it up with this facade of CONFIDENZ AND TALENTZ AND CLEVERZ but you know it’s nothing to do with it, it’s just competition on looks, because that’s what girls are taught is the most important thing and if you’re the fairest of them all then you’re all set, you’re NUMBER ONE, nothing else to achieve. Kaianne went straight home when she was done. She did nothing with her title, it was just to be crowned the fairest and then go back home and make babies.

  9. To ‘the serpentscircle’ I love your posts keep them coming!

    So to begin ‘First question is what he hell do you know about pagents ?’ :

    Since Jayza questioned what the OP knew about pageants and did not at all attempt to educate him about them I’ve taken the liberty of putting together some info for anyone who might be interested:

    Pageants first became popular in the late 19th century. The first american ‘beauty contest’ was staged in 1854 by a showman and swindler named P.T Barnum (see link at the end for more info on him) but was shut down by protestors. Over time it started becoming more and more popular and newspapers held regular photographic beauty contests where contestants could send in photos of themselves and be judged by either a panel of judges or by readers (depending on the newspaper). Later worldwide beauty pageants were started such as :Miss World in 1951,
    Miss Universe in 1952, Miss International in 1960 and Miss Earth in 2001. Locally the Miss gibraltar pageant began in 1959 and was won by a lady named Viola Abudarham.

    Now personally I’d say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we each have our own opinion of what we feel is ‘beautiful’. As an artist I believe we are ALL naturally beautiful because we are all unique. This uniqueness is what I would call beauty.

    Take for example previous Miss Gib contestants Kaylee Origo and Amanda Galea. The amount of criticism (And support) they received from locals was immense! Why? Because they weren’t the cookie cutter girls we see on television, or online, or in every advert in our lives. But did they win? Of course not.

    Sadly I feel beauty pageants focus on what THE MEDIA is portraying as ‘beautiful’. At one point in time curvy natural women were shown by the media as the most attractive, now it has shifted to the other extreme where people are going under the knife and getting all sorts of surgeries from breast implants, nose jobs, paralysing their faces with botox or even surgically altering their GENITALIA!! Cosmetic surgery has become a HUGE business because of this constant need for people to feel what society is deeming ”beautiful”.

    People need to start embracing their natural beauty and I think that parading women that society deems ‘beauties’ up and down a catwalk, and crowning them the most beautiful women in ‘the world’ / ‘the universe’ / ‘gibraltar’ or wherever is only helping to keep this cookie cutter image of beauty alive and implanting the seed of self doubt in people that don’t fit that image.

    And I’ll leave you all with a quote from a science fiction author:

    “What you do, the way you think, makes you beautiful.”
    ― Scott Westerfeld.


  10. I’m late to this party, but going on Bianca’s (organiser of Misplaced Glamour Girls) comments in Gibraltar Politics, she teaches them to be confident and independent, teaches about safe sex and contraception, to be charitable, etc. These privileges only exist for the “prettiest” girls though. Still a form of segregation, if you ask me. My sister participated in Miss Glamour, much to the disapproval of my family.

    Bianca’s “B” magazine (according to her), is not sexist, and promotes positivity and empowerment for females, yet has AT LEAST a double page spread on advertising for plastic surgery. This further perpetuates beauty stereotypes and puts pressure on females to “better” oneself and “boost” their self-esteem by using expensive and unnecessary surgical procedures. The magazine is not a celebration of true beauty, it is encouraging young girls to become skinny clones with eating disorders. Individuality seems to be frowned upon. Where are the larger, curvier, girls who truly enjoy their food? Where is the girl who likes to wear black clothes and smoky eyeshadow? Where is the jeans and t-shirt wearing “girl next door”? Where is the female musician? Where is the girl who traverses the world building homes, volunteering as part of a charitable foundation?

    Why are diets promoted when no diet, ever, has been proven to work? Eat what you like, in moderation, and exercise regularly. Have your cake and eat it too, ladies (and gentlemen). Don’t worry about your “weight”. You’re not trying to lose weight, you’re trying to lose fat. When you burn off fat, through exercise, you build muscle mass (which is heavier than fat). Many would see that they’ll lose a little bit of weight at first and then gain some. There is nothing wrong with that.

    • Hi Kylandra, where is this double page spread???

      • Hi Bianca, to answer your question, and I would hate to embarrass you, here is the evidence of plastic surgery advertising in your magazine (all available online and in printed publications):
        May 2009 page 49
        June 2009 pages 50-51 (double page)
        July 2009 pages 24 and 85
        August 2009 pages 18-19 (double page)
        November 2011 page 32
        December 2011 page 31
        January 2012 page 40
        April 2012 page 40
        May 2012 pages 18 and 29
        August 2012 page 37
        September 2012 page 25
        November 2012 page 28

      • *July 2009 pages 24-25 (double page)

    • Hi Kylandra, I am not embarrassed at my magazine. On the contrary, I work very hard at something I truly enjoy. I bet that most people don’t like their 9 to 5 dead end jobs!

      In B Mag, we do cover topics on beauty, including skin specialists (Special Medical Clinic), beauty salons (Aphrodite) and yes, plastic surgery, a few issues/years back (looking at your list). The way you previously explained yourself was that B Mag currently had double page spreads on this matter. And even if I had PAID ADVERTSIERS wanting to place their advert in B Mag, what is wrong with that? Don’t other local magazines advertise these kind of businesses? This is a business at the end of the day!!!

      I see you have a misconception of the magazine, criticising that we encourage girls to become skinny with eating disorders… PLEASE!!! We have had all types of issues, interviews, and writeups for the past 4 years, plus used upto a size 18 for the cover and as young as 65!

      It would also be nice of you, seen as you have mistaken belief of B Magazine, to write to me in private and let me know what you would change in the mag…. We are always up for new and fresh ideas.

      Reference to Miss Glamour, I am not going to repeat myself… I already replied to Nicholas.

      On a final note, thank you for your public post… your opinion is very valuable to me as it will help me improve the magazine ☺

  11. Hi Nicholas,

    Before you continue reading, please do not take the following in a wrong tone. People can misinterpret messages and can lead to negative debates.

    Firstly I would like to clarify that I am the organiser of Miss Glamour (11 Years!), plus two other competitions, and still going strong. At present I am organising my 25th production, which makes me think I must be doing something right, positive and successful for the community.

    Everyone has the right to their own opinion, and I am not here to try and change anyone’s mind, but nevertheless, why did you mention Miss Glamour in your original post? Do you know that we offer more than just the “beauty” side of it? Do you know that there are about another 8 beauty pageants here in Gibraltar, (which I can think of), but you chose to name and shame mine as “meaningless”. Have I done anything to upset or offend you? If I have, I truly am sorry, as it’s not in my nature to want to deliberately upset anyone.

    By all means I am all for freedom of speech, but without brining people down. There are ways of putting your point across without mentioning organisations and names. I have worked very hard over the years to gain my reputation. As the saying goes: ‘Please don’t judge me until you know me, and don’t talk about me until you’ve talked to me’.

    I have certain opinions and concerns about other things, but at no point would I demoralise or insult anyone in a public blog/forum.

    Secondly, it would be interesting to know what you know about pageants? Seen from your facebook, you don’t look like the kind of person interested in these kinds of competitions. It seems you are more into Goth and rock musician. Maybe I am wrong. But first impressions do count!

    With reference to Miss Kaiane Aldorino, I am sure that there is still a massive percentage of the population of Gibraltar that are still very proud of her achievement. Whether or not she chose to stay in Gib to continue with her normal life, that is up to her. Again, freedom of her decision! Some people should learn to respect that.

    I will answer some of your questions, seeing as you have a misconception on what Miss Glamour actually is, but please do not take my answers in the wrong tone:

    1 – Do you think that there is more pressure on women to look pretty than men?
    No not really… did you know that there are also competitions for men, including ‘Mr World’, ‘Manhunt’, ‘Mr International’, just to name a few. Why do people always see the wrong in female pageants and not in men? Many men in our society are becoming more and more metrosexual. Also, have you seen all the latest music videos with all these masculine toned, tanned and oiled bodies… don’t you think that men also have pressure to look as good? Another example is the chain of shops of Hollister. Nicely figured boys in just their swimming trunks attending clients at the shop. I personally believe there is nothing wrong with looking good and taking care of yourself, but that’s just me.

    2 – What’s involved in becoming a better person to yourself and others. Who is qualified to judge this?
    The Miss Glamour programme provides an opportunity for young ladies to better themselves. Each year we work to provide a fair environment in which the contestants have the opportunity to compete not against others, but against themselves. The pageant encourages the contestants to build self-confidence, individual pride, and a greater self-awareness. We do not encourage them to “win” a pageant, but to encourage them to develop life skills, that will ultimately help them win in life by giving their personal best in everything they do. Our program places an emphasis on excellence, academic achievements, personal growth and most importantly, for me, the importance of public speaking and the building of self confidence. We also strive to make the pageant experience fun.

    On the judging side, well… all I can say, life is a competition in itself, weather we want to accept it or not… starting from a very young age. Be it an art competition, dance competition, battle of the bands, essay competition, best sportsman/women, designer competitions, photographic competitions, homework/grades at school or uni, at your work place, the list is endless, the human race strives for personal gain/achievement and improvement in whatever field they are interested in… now, who says that people are qualified to judge them or the way western culture has evolved in this way? Everyone has the right to enter any competition with understanding that they are going to be judged and accept the results… if not, they do not enter! In art, pageants, dance, music, quiz, mastermind, university challenge etc… competition is healthy and accepted.

    3 – Why with the all the charity work that goes on, is the competition still called Miss Glamour and focused on looks? Why not make it all about what a person does?
    The only reason I named it Miss Glamour because of the word ‘Glamorous’. I feel that ALL women deserve to feel glamorous at one point or another. Some women like to be pampered, feel good about themselves, learn about life skills. We actually encourage the girls to follow their dreams… be it an accountant, doctor, teacher, model, etc. We try as much as possible to make it about them… at the end of the day Miss Glamour is for young ladies between the ages of 15-20, many of which are still studying, aiming to go to uni and others are already working. So, basically I cannot make the pageant about what a person does.

    4 – Do you think that traditionally feminine, ‘nurturing’ activities are more highly valued in pageants than say, being able to build, or write or stand up against something?
    Being able to build, or write or stand up against something…. Well… these girls are not ‘stupid’ just because they have chosen to enter a pageant, which by the way they have to get parental approval, if under 18. They know how to write, read, they have attended school, and the majority of them actually end up going to uni to further their studies. To add on, some of our past contestants and winners have actually succeeded in their goals and have become qualified accountants, teachers, midwives, nurses, personal trainers, nutritionists, just to name a few. One of last year’s contestants is in uni at the moment studying law! This is a free country, why portray them as ‘stupid’ on their decision on entering a beauty pageant?

    5 – Should someone who is ‘competitively pretty’ receive more kudos for doing charity and helping others then someone who is plain, or does it as part of their normal life?
    There are loads of women from all walks of life, shapes and sizes helping the community here in Gibraltar. And just to clarify, Miss Glamour over the years has raised thousands of pounds for charities. We have also accepted young ladies of all sorts of shapes, sizes, ethos … and not always has what could have been precieved as the “prettiest” girl with the best body won! And if the woman is stunningly beautiful, then why detest and hate her for it? Appreciating someone for their beauty and mind can be difficult. As an example, the Miss World organisation has raised millions of pounds for charities worldwide… why should she be frowned upon because of her good looks? Another example is Miss Universe. Miss Universe uses her title to champion HIV/AIDS prevention, particularly among adolescents. During her reign, Miss Universe works with the Latino Commission on AIDS, Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and YouthAIDS/PSI among other organisations. The vast majority of contestants these days in Miss World are actually university graduates.

    6 – How are you helping girls off the street? What does being on the street mean for these girls and how is it bad? Would they be homeless or in danger if these pageants did not exist to shelter them during their running time? If girls on the streets are a big problem perhaps more time and effort should be devoted to helping them and promoting their welfare directly.
    Without mentioning any names, over the years I have helped some young ladies with very big personal problems/issues. Which for obvious reasons I cannot go into further details, sorry. You can never judge people until you have walked a mile in their shoes! Some young ladies, when they have personal issues, they feel more comfortable talking to another person rather than their parents. In the Miss Glamour, they can open up their feelings without been judged and I try to give them the best advice as possible. I agree that more should be done to help our youth, especially those in need, but shouldn’t you have been directing that question more to our government than pageant organisers?

    Our program lasts for 8-weeks during the summer period. Some of the girls that have nothing better to do, as school has finished, choose to enter the competition by choice. But yet again, some of the girls do get summer jobs and they have attended classes when they have finished work. We also work around the contestants so they don’t miss out in any of the workshops.

    Again, please do not take my answers in the wrong tone. Personally, you should have not mentioned Miss Glamour or any other persons in your blog. You are in your own right to write whatever you wish (freedom of speech), but unless you have enough evidence against a person or organisation, you have no right to describe Miss Glamour as “meaningless”. So I would therefore appreciate it if you would delete your comment regarding Miss Glamour.

    I realise this isn’t a popular opinion for many who read it. Your post has had many people stone me with outbursts regarding female degradation, pretension, shameless displays of corporate greed and selfishness, and the misrepresentation of average women. Before one casts the first stone, I think it’s important to note that the world of pageantry has its good sides as well. Snobby and competitive women (and men!) exist EVERYWHERE.

    My final thoughts, beauty pageants have been around for many years and for many years it has been frowned upon, yet at the same time it has gained popularity, hence the amount of beauty pageants we see worldwide. My suggestion is to LIVE & LET LIVE, each to their own. There is no way I would start to judge you for putting on mascara or wanting to dress and look the way you do. It’s none of my business, and if you are happy the way you are then it shouldn’t be of anyone else’s concern either. There is an old saying, ‘If you haven’t got something good to say, it’s best not to say anything’.

    On a final note, I haven’t written to you to enter a long heated debate, I just felt you should have a little more insight into the pageantry world, plus as I explained further up, to ask you to please amend your initial attack by name at one of my pageants. Not everyone is thick skinned, and the time and sacrifice I have given to this industry is actually hurtful to read after over 10 years for it to be considered as “meaningless”.

    • Not going to debate (out of respect for your desire to avoid one and also so as not to repeat myself on anything). Would just like to thank you for your feedback and clarify that the ‘meaningless’ in parenthesis in the OP is simply my first impression of the name, not a value judgement on your particular pageant. It’s staying as it is though, out of honesty towards the reader regarding said impression. It is in fact the meaning of pageants which interested me in the first place, but even more so their significance in being so prominently featured in community cultural events such as the Cavalcade.

  12. I agree with you entirely Kylandra & theserpentscircle has really hit the nail on the head with this one!

  13. Underage beauty pageants should be outlawed…period. Whether consciously or not they are sexualising children which is kind of ironic given the constant barrage of hysteria over the likes of Jimmy Saville. What the organisers will not admit to you as a reason is that they are making good money from it and, as with other profits made from “voluntary” activities in Gibraltar, not taxed.

  14. I respect all views, opinions and tastes, but in my opinion beauty pageants are totally out of context in today’s world and totally undermine the modern woman. To put things in perspective, why are there hardly any male beauty pageants? They just look upsurd.
    Why then have female ones?

    • If it involves adults, fine, it is really up to them, but to exploit the insecurities and dreams of little girls should quite simply be outlawed. The charity work does not justify it, just do charity work if that is what it is about, why do all the beauty part.

  15. Interesting you pointed out that sponsors include employers and its not a great example for them to set – I hadn’t even thought about that aspect! Great article in general and I think a lot of locals agree.

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