Friday, April 13, 2012

Thoughts on Beauty Pageants

I got to thinking about beauty pageants while out walking today, and I decided to record my stream of consciousness:

I'm generally not a fan of beauty pageants, largely because the beauty on display is so artificial. (To be honest, I'm not a fan of popularity contests in general, because they cater to the majority. But on a related note, here's an excellent movie recommendation: Little Miss Sunshine). But nudist beauty pageants are a little different, as their emphasis is on natural beauty. But the history of beauty pageants in the international nudist community is not free from controversy. My own feelings are mixed.

On the one hand, as a nudist, I believe that people should not be judged by their appearance, and it is this belief that leads many nudists to reject the [arguably out-dated] tradition of nudist beauty pageants, which can be said to reflect the overly judgmental mindset of the ultra-critical (and often sex-obsessed) textile world.

On the other hand, as an aesthetic artist, I like to admire beauty, and it is a natural fact that I will find some bodies more beautiful than others (that's the truth about beauty). And I'm not ashamed to admit that. Of course, beauty is not the SOLE measure of a person's worth, and beauty itself can be highly subjective. In fact, it's surprising how much one person's idea of beauty can differ from another's.

So, what happens during a beauty pageant is that one or more persons who has the most popular form of beauty will be awarded, while the others are showered with the shame of losing. Personally, I think we should continue to admire beauty, but eliminate the element of competition.

While it's true that competition can inspire a person to achieve greater heights, how much of our appearance can we actually take credit for (sans wardrobe and makeup, of course)? Exercising and working out, maybe. But some people are much luckier than others, requiring significantly less effort to look attractive (and in different stages of their life). Should we award them for that, beyond the award of being attractive that they already possess?

Perhaps we could have an athletic competition, to encourage a fit and healthy lifestyle, while keeping the admiration of beauty as a component of the games' attraction. The athletics could be a competition (or not, does it really have to be?), and the beauty would just be there to admire. It would perhaps be not unlike the ancient Greek Olympics where athletes would train naked, and their naked, chiseled bodies were a source of pride and admiration.

The only difference, I suppose, from a regular day at the nudist resort, where games are scheduled, is that people will be encouraged and not discouraged from admiring the bodies of others (I would hope, also, that this emphasis on appearance would, in the long run, bring in a more visually appealing demographic). But that's something I think a lot of nudists fear. Funny, that nudists are comfortable with traditionally "ugly" bodies, but they're terrified of beautiful ones, because they don't know what to do with them, how their presence fits in with their "all bodies welcome" philosophy (ironically).

And it is an irony, also, that the majority of nudists, at least in my experience, are not especially physically attractive (although that may be true of the population at large). Perhaps the nudist environment is a sanctuary for them, where, unlike everywhere else, they don't have to feel inferior for being unattractive.

How can we make ugly people feel welcome, while simultaneously recognizing the joy of beauty? Is it not possible? Because that would be a shame. I would love to live in a world where people take pride in their appearance, and the beautiful are allowed to show off (ALL of their bodies). But I don't want "ugly" people to feel inferior as a result. My approach is to say that if you don't have beauty, then enjoy the beauty of others, and find the other qualities that make you an interesting person. But don't disparage people who are beautiful. How is that any different than people criticizing you for being ugly?

I would hate to see nudist resorts and nudist culture turn into a sort of "ugly bodies haven". Part of the appeal of nudity (not all of it, by a long stretch, but an important part nonetheless) is admiring attractive bodies. I'm not going to give that up in order to adhere to an ultra PC nudist philosophy. It's not what nudity is ALL about, and most of nudism is separate from that, but just because I'm a nudist, or engaged in nudism, doesn't mean I'm willing to give up that other part of the appeal of nudity. For me, it doesn't have to be either/or, it can be both. And it's best when it's both.

How's this as an idea for evening the odds? Beautiful people should have a social obligation (not legal, so they aren't required, but social, so they'll be open to criticism if they decline - sort of like how celebrities have less expectation of privacy in their lives, within reason of course) to display themselves, for example by participating in these games. That way, ugly people could get the benefit of admiring beautiful people, and they would have the added privilege of being able to sit out of the games. They'd be privileged, not disadvantaged, by their lack of beauty.

It's really a shame that so many people (in the default, textile world) hide their bodies. How do you even know what body types exist (let alone which you're attracted to) if you've only seen a small fraction of them?

So in conclusion, I don't think nudist beauty pageants should be eliminated completely, but they SHOULD be replaced with a less competitive version - a nudist olympics, if you will - where people of various ages engage in athletics in front of spectators, and bodies are showcased, but not voted on. And, of course, photography would be explicitly PERMITTED, though I don't think many nudists (in my neck of the woods, at least) would be willing to agree with me on that one.

tl;dr - Beauty should be a celebration, not a competition.

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