This morning I read out loud the above opinion piece and by the last paragraph I couldn't keep my voice composed nor the tears in my eyes. I wondered why it made me react in such a way. I had just read the piece "The Next Genocide" (about the potential for Nazi-theory genocide in Russia, China, and Africa) with such conviction and strength. Therefore, I wondered how could a piece that only seemed to ramble on about pageantry make me come to tears and feel relief?
I felt relief because, as a former and current pageant contestant, I struggle with the same paradox: feeling guilty about, yet still judging women. Moreover, I'm very willingly offering others legitimate authority to judge me. I framed my thoughts around this paradox in three points. First, I struggle with the general idea of judging: who I am to judge others? What right or qualitifications, if there are any, to judge others on anything? Second, if I were comfortable with judging others, it would and can only be based on their actions. Many say that we can judge others' characters. I wonder, however, of the people we've made initial poor judgements of, how many do we spend enough time with to develop a well-rounded idea of their character? And third, does it really matter what I think about other women? Shouldn't I simply focus on developing myself? Yet, despite having all these questions, I signed up for the 4th time in my life to be judged in multiple ways, officially and unofficially, by people I've probably never met.
I think this opinion piece made me feel a sense of relief because I realized that I am not alone in struggling with such a paradox. As the author struggles with being a good role model for her children, I struggle with developing an identity for myself as a woman. I want to believe that I am going on the pageant stage to challenge myself and the 10 week process is preparing for displaying my inherent poise, talent, and beauty on stage simultaneously preparing me for maintaining composure and character under circumstances completely out of my control.
While I had the aforementioned idea of what I'm getting into, this opinion piece made me remember that there is so much more involved to pageantry. What stereotypes of women, pageantry, and beauty are you propagating by partaking in this pageant? To whom are you sending what messages? How does, if at all, the pageant develop or breakdown the character you're trying so hard to build? What identity are you building as a woman?
I haven't come to any solid answers for myself. Nevertheless, I plan to use this pageant to develop answers. For now, I can confidently say that I'm ready to tackle the initial challenges I had in mind for this pageant and I will try my best to tackle any others that come along.