In the last year, I have been invited to participate in four beauty pageants (as a Producer and not a contestant). And despite the fact that I love (I mean absolutely love) organizing events, I turned all four down. Two of these pageants are renowned and no doubt I would have been handsomely paid for my job.
The other two are less known but still likely to be a great cash maker for the organizers. So why did I, a single mother with children to feed turn down a potentially lucrative deal? Because I am principled and believe not all money is good money. And when you are as principled as I am, believe me, many “good” things will pass you by. But I love the fact that at the end of the day, when I spend my money, I spend it knowing I acquired it through means that do not make me feel ashamed of myself.
So what has all this got to do with beauty pageants? Well let me tell you. Spending money I acquire from organizing a beauty pageant would make me feel so awful about myself because I am against beauty pageants. It would be hypocritical of me, an African woman who is against black people wearing hair weaves as their own hair to organize an event which promotes this very thing. But I must confess, when I first arrived in Ghana and worked as a Copywriter / Producer at (Lowe) Lintas, because Lux soap was one of my brands, I worked on Miss Lux beauty pageant from 1996 -2000.
From conceptualization of the event to scripting to stage management to choreography to Emcee, I have been there, done that and written the book! There it is out. I have confessed and feel better. May the universe forgive me for I did not know any better. You see, back in those days, I was just doing my job. I was writing or choreographing or stage managing an event. What I failed to realize was that I was part of the team now promoting and imposing the Western idea of beauty on Africans. Since I came to this realization in 2000, I vowed to myself never to take part in any more beauty pageants.
In all fairness though even in those days, I always fought for girls with natural hair to be included, but always, always the rest of the team would laugh me off. It is amazing but in organizing a beauty pageant in Africa, for Africans, contestants with natural hair are laughed off and mocked by the African event organizers. Even pageants which claim to be about recognizing true African beauty or the true African woman (Miss Malaika, Miss African Queen, Miss Black is Beautiful) eliminate women with natural hair at the very beginning of the auditions.
I have written and talked about the black woman and her false hair and I think by now you all know where I stand on that issue, so I will not really go into it too much here. But I will say this, it is absolutely pathetic that an African woman’s beauty is defined by the false Brazilian or Indian hair she can afford to weave onto her natural God-given hair!
So let me move on and tell give you other reasons why I no longer organize or produce a beauty pageant. The first reason is beauty pageants have now become the way for uncreative people to make money. Why do I say that? People who organize beauty pageants know that sex sells. Look, how many male beauty pageants are out there compared to the female ones?
And when it comes to beauty pageants for women, who are the contestants? Are they not young girls, normally in tertiary level education? In some instances, it has been known for these young girls to go out and source their own sponsorship. The stories of sexual favours that are demanded before these girls can secure the monies needed to participate are incredible.
Some of the event organizers themselves are in on the act and can be considered no better than a pimp putting his prostitutes to work. I have heard of event organizers who as “publicity” or “PR” for their event take their female contestants to bars and watering holes known as “boys boys” clubs. Now tell me is this not pimping? I mean if we are seriously talking about “publicity” and “PR” why limit taking the female contestants to popular male haunts? Why not take them say to an all girls school?