Beauty Pageants: What constitutes physical & cultural beauty?

Whenever we discuss issues and ideals related to physical beauty and women’s bodies, we need to be conscious of the “male gaze.” In basic terms, the concept refers to heterosexual men objectifying women and judging their value almost entirely on physical characteristics. 

It is within this context that many women and men criticize the existence of beauty pageants altogether: they are often premised on, and result in, the objectification of women, while also reinforcing gender roles and male supremacy.

Just as important, beauty pageants around the world can also result in the homogenization of women. These visual displays are often framed around a set of predetermined norms or prevailing opinions about what heterosexual men consider attractive or erotic. 

This is not to say that many men and women do not appreciate and covet different physical standards, only that this is the dominant cultural standard. 

aken together, the male gaze in general and beauty pageants in particular set the stage for modern societies to equate physical appearance and a specific attractiveness with value judgments of superior versus inferior.

Beauty pageants still exist, I wonder does it change the messages it’s delivering these days? Most of the research I came across were from 6 years ago, has anything changed since then?

Plan for next stage:

  • Find expert and stakeholders
  • Reach out to expert and stakeholders
  • Compose interview question to gather more information

Reference list

ABRAHAM, A. (2019). ‘I want to fight in a pageant gown’ – an interview with Miss World 2019. [online] Dazed. Available at: [Accessed 10 Sep. 2020].

C.N. Le (2014). The Homogenization of Asian Beauty – The Society Pages. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Sep. 2020].

Kim, H. (2014). Controversial Pageant’s Contestants Don’t Look the Same. [online] Cosmopolitan. Available at: [Accessed 10 Sep. 2020].