There are 2 inconclusive conclusions I’ve recently come to appreciate. One is that nobody’s perfect. Two is that nobody lives in reality. These aren’t grand new observations, but just the kind of thing one grows to understand more over time. It helps me deal with other people and with my relationship to them. We’re all going to butt heads occasionally, and other times get along swimmingly. Along with these two things I’ve increasingly become distrustful of political opinions, including my own. People’s politics too often simply represent their stake in the game. People advocate for whatever their own (probably short term ) self-interest is, and so whenever considering someone’s political opinion, one needs to consider the source. There’s more. I also see people more and more as not bodies, but as unique intersections of circumstances. And so, when it comes to whether or not Miss America should or shouldn’t have a swimsuit part of the contest, I know people’s’ opinions are going to A) be imperfect B) reflect a partial reality C) be self-interested. And D) come from their unique confluence of circumstances.
I left out something important there, which is paradigms. I’m becoming ever more cognizant of what paradigms people subscribe to, recently especially in terms of art. Once you get on the bandwagon of a popular paradigm, a lot of your conclusions are already pre-determined for you. So, add one more to the list above. E) subscribe to this or that overarching paradigm.
The picture I shared above of a bikini dancing contest was parodic in intent, though I know that some people like that one the best of the images I’ve created. It was supposed to mimic click-bait, and especially the thumbs for YouTube videos [Note that it was successful because several people took it to use as their own video thumbnails, without my permission.]. People start to get the irony when they eventually notice the size of the wave in the background, and then realize swell in the title Swell with Bikini Dancing Girls refers to an enormous wave, and not my feeling about said girls. [If you wanna’ know more about this old piece by me, process, interpretation, and details, go here.]
Because I tend to find politicizing anathema, I’m more inclined to dismantle ridiculous or rigid ideological positions on the extremes, which don’t allow for other views, than to hit people over the head with my own.
In the title of this article I gave away that I think getting rid of the swimsuit portion of a Miss America contest is a bit weird. That’s about as involved as I care to get. They say we should judge the women more for what’s in their head than for physical beauty, but I always thought beauty pageants were about physical beauty. If people don’t like the idea that Miss America is about physical beauty, why not just jettison the whole pageant as irrelevant?
I gather this is on one level, for some people, about the notion that a Miss America is someone who looks good in a bikini, and not someone who uses her mind to create a better world. Got it. Create a new contest for whatever your idea of the ideal American woman is. And if it must be the institution of the Miss America pageant that must change with the times, OK, as long as other people are still allowed to wear what they want and show off their bodies to an admiring audience if they want. If you just want to change what a particular institution represents, uuuuuuh, OK-ish. The idea that ALL bikini contests must go would get a stronger response from me, but when we get to that extreme I’m pretty sure any nay-sayers better keep a lid on it for their own safety, or move to a country that still has bikinis. It could be a litmus test.
Personally, I’d prefer to live in a world with bikinis and bikini contests in it. I’ve never bothered to attend one, and can’t quite imagine doing so, but I’m not bothered particularly by it any more than I am by body building contests. These days, as long as you aren’t ACTUALLY hurting people by doing something, I’m for tolerating it.
And I do see body-building contests as a rough parallel, as they represent idealized and for most people unattainable standards of masculine beauty. Y’know, the girls have to diet and exercise and have the right sort of anatomy to begin with, and the guys have the same thing. By the way, Mr. America is a body building contest. It’s been around since 1939. And, uh, you’ve heard that thing about “tall, dark, and handsome” right? Sooooooo, there are preconceived notions of masculine attractiveness. Should we be getting rid of male physique contests as well? Or is it just if the name of the contest can be, er, tortuously interpreted to mean that Mr. America is an ideal for all men?
Would people who are against the bikini segment of a Miss America pageant be OK with a separate and probably unrelated contest called, “Miss Bikini America?” I’d be more inclined to agree with those than the ban-all-bikini-contests types. I’m not a big fan of hunting either, or nude beaches, or golf, or Star Trek conventions… In those cases we just, to quote the 60’s, “live and let live”, and we don’t conclude that they are a problem for people who aren’t directly involved with them (ex., just because some people teach themselves to speak Klingon doesn’t mean they are saying we must all be forced to learn it…)
We can allow people to have body-building contests (men and women) without needing to oppose it on the grounds that it creates unrealistic body images, or puts far too much emphasis on physical attributes and virtually none on the mental. I think we get that there are people who are into that, people who aren’t, and it’s only really a priority for those that are really into it. Other people care more about their prized aquarium fish, Chess ranking, patents, IQ scores, financial portfolio, high score in computer games, and what have you. Are bikini contests different?
Are bikini contests degrading to women? Perhaps not to those who voluntarily partake in them. Is there something wrong with having an attractive body? Should we cover them up? I’d just say there are different venues and paradigms where different qualities people have are needed or appreciated. If you’ve read this far it wasn’t because of my summer swimsuit body.
Sure, sure, we shouldn’t hold all women up to physical beauty standards set by beauty pageant winners, but what if your outstanding characteristic is your physical beauty? Should you be denied employment based on that? Again, of course it’s painfully obvious that judging women, across the board, entirely or mostly based on physical appearance is stupid and ass-backwards. I think we knew that before I was born, and this is belaboring the obvious. But just because we judge women’s physical beauty in a voluntary contest based on beauty doesn’t mean we apply that standard to everyone, or anyone else.
Swimsuit contests are about on par with WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) in terms of my personal interest level. But why deny other people the enjoyment of things they are interested in or partake in? Wrestling should die when it no longer has fans or wrestlers, and perhaps the same applies to swimsuit contests. As long as people still enjoy it, and it’s not hurting anyone, I’m not going to try to force people to stop doing it.
And I’m guessing here that a lot of the same people who are against swimsuit contests are for people wearing revealing costumes in pride parades or slut walks. I’m fine with all that. Everyone can strut their stuff in my world, and if I don’t like it, I don’t have to watch.