Miss Universe officials flaunt their idiocy

February 05, 1997|By GREGORY KANE

Beware of AIBP. Another one airs tonight on network television, providing yet one more reason for getting cable or a satellite dish hooked up to your home.

What is AIBP? Another Idiotic Beauty Pageant. In light of recent developments, we should all ask ourselves why we continue to support such nonsense.

The most hilarious development -- or at least it would be, if it weren't so degrading -- is the flap over, of all things, the weight of Venezuela's Alicia Machado. Machado is the reigning Miss Universe. At the age of 20, you would think she is woman enough to make decisions about certain things in her life -- such as her weight, for instance.

Machado stands 5-foot-7. When she won the Miss Universe title in May, she weighed 112 pounds. By August, she had gained 27 pounds. Pageant officials went into a panic and ordered her to lose the weight.

A wire story of Jan. 29 said Machado had 22 more pounds to lose before she is considered "beautiful" again. She has, according to the story, the support of Donald Trump, a co-owner of the pageant who referred to Machado as "the eating machine."

Donald Trump setting standards of beauty? I must have missed something here. I've known women to get weak at the knees at the mere mention of John Kennedy Jr., the perfect combination of his mother's and father's good looks. I've heard women swoon over Mel Gibson, Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes and Tom Cruise. But I've yet to hear any declare Trump "Mr. Heartthrob." Having him set standards for beautiful women is much akin to having the Three Stooges judge a Mensa competition.

This, folks, is downright insulting. It's not only insulting to women. It's insulting to men. Beauty pageants assume we menfolk like one type of woman only: tall and slender. Those men who thought Machado was a bag of bones at 112 pounds but deliciously sultry at 140 pounds must have something wrong with them, if we're to take beauty pageant hustlers seriously.

And the sad thing is all too many of us do. We take it so seriously that we even subject our children to the beauty pageant mania. JonBenet Ramsey, the Boulder, Colo., 6-year-old who was slain in December, was also known as the winner of the Little Miss Colorado beauty pageant. Pictures of JonBenet in tabloid magazines have shown her dressed up for beauty pageants like a woman, complete with makeup.

There are a couple of dozen things wrong with this, not the least of which is that 6-year-old girls are not women. They're 6-year-old girls. They should be treated as such and allowed to be such. Anything else amounts to stealing their innocence and their childhood. Poor JonBenet's was stolen long before her life was. We stole it, with our obsession with what is beautiful and what is not.

And our obsession seems to concern only women and girls. We certainly wouldn't dream of having 6-year-old boys in a pageant designed to determine who's the cutest. Beauty pageants exist for one purpose and one purpose only -- to perpetuate the notion that women are sexual playthings for men. Every pageant organizer will deny that, of course, but frankly I have more respect for the guys who go down to the nudie bars and stuff dollar bills in women's garter belts. At least they're more honest in what they're about.

The Miss Universe officials, with their mania about Machado's weight, have certainly shown us what ital they're endital about. We now know what their priorities really are. For those who are as sick of beauty pageants as I am, this incident provides us with a golden opportunity. We can support Machado. We can urge her to eat to her heart's content. We can exhort her to gain as much weight as ital her endital doctor -- not the pageant's doctor -- considers healthy.

A message needs to be sent here: beautiful women come in all shapes, sizes, races and colors. And we don't need pageants to prove that. Common folks may not know much, but damn it, we know what we like.

So does Machado. After undergoing the torture of winning the Miss Universe pageant, wire stories quoted her as saying she would "do something I haven't been able to do in three weeks: eat, eat, eat and sleep." Machado's friends, the story said, revealed "she succumbed to a passion for pasta and cake."

Pasta and cake, huh? You go, girl.

Pub Date: 2/05/97

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