Miss Landmine Angola 2008
Somehow I doubt that this would attract major network coverage in the U.S. with our warped views on what is beautiful. Here is a story from CNN.com on a beauty pageant in Angola for victims of landmines who have lost limbs. Some would call this exploitation based on disability. Some would call it a way to call attention to a scourge that is affecting thousands and thousands of people all around the world.
Though it is certainly not a “freak show” as some have suggested, one’s attitude toward the existence of a pageant such as this says a lot about where they are, culturally.
Meaning: I live in the U.S. so my opinion does not matter as much as that of someone in Angola, where people live every day worried about being the victim of, or losing a loved one to, a mine. Therefore, for them, a pageant like this appears different than to my outsider’s eyes. To them, the women in this pageant are members of an entire subculture with a voice waiting to be heard, and this is one way for them to speak up.
Besides, in the U.S. there are “beauty pageants” strictly for the blind, for the deaf, and for women in wheelchairs. What makes this any different?
But politics and humanitarian efforts aside, as I have suggested in other postings, I would like to see the day when a woman, in a wheelchair for example, could participate in a pageant alongside women who are not disabled, without it being an issue. I know, however, that this is unlikely, because it seems that the idea of beauty is universally such that it would be hard to judge two people equally when one is missing limbs, or one has limbs that where formed differently than the others. Is the Miss Landmine Angola 2008 Pageant helping bring the world closer to this day or is it just highlighting the seperateness of those with disabilities?
We are quite possibly talking about two very different issues because of the differences in political climate, and culture. What do you think?
PS: I felt a little uncomfortable writing, earnestly, about something as superficial as a “beauty pageant” in the first place, but it fits in with some of the themes I have been trying to develop here at treadmarkz.wordpress.com.