Business Insider Fashion Week Just Went Plus-Size: A Major Step For The Industry Is Decked Out ... Huffington Post Meet Eden Miller, the first ever plus-sized clothing designer with a show in New York Fashion Week.
In the short documentary on plus-sized beauty pageants, There She Is, a moment sticks out. The winner is reflecting on her one-year reign as the American Beauties Plus Pageant winner and expresses disappointment that the red carpet hasn’t been rolled out in honour of her victory like she’d envisioned. It’s a genuinely heartbreaking moment after following the stories of two very lovely contestants who both admit they’ve struggled with self confidence and the negative judgements of others. It appears the stamp of approval offered by winning the pageant hasn’t brought any of the inner peace they’d hoped for (which isn’t that surprising given its focus on the outer). I feel like it’s an instant many of us, no matter our size, have experienced, that point when you realise chasing beauty is a quest with no actual true endpoint of “Yay, I’m finally fine!”
Plus-sized beauty pageants sell themselves as a celebration of a different ideal of feminine beauty. And it does seem there could be a small argument to be made for them serving a positive purpose. After all they offer an alternative vision of beauty, one that is not bound by the rather restrictive sizes of ‘from six to eight’. But do women really need more visions of beauty to be bound by?
On deeper examination it’s hard to see any sort of beauty pageant, plus-sized or not, as a step forward. Can beauty pageants really solve anything at all except to satiate our feelings of schadenfreude at seeing beautiful people sputter uncomfortably answering political questions? And the problem is right there smack bang in the title, no matter how much contestants and organisers might yammer on about ‘inner beauty’ and being ‘the total package’ these competitions are about looks. After all, if it was a pageant about non-superficial skills it would be called a ‘talent show’. Truth is it’s just more objectification that all sizes can now participate in, but dressed up in a sparkly sash of faux empowerment and inclusion.
It’s hard not to see the extension of these pageants as a cynical commercial ploy to make more money by diversifying the market to include those women who can’t enter the straight-sized competitions (much like what has been done by the Toddlers & Tiaras and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo led boom in child beauty pageants). And we’re not exactly talking about small change here. To enter the Miss American Beauties Plus Pageant is $575USD a pop (or as they weirdly list it on their website “ONLY $575” – my definition and theirs of ‘only’ obviously severely differs). And that’s before factoring in optional competition fees, outfits, hair and make-up, hotel stays and meal costs. You’re paying quite a pretty penny to have your prettiness professionally judged, it seems.
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