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Does beauty lie in a bikini?

Published : Jun 10, 2018, 12:27 am IST
Updated : Jun 10, 2018, 12:27 am IST

We get experts to air their opinion on an issue each week and lend their perspective on a much-discussed topic.

Cara Mund at the 2018 Miss America Competition.
 Cara Mund at the 2018 Miss America Competition.

In what could be termed as a historical move, the Miss America beauty pageant recently scrapped off the bikini round, which judges women based on their physical appearance. The move was quick to trigger a debate about body stereotypes and unrealistic beauty standards. As #ByeByeBikini began trending, Twitterati split into two. While many of the likes of American beauty pageant titleholder Cara Mund saw it as the dawn of a new era, others, like Shana Sissel, who competed for Miss Rhode Island, felt otherwise. In her tweets, Shana expressed sadness disappointment over the decision, saying, "As someone who competed and benefitted from the system I'm disappointed to learn it will no longer value women like me."

While most beauty pageants follow similar shortlisting pattern by highlighting the skills and talent of the contestants, the swimsuit round has been a matter of controversy for long. However, disapproving the decision, many men think that covering up women is no way of empowerment. Adding to their sentiments, many former pageant winners opined that swimsuit competitions taught them mental toughness and developed confidence.

We gather opinions from pageant winners, models and beauty pageant organisers on scrapping the bikini round from contests.

Talent is no skin show
Dr Ajit Ravi, chairman, Pegasus Event Makers

As a pageant organiser, I have always ensured that none of my events have swimsuit rounds because I believe that beauty has nothing to do with skin show. A pageant is not about physical beauty alone; the aim is to find a beauty with brains. If bikini rounds are aimed at judging the figure, instead of stripping, they can go for a cocktail round or a tight cocktail round. Also, many models when they decide to get married, regret the bikini photo shoots of the past, but there would be nothing they can do to erase it from digital space. Pageants are public events and a simple Google check of their name can bring out their past. So for all reasons, doing away with the bikini round is a wise and commendable move.

Swimsuit round unnecessary
Preet Karnawal, Model

I don't think that swimsuit rounds are disrespectful to women, but at the same time, I would say that a swimsuit round is unnecessary in beauty pageants. There are pageants which decide a winner without conducting a swimsuit round. To judge the shape, pageants have fitness wear rounds. Recently, the Miss World Organisation stated that a perfect beauty can be found in full clothes as well because it's all about intelligence, sense, grace and responsibility towards social causes.

Inner beauty speaks
Neelima, Model   

I don't believe in physical exposure. Women should carry themselves with the way they talk and handle things. It has to be the inner beauty of a woman that should speak for her. There is no denying that being fit will add more confidence. It is essential to take care of one's physical fitness. But that should be done for oneself and not for showcasing. The confidence you get  should come from your personality and behaviour. Exposing in  order to show confidence is unnecessary. The scrapped off  bikini round will add more value to beauty pageants as people will not perceive it just as a showcase of physical attributes but more of intellect, confidence and inner beauty.

Beauty is all about talent
Ravuri Swetha, Mrs India worldwide finalist

As Mrs India finalist, I have mixed feelings about this change. This is definitely a bold step taken by the Miss America organisation. In my case, the bikini round made me conscious of being fit and healthy for a lifetime. Being fit is being disciplined and being more confident about yourself. It is about self-love. That is all you need for any beauty pageant. Every contestant is judged by their talent and not by their skin color or figure. The bikini round should be there only to urge the contestants to be fit. It is good either way.

‘Bikini rounds boost confidence’
Vanishree Bhatt, Model

I was a part of the pageant league once. I took part in contests where swim suit round was solely meant for judging our fitness and body confidence levels. There are also pageants that didn't require us to wear a bikini as a part of the competition. My experiences have taught me that the pageant community is a platform to celebrate to women's confidence, overall beauty, strengths and convictions. Physical fitness and stamina are needed to sustain rigorous training and intense grooming sessions. It shows discipline and overall health of the contestants. Contestants' physique would anyway be an important judging criterion even if there are no swimsuit or bikini rounds. So I think eliminating it wouldn't make much difference as long as these contests project a healthy outlook towards women's fitness and body types.

Pageants are hoax
Pallavi joshi, Actress

Are there any intellectual things happening in beauty pageants? By scraping off the bikini round, what are they adding? A beauty pageant is is all about your external beauty and got nothing to do with your internal beauty. It is all about what kind of women you appear to be. I've never seen, barring a few, anyone coming out of these pageants and turning to be intellectuals.  Women have good bodies and if they want to wear a bikini, they will. I see nothing wrong in it. What needs to be scrapped are these beauty pageants where a woman has to be at least a 5ft 7" to be eligible for entry. It's all a hoax.

Tags: bikini, beauty pageant, swimsuit