Sex, Lies and Miss U.S.A.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 17:45

“It feels really natural; I’ve worked so hard to be here, and this has been my lifelong dream and it’s finally here…” So spoke Miss North Carolina USA, Kristen Dalton, at the close of the Miss USA 2009 contest.

Compared with the usual gushing small-talk about how parents and boyfriends and siblings and friends would have encouraged someone to participate in a so-called Beauty Contest, which was what most people were expecting, it was quite an eye-opener.

However, I have news for this young lady – despite her boastings, she has probably won the contest by default…. a walk-over, as it almost were. For even those who do not follow the news from what are alternately called the beauty circuits or the cattle shows must have heard of Carrie Prejean, Miss Carolina.

But just in case the finer points of the story have escaped you, here they are.

Controversy about whether marriage ought to remain between “man and wife” or become a “union between two people” is creating tidal waves across the United States.

And that is exactly why the oh-so-originally named Perez Hilton (whose real name is Mario Lavandiera) tried to hitch a ride on the back of a girl of whose religious convictions he was aware.

He asked her what she feels about same-sex unions, and she indicated that whereas it was possible for people to seek such unions she was for marriages between opposite sexes.

What he said, when he explained his “nil points” decision was [edited] ‘…I want someone to be politically savvy…and that means saying things that will make everyone feel welcome… for example, you know she’s a Christian, but … I don’t want her talking about Jesus-Jesus-Jesus because that’s offensive to all of the Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, Atheist Americans… it’s about balance…. unfortunately she was not the perfect Miss USA.”

Oh yes, he has a point there – several, in fact. Miss America is all about beauty as it is perceived by the beholder. Do you gait “ugly” people, or even “plain” ones, competing for the title? Or is it mostly a bevy of cheerleader-type girls with legs that go on forever, who are “allowed” into the final heats… and I use the term judiciously.

This, then, “proves” albeit tentatively, that the contest is biased against unattractive people.

And what about people with visible handicaps? Spare me the tokenism of Heather Whitestone, who became the first Miss America with a disability, in 1994, the first – and last – in the pageant’s history. Incidentally, Heather has since had cochlear implant surgery at Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore – but she still works hard for people with hearing impairments.

However, we have yet to see someone who uses a wheelchair, or even one crutch, as an embodiment of “beauty” on the Miss U.S.A. Pageant. Therefore, the contest is biased against people with handicaps, too. And obese ones, by the way. And short ones too.

Miley Cyrus – who was recently admitted that “artistic” photos may sometimes be a mistake for a teenager who hopes to keep her young fan-base rather than become Playboy girl of the Month – backed Hilton on Twitter.

“Ya that’s lame!” was the unfortunate terminology that she used to describe Ms Prejean’s attitude. “God’s greatest commandment is to love. And judging is not loving. That’s why Christians have such a bad rep.” And, ironically, she does not even realised that she had just done some judging herself. One thing I’ll say for this young lady – she hedges her bets because she knows which side of her bread is buttered, to mix a metaphor.

When push comes to shove, Ms Prejean was not judging others – she was only stating her opinion. In fact, she explicitly indicated that choices are available should anyone want to make use of them.

By disclosing her opinion, Ms Prejean was true to her beliefs. Some have called her “stupid” for doing that, saying she ought to have been enigmatic, or even lied outright. This would have gained her the respect of Perez Hilton – and list her that of herself, which is the only thing that matters in the end.

But since she did not see eye-to-eye with him, Mr Perez used gutter language to describe her, and defaced her photographs on his website with phallic symbols.

Whatever happened to the right of free speech in the land of the free?

The way it looks to me is that if she had fallen on the side of genderless marriages, she would have been exercising her right to free speech – and she would have netted the Big Prize, to boot. But since she didn’t, she wasn’t. The mind boggles.

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