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Love Your Body: Stage a 'Real Women' Beauty Pageant
Traditional beauty pageants value women solely by how well they fit into conventional beauty standards. The judges, audience and other contestants scrutinize women's bodies, hair and faces in a process that is a statement of submission, of making the body an object of someone else's pleasure and preferences. Not only do pageants uphold certain beauty standards that are dangerous and offensive, they pit women against each other as enemies competing to achieve impossible perfection and win male approval.
Subvert this institution by staging a mock beauty pageant! Celebrate the beauty of women's bodies by presenting true versions of the ways women look, and cheer for their diversity.
This can be a planned performance with deliberately chosen participants or an impromptu gathering with audience participation. It can be a fashion show for comfortable clothes that flatter different bodies or a wear-what-you-want celebration of different styles and bodily expressions.
Come up with new ways to showcase women's talents, by sponsoring trivia contests, sporty games like darts, or tire-changing competitions. Women can be asked to display their unique talents, whether they perform in all-girl bands or excel at public speaking. Or, take a more collaborative approach and hold three-legged races and other teamwork games.
Hold the event in a public space such as a campus common area, city park, or even onstage at the mall (this might even be a good way to publicly present mall-project certificates to store owners).
Invite the media and people involved in the local fashion and beauty industries, such as store owners, makeup salespeople, representatives from ad firms, and newspaper reporters. Post fliers in visible areas to encourage many people to attend or participate in the event. Send a press release inviting local media.
Offer freebies to encourage people to come. Give prizes to participants. Offer free food and/or door prizes for audience members. Have a raffle.
Woman-friendly local merchants can be involved in the event as sponsors. They can be asked to donate prizes for the participants and audience members, lend clothing to be worn in the performance, or donate funds for sound equipment.
Include in the performance a statement about the political purpose of the event. Invite dialogue about the ways retailers and advertisers in your area target women and praise participants for their willingness to share their beauty even though it may be outside the media and society expectations.
©2000 - 2011 National Organization for Women (NOW) Foundation's Love Your Body Campaign