Opinion page - is the age of the beauty contest really still going strong?

© Getty Images

© Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images

Mr and Miss Hampshire were crowned last month, which leads Alice Cooke to ask if the age of the beauty contest is really still going strong?

This is no personal vendetta against the two winners – I am sure they worked hard and deserved their wins. But am I wrong in thinking this is a bit of an outdated concept? Is it really of interest to anyone who the best looking man and woman in Hampshire are?

When I think of beauty contests I think of Americans talking about world peace and showing off their ‘talents’. Why is there even a Miss and Mr Hampshire competition (which is a qualifier for Miss and Mr England, no less)? Why was it created? With what aim? I put my questions to the winners themselves, Larissa Hirst and Mark Young. Mark told me: “I think the Mr England and Miss England beauty pageants are even more relevant than they used to be as they are based around helping people within our community and supporting local charities, events and businesses. So much is about a person’s personality - how they approach all of the different challenges of the competition. It is not solely based on someone’s appearance.”

Ok…so if it’s really not just about looking pretty, does it really achieve anything?

Larissa is, unsurprisingly, in agreement: “Beauty competitions have moved on - suiting a more equal and modern world. With parts of the competition including a fitness bootcamp and an intelligence round - modern pageantry is about finding beauty that is more than skin deep.”

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions on this one…but a mere month before entries closed, Mark (21) was the only entrant in the Mr Hampshire contest, and he was publically appealing for others to compete with him. So maybe he might have to work a little harder to convince the men of Hampshire that this is a worthwhile thing to do?

Are we not a little further advanced than the beauty pageant heyday of the 1950’s? Models look good – they have to, it’s their job! But as for the rest of us…of course we all want to look our best, and let’s not pretend that we haven’t compared ourselves to a particularly aesthetically blessed friend, but to laud someone on the basis that they are the best looking man or woman in Hampshire. Really?

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Who puts themselves forward for something like this, or indeed nominates someone else? Is it supposed to be ironic? Or has our fair county completely taken leave of its senses?

And yet this is the local pinnacle – there are already heady titles in the offing such as Miss Southampton and Mr Fleet. I mean whatever next – best looking boy and girl in school? That would make your children and grandchildren feel really good about themselves wouldn’t it? Their self-esteem would be bolstered no end by knowing that their classmate is much more pleasing to the eye than they are. It definitely wouldn’t encourage one of the many soul-destroying eating or personality disorders that already affect so many young people today.

And if it is not acceptable in school, then why does it suddenly become ok in adolescence or adulthood? What sort of message is this sending to our children? Come on Hampshire, enlighten me…because I cannot see a plausible explanation as to why this is acceptable.

And before anyone cries sour grapes - I have absolutely no issues of my own when it comes to my appearance. But then maybe I’m no Miss Hampshire…if only I could aspire to the dizzy heights.

Or am I the one being old fashioned in thinking that this is not good enough? Is everyone actually happy to praise two of our own fair residents purely on the basis that they’re easy on the eye (in the opinion of the esteemed judges)? I would be delighted to hear from anyone who disagrees with me and thinks this is the best thing since really good looking sliced bread. Get in touch!

Have your say via our twitter page @hampshirelife



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