Beauty pageants are competitions held around the world that judge and award titles mostly based on the physical appearance of the contestants. However, there are many other attributes that are kept in mind while judging the contestants. While these contests around the world are fundamentally about putting idealized versions of femininity on a competitive stage and awarding a ‘royal’ title and crown to the winner, they are also about using femininity to represent other important issues of the world. The most important beauty pageants are Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss International, and Miss Earth. Moreover, many countries have their national beauty pageants as well. The Pakistani society, although well known in Eastern fashion with a plethora of world-famous designers, has not yet acclimatized itself to the idea of beauty pageants. The competitions are thought to be a display of vulgarity. However, positive change is coming as more Pakistanis are willing to participate in these competitions that allow women to not only display their outer beauty and femininity but also talk about pressing issues in the world and Pakistan.
Miss Pakistan World Areej Chaudhry, who has competed in multiple beauty pageants was crowned Miss Earth Pakistan in 2020. She was the first Pakistani to be chosen from Pakistani soil. Although there have been women who represented Pakistan previously in such competitions they were always overseas Pakistanis. The trend now is moving towards including Pakistan in such competitions, although there is no support from the government or any organization at home.
There have been local beauty pageants on a small scale that have produced some talent; however, they were usually based on judging the contestants based on their looks instead of a holistic view of them which includes their personality, intellect, and their ambitions to bring about a positive change in society. One local beauty pageant that was on a larger scale was Miss Veet Pakistan. Some of its winners and contestants were later seen in the Film and TV industry, however, none impressed the nation with their intellect or talents. All they could show off were their looks.
It is important for the Pakistani fashion industry to bring forward women who are well-groomed and have ambitions to represent Pakistan at beauty pageants in the global arena and promote a softer image of Pakistan. This can only be done so if the idea that such competitions are vulgar is eradicated from society altogether. It is not vulgar to be a strong and confident woman who carries herself with grace and class and is interested in pressing issues of the world rather than just looking beautiful outwardly. This can only be done when there is a general understanding of what a beauty pageant is all about and that can be done through creating awareness and promoting such events to take place in the country so that women from Pakistan are able to proudly represent their country in the four prestigious beauty pageants held every year in the world.