Judges in Sao Paulo, Brazil will pick the winner of the 2011 Miss Universe Pageant Monday night, and there's a good chance that the winner will be Western-looking. Even if that contestant is from Asia, Africa or Latin America.
Going through the contestants from Asian countries especially, there is an over-abundance of Western features. While the United States is still a melting pot of different cultures, it is sad to see that almost every one of the women in the competition look like they were pulled from the University of Texas.
Miss Malaysia, for example, is half-Irish Deborah Henry, who is certainly beautiful, but not the most typically Malaysian-looking woman. While I'm sure she deserved to win her country's spot in the pageant, she is just one example of how pageant judges around the world lean westward. Mauritania's Laetitia Darche is half-Belgian and has lived almost all of her life between Spain and Belgium.
The pageant follows a growing trend in Asia, where women are increasingly going under the knife to make themselves look more white. In South Korea, where 15-30 percent of women get plastic surgery, the most popular cosmetic procedures are double eyelid surgery and augmentation rhinoplasty, both of which reduce a woman's Asianness in exchange for Western features.
Isn't the whole point of the Miss Universe spectacle supposed to be the celebration of diversity? The pageant has the opportunity to teach people, especially the young girls around the world, that beauty comes in all shapes and colors. Instead, when young women tune in, they will primarily see one standard of beauty.
Typically, white-skinned counties are moving in the opposite direction, however. For example, New Zealand's Priyani Puketapu is Maori.
Miss Universe is supposed be about more than just looks, and hopefully, these women will be judged on their other qualities, such as intelligence, poise, manners and culture, themselves out-of-date markers of a woman's worth, but certainly more important than beauty alone.