Is Plastic Surgery Really Fair For Beauty Pageant Contestants?
A baseball player is accused of artificially enhancing his strength and speed with steroids and is banned from the sport. A beauty pageant contestant artificially enhances her looks with plastic surgery and is crowned Miss Universe. Despite the fact that undergoing cosmetic surgery to improve your chances of winning a beauty pageant seems like a pretty obvious case of cheating, plastic surgery is permitted in pageants like Miss Universe, and contestants aren’t required to disclose whether or not they have gone under the knife. In other words, not only are we offering crowns and titles, however arbitrary they may be, to women based primarily on their looks, but we are rewarding them for enlisting the help of a plastic surgeon to achieve the perfect face, legs and boobs. It’s okay though because, as a spokesperson for Miss Universe Canada, Charlene Smith, puts it, everyone is allowed to go under the knife, so all the contestants are on a level playing field. Well, as long as it’s fair.
According to Smith, about 15% of the 62 women who competed in Miss Universe Canada on May 19 of this year had some form of plastic surgery, a rate much lower than the estimated 80% in other beauty pageants. The difference is that Canada is a more conservative country, where undergoing cosmetic surgery may be “frowned upon” by contestants’ family and friends. (Keep in mind that in several U.S. states, pageant winners are rewarded with free unlimited plastic surgery). The Miss Universe Organization, which operates pageants like Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Universe Canada, says it discourages contestants from undergoing plastic surgery, but there are no restrictions, and even if there were, the organization claims they would be impossible to enforce.
Winner of Miss USA 1995 Shanna Moakler says that she has encouraged past titleholders to get nose jobs and breast implants to improve their chances of winning; but there’s no pressure, she says, comparing plastic surgery to using makeup. “As much as these contests are about beauty, it’s not always the most beautiful that wins,” claims Natalie Glebova, the 2005 Miss Universe titleholder. However, it’s not coincidence that Venezuela, one of the world’s hottest plastic surgery markets, has brought home more beauty pageant titles than any other country, including six Miss Universe titles, six Miss Internationals, and six Miss Worlds.
Past winners of the Miss Universe pageant:
Brazil too, is known for its penchant for cosmetic surgery, and Brazilian Juliana Borges admitted to undergoing 19 cosmetic surgery procedures to prepare for Miss Universe 2001. Among other surgeries, she received liposuction on her lower back and waistline and had her cheekbones raised, her breasts enlarged, her ears pinned back, and her jawbone sharpened. (By the way, she didn’t even make it in the top ten). As plastic surgery becomes more and more popular in the United States and other countries, it’s fair to assume we’ll see the most outrageous results in beauty pageants. Says Alex Kuczynski, author and opponent of cosmetic surgery, “the audience for beauty pageants cares about looking at these incredible specimens, which is really what they are.” Apparently, beauty pageant judges “aren’t thinking deeply or critically about whether or not it’s fair that a woman has fake breasts.”