Saturday, 7 May 2016
Miss England: A Serious Business.
As you will know if you read my blog last weekend I was invited to the premiere of a documentary following the run up to the once popular Miss England comptetitions. I have always loved anything to do with modelling and fashion, although all the while knowing that this sort of industry was reserved for the thin and model like beauties of the world - and this documentary did nothing to change my mind on that.
Directed by Romail Gulzar, the film followed five aspiring beauty queens (already I feel that by calling them beauty queens we show that the competitions main influence is their beauty) as they compete to become Miss England.
I enjoyed the documentary, and yes I was impressed with the amount of money raised for charity, but overall I think that pageant director Angie Beasley is trying her hardest to mask the ultimately sexist and sizeist concept of the competition. Yes they raise money for charity and that is amazing, but yet all 52 girls that were shown in the documentary were slim. As I mentioned in the Q+A session, a google of "Plus Size Miss England" reveals only one woman - a finalist in 2008, who although being praised as a plus size model and size 16 was in fact 5 foot 10 which is definately not representative of the average woman.
During the Q+A I felt that Dr Jacqueline Sanchez-Taylor (Sociologist, University of Leicester) was fighting a losing battle as the reining Miss England and Angie Beasley had a completely unrelated answer to any of her comments. Something that I personally dont have experience with, is the idea that in Asian communities lighter skin is seen as desirable. Dr Sanchez-Taylor pointed out that Miss England was a fair skinned, thin woman. Her defence? That she was usually darkened for photo shoots. When I asked why a darker skinned model couldn't be used in the first place? I got no response.
I feel like in that Q+A session I could have happily debated all night but alas there wasnt time for that. So here is a little round up of what I wish I had said. For the record my question was that if the competition ISN'T just about beauty why are all the women in it thin.
Miss England said that they don't know anything about your looks until the judging and so this is completely coincidence. So I went on the the website to apply ... and at your application stage they want a full length photo and a headshot.
Another audience member said that young people dont do charity work and this competition encourgaes it. I have been volunteering for a number of different charities since I was 14 years old. I also know that girls guides and scouts also do charity work, so the comment that young people dont get involved in charity I find absurd.
Another man tried to liken the competition to Leicester winning the premier league at 5000-1 odds and saying if they could do that, then ANYONE could win this competition. While I appreciate the sentiment, Leicester were still in the premier league. They already had that advantage over a team such as say Dudley Town.
All in all I feel that the Q+A session highlighted the problem of thin privilage that both Miss England and Angie Beasley seemed to deny even existed. Romail also hinted that there were things left out of the film, such as allegations that certain beauty products had to be used by the finalists. He also hinted that he may follow up the film, and I would personally love to see this, especially if it would highlight the problems with the competition.
If anything good came out of the documentary for me it was that it made me more determined than ever to fight thin privelige. To not worry about how I look, and to realise that despite what the beauty industry wants me to think I am enough. I am a good person, I can wear what I want. I can be a size 16 and I can help charities, I can enjoy my life and not let some shallow minded view of the ideal bring me down.
Thankyou to Pukaar News for the invite to this screening, and hopefully when Part 2 comes I will be there again to watch!
P.s. thankyou to the man who stopped me after and told me I was Miss England to him! You made me smile. Thankyou also to my blogger friends who were there with me and cheering me on!!