Social media is flummoxed at the eerie similarity in appearance of this year’s Miss India pageant contestants. A photo of this year’s finalists is doing rounds on Twitter, and people are asking, are these women clones? Or do the jury members have tunnel vision? How else does one justify the selection of 30 women with same skin tone, same hair texture, and even identical big artificial smiles? Hell, there isn’t diversity even the length of their hair. In a country which boasts about diversity in every possible aspect, how is it possible that all 30 women representing different nooks and corners of this country all tick the same boxes?

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • This year’s Miss India contestants all look the same.
  • They have similar hair texture and length, skin colour and even smiles.
  • These contestants do no justice to the diverse beauty of Indian women.
  • In fact they uphold the out-dated notions of beauty we have been battling for centuries.

In a country which boasts about diversity in every possible aspect, how is it possible that all 30 women representing different nooks and corners of this country all tick the same boxes?

Although, we know the similarities in the physical appearance of pageant contestants is not a new thing.  If you grew up binging on cable TV in the nineties, where pageants made for mindless Saturday night viewing, like me, it wouldn’t have escaped your attention how pageant contestants often come across as cast from the same mould. Even their walk, talk and vital stats are distinctly identical. So, do these pageants actually select a woman who will represent what beauty is among Indian women? Hardly!

The thing is pageants like Miss India don’t uphold the beauty of Indian women, but the idea of beauty and out-dated standards which are still used to judge women. Barely a handful of women, of the 49 crores or something, who live in this country, can flaunt a slim and toned waistline. Most women’s complexion falls on the duskier side of the spectrum. Even when it comes to hair, it is not as if all women have luscious straight and shiny hair. Some of us are blessed with wavy or curly hair, which breaks comb on a monthly basis.

How are we to end the bias against dark complexion, curly hair, bigger waistline, when they reduce women’s beauty to skin deep standards, and if pageants continue to devalue them?

Where is our representation in these pageants? Are dusky or plus size women not Indians or beautiful? Do the finest among us only talk about world peace and diplomacy? Is this a beauty pageant or an audition for some Bollywood film? Well, if you look at how things worked out for the past pageant winners, then it does seem so. For centuries Indian women have been struggling against these very stereotypical parameters of beauty. How are we to end the bias against dark complexion, curly hair, bigger waistline, when they reduce women’s beauty to skin deep standards and if pageants continue to devalue them?

These aren’t just Miss India contestants. One woman among these will win the title and go on to represent India on the International platform. What will her appearance scream to the world? That we do not think heavy-set, short-heighted, curly haired or dark women are beautiful? Even, if some contestants among these are actually dark, why then the lightening of their skin tone? Especially, when we know that our brown skin forms a big part of our identity, on a global level.

Indian women are proud of who we are. We wear very curve, every curl and every pimple and stretch mark with pride. Beauty pageants can’t tell us otherwise, and thus they need to change their beauty standards, as they face rejection from millions of Indian women who feel left out.

Feature Image Credit : Twitter

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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