The Miss Lebanon Pageant: Here We Go Again

In 2010, I wrote a blog post describing how I felt about beauty pageants. I could not understand why the broadcaster thought (and still thinks) that extravagant soirees where contestants are in swimsuits and couture brings out the best in Lebanese beauty and Lebanese tourism.

I could not understand why there is a need to design elaborate sets, have a troupe of dancers parade around the stage behind the women, and have whichever performer who has a new album to promote come and serenade the audience.

I could not understand why the newly crowned Miss Lebanon is rewarded with a new apartment, a new car, a whole wardrobe, trips, and jewelry. What for? What does Miss Lebanon do that she needs this much compensation for her efforts?

I could not understand in 2010- and I sure still do not understand now in 2016.

Now say what you will about having the women scored on how they look in swimsuits and evening gowns, but that’s a foundation of such contests, here and all over the world. I wholeheartedly believe that in this day and age, we shouldn’t be judging women on their looks under any circumstance, that beauty pageants are an outdated concept- and yet, they don’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Want evidence? They were playing Jennifer Lopez’s recent song on female empowerment Ain’t Your Mama during the swimsuit segment.

Miss Lebanon 2016: Sandy Tabet

Which is why I was bothered the most by the Q&A portion of the evening. This was the contestants’ chances to allow their intellect to shine, to allow their personality to set them apart from the rest (and they all did look very similar this year). After all, didn’t each of them state her university and major earlier on the evening? You had to assume then that they had the sufficient skills to successfully get through that portion.

It was an utter failure.

Look, it’s not entirely the girls’ fault for delivering nonsensical answers. The questions in their own right were totally ridiculous- almost begging for such responses.

Why did one of the judges think that a Lebanese beauty pageant contestant would care for the outcome of the US presidential election (when we notably don’t have one of our own). Was he trying to inquire if she knew about world affairs? Because the outcome was a clear fat NO. You want to vote for Hilary? Sure, go right ahead. Just don’t do so because she’s a woman and can “stand on her two feet”

Another judge, a woman, asked about the ever-so-popular work life balance: how would this beauty queen manage between her work and family responsibilities? I had no idea that this question still needs to be asked when Lebanese women do both. After all, weren’t all these contestants college students? Mind you, this question would never be posed to a man.

The only question that seemed to make sense given the whole scope of the event was listing the distinctive qualities of Lebanon’s touristic sector, but all the candidate could do was urge the media to focus on those qualities, without naming, at any point, any of them! She ended up receiving a score of 9.75- a 9.8 by the person who asked her the question!

But perhaps, my favorite question came at the hands of one of our premier Lebanese fashion designers, who asked the now Miss Lebanon, if she would rather have a long life but be ugly or a short life while being Miss Universe. Is that even a question?!

What followed was an incoherent blabber of how there are no ugly people anymore because everyone is getting plastic surgery anyway- and then she went on to quote some song lyric (I think). To add insult to injury, her answer was met with a resounding “Bravo!” I’m sorry, but you cannot blame stage fright for that level of idiocy. You can’t claim she was “just being honest,” either.

This is a time when we should be teaching our girls the value of an education and the importance of being cultured. We should be developing their curiosity and urging them to read, to inquire, to question, to never take anything at face value. We should teach them to take care of themselves: mind, body, and soul- and that beauty and longevity are not mutually exclusive. That they can stand up to their male counterparts no matter what the situation is.

Miss Lebanon does everything but that.

In fact, I am baffled at how any of the contestants represents the ideals I’ve stated above, or can serve as a good role model for other Lebanese women.

And you see, despite the fact that I’m writing about how much the Q&A bothered me, people felt the need to take to social media to bash Sandy, claiming she isn’t as beautiful as the other contestants and her win was undeserved. The majority gave little to almost no attention to how she presented herself- falling into the trap of beauty pageants of looks supersede brains.

But if there’s a silver lining in all of this, it’s that Miss Lebanon will fade into obscurity until next year when she has to hand over her crown to her successor-and we have to go through this farce once again.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Ruth says:

    Who ever wrote the article sound like a 55 year old silly feminist douche bag who hates beauty and lives in a cave since the 1990’s…grow up bitch, and smell the coffee…

    1. TK says:

      I suggest you re-read the post, preferably with a cup of coffee in hand, as it doesn’t seem you’ve had yours yet.

      PS: I am a feminist. So what?!

    2. IH says:

      Wow, replying to an article with personal insutls and attacking t.he author instead of actually arguing any of their points. How original and insightful.

      1. TK says:

        Thank you for commenting. The attack was uncalled for in my opinion (and there’s nothing wrong with being a feminist anyway)- but that’s what you get when you put things online.

  2. Farah says:

    Thank you for this article. I hope one day this comedy if it does not end it will improve at least, its too hilarious anyway it was a good laugh.
    & Im a feminist too but this pageant is just too ridiculous and its the least to say.

    1. TK says:

      Thank you for reading. I agree in that it was entertaining. I followed the whole thing on Twitter and the comments that people were providing (until they started calling the poor girl ugly) were on point.

      Unfortunately though beauty queens are not going to go away. We can only hope they make the personality component important and improve the q&a section.

  3. Safaa Zbib says:

    Canada, 4:30 am, insomic, FB as usual…and boom: everyone in Lebanon is making fun of some “not up to their beauty standards” new miss Lebanon….I was about to puke when I came across this article. One thing I can relate to is, in the 99’swhen the ultimate entertainment on TV was to watch miss Lebanon, I used to hide my head and pretend a washroom break to avoid hearing the stupid super ultra unbelievably complicated questions, let alone the answers of the girls. The problem in Ms. Tabet is not her probably “not up to the Lebanese community standards” beauty, walk in any street in Lebanon and you will find a bunch of girls that beat her beauty. The problem is that we still have not included the brain as past on beauty when we perceive it in a woman. The problem is pure objectification and takhalluf. The problem is that apparently no one gets why Malala Yusuf got a novel prize…. the problem is that we still call it “Miss Lebanon” rather than “Ms”…..
    I loved and enjoyed the article and I also laughed out loud about the “feminist” comment! Continue doing your daily shisha and hormone shots baby! This country has no future because of people like you.

    1. TK says:

      I’m happy to know you enjoyed the article! Thank you for reading and commenting!

      I haven’t watched Miss Lebanon in many years- but I was sick and bored and Twitter was buzzing about it so I said why not, let’s give it a go. Maybe it has improved. And of course, it didn’t. I was cringing throughout the whole show as I could not imagine any of these girls representing me or all the women I know! I mean, if the purpose of Miss Lebanon is to be an ambassador of the country, shouldn’t she at least know how to present it, how to speak about it?! By the looks of it, neither one of them can! You’re absolutely right by calling it objectification and takhalluf!

      And yes, I laughed too. Why would they think I would feel insulted by being called a feminist?! 😀

  4. AhmadF says:

    After reading everyone’s opinion, and reading the reactions: no one expects Miss Lebanon to turn to Jeopardy, nor we are expecting the contestants to become the next Ken Jennigs; all we want is a logical question and a coherent answer that reflects the knowledge and personality of the contestant. And a more balanced scoring methodology. Moreover, no one deserves the very harsh attack that’s happening, but again Arabs are always sore losers.

    1. TK says:

      Very well said! Although I should’ve taped your reaction to some of the answers 😀

  5. soumaya hamaty says:

    I liked your article a lot, and I feel so sad to see that all these contestant who probably did attend the best universities in country to have such a nonsense answers without any sense of logic in their answers without any glimpse of being smart, I admit that the questions also wasn’t the kind of questions that they should been asked but I felt so sad to have such people to represent Lebanon internationally, what she will do when she will be asked much more complicated questions

  6. kettleboing says:

    beauty pageants reflect the bad and embarrassing side of Lebanese women and the society they live in. Not classy.
    Having said that, Lebanese women can charm you into another world. Thats where their beauty really lies.

    1. TK says:

      Thanks for reading!

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