Men-straight or gay- have no opinions on women's bodies

Radio personality Phat Joe better keep his views about women's bodies to himself as he does not qualify to opine on the matter. /Thuli Dlamini
Radio personality Phat Joe better keep his views about women's bodies to himself as he does not qualify to opine on the matter. /Thuli Dlamini

In the heat of the many documentaries BBC did about Brazil during the 2014 Fifa World Cup, I came across one called Secrets of America - Extreme Beauty Queens.

In the documentary, young women, mostly from impoverished backgrounds, enter pageants as a means of seeking a better life for their families.

In a skhothane twist, they are expected to look a very specific type of beauty, a beauty decided by one Osmel Sousa, a Cuba-born Venezuelan pageant director .

In explaining the logic behind his strict rules for what nips and tucks these young women need to get, the tyrannical Sousa shares that he was always fascinated by the fashion sketches he often drew as a child.

Having suffered with attention deficit disorder, concentrating on school work proved to be a difficulty but when it came to sketching, he excelled.

The problem was that he often drew skinny beautiful women who helped him cope with the ugliness that surrounded him.

Even in a reality show built around the Brazilian pageant scene, Sousa terrorises women for physical attributes as if they were a crime.

Like a Randall Abrahams of sorts, he criticises a girl for fainting after advising her to get up like a beauty pageant queen considering that she already fell like one.

People like Sousa have existed for decades, even sitting behind TV screens preening over the most minute things like the panel themselves. Pondering why Basetsana Kumalo would wear a hideous dress as a judge when she is a recent winner.

It would be a lie to pretend the beautiful women in pageants solving ugly problems are celebrated for inner beauty. Even Rolene Strauss's first attempt at the crown resulted in a linguistic blunder that would still have won her the crown if she managed a few sentences on a year where it was her race's turn to win.

It comes as no surprise that Phat Joe took advantage of Anele Mdoda's fourth year judging a major pageant. Continuing a competition that screens its women as if it were under the gaze of Sousa himself we would not have a space for Phat Joe to think his backward opinion still has a place in society. It is not intellectual nor is it informative.

There lies a deep and disturbing need in society to celebrate the beauty of women in pageants.

No one claps their hands wildly for pageant winners or cries when they don't make it through to the next round because of the many feats these women have succeeded in. It is the crowning of a Cinderella next door and any black swan near her is chastised.

Whether Phat Joe secretly wishes he would transition is as much a mystery as that of Sousa who often drooled over sketches of his female fantasies.

Pageants still need an intrinsic overhaul that takes away the power of the male gaze, regardless whether it is heterosexual or homosexual.

Why are these women still wearing a bikini if they are here to solve societal issues under the umbrella of corporations who sponsor the annual festivities?

If we continue to leave pageants untransformed we run the risk of creating spaces for the likes of Phat Joe to feel entitled to opinions over women's bodies.

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