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Are Male Pageants Different from Women’s?

By Attireclub @attireclub

The History of the Pageant

The winner and the next two contestants ar Mr. World 2010

The winner and the next two contestants ar Mr. World 2010

Male pageants are something that is not that common in our modern global culture, but they do exist and represent a very interesting slice of life. These events are the equivalent of women’s beauty shows and are an increasing business with more and more such endeavors taking place around the world. Almost every country in the world these days has a “Mister Something”, but few people know who these men are and what their role is.

To look at this issue from afar, we should first define what a pageant is and how male pageants differ from female pageants.

A pageant is simply defined as a beauty contest. Historically speaking, a the first modern beauty contest took place during the Eglinton Tournament of 1859, which was held by by Archibald Montgomerie, 13th Earl of Eglinton and which was a re-enactment of a medieval joust that was held in Scotland. The winner was Georgiana Seymour, Duchess of Somerset, who was proclaimed as the “Queen of Beauty”.

Mister International Slovenia 2014 - Mitja Nadižar

Mister International Slovenia 2014 – Mitja Nadižar

In America, the first pageant took place earlier, in 1854 and was organized by Phineas Taylor Barnum, who was a businessman who worked with entertainment ventures. His initiative was shut down due to public protest. However, not very long after, in the 1920s, when the world was already very different, the Miss America pageant was established. During the 1920s, other countries throughout the world, such as Great Britain or Germany started organizing these beauty contests.

These contests were inspired by medieval traditions such as May Day, which involved choosing a woman to represent the ideals of a community. Today, these contests do not revolve only around beauty, they also focus on intelligence, personality and talent, but nevertheless, the contestant’s physical appearance is essential in being able to aspire to a “miss” title. They are called a beauty contest for a reason. Many groups are criticizing these contests for placing emphasis on objectifying women and treating them like objects which serve a single purpose, and that is to be looked at.

Men Vs. Women

But what about male pageants?

Nicklas Pedersen - Mr World 2014

Nicklas Pedersen – Mr World 2014

Beauty contests for men have existed for quite a while now, but they were usually bodybuilding contests, which reinforced gender roles and stereotypes about men and women. Recently, however, more and more beauty contests for men have appeared, but, even though they are getting a lot of exposure, they are still going beyond the radar and are not attracting as much attention as female pageants.

Maybe because these contests are so new, you rarely hear a boy saying that when he grows up, he wants to be Mister Something, but for girls that is a quite common dream.

While the idea of men’s pageants is a good one, the main issue with it is the implementation. There’s something about these contests and men that does not work together well. Is it the gender roles our society is so used to that seeing men competing to decide who is better looking seems stupid, is it that most of the contestants look exactly the same or is it because it objectifies men and turns them into decoration objects?

These things might be true to a certain extent, yes, but in the end, this is not what the issue with beauty contests is.

The thing that makes these events weird is the fact that they present both in the case of men and women as narrow stereotypes. Especially in the case of men, it all comes down to simulating a male ideal which would never impress a person with an age over eight. Beauty pageants make men just as much as women infantile and on the edge of ridiculousness.

Emmanuel Ikubese Mr Nigeria 2014

Emmanuel Ikubese – Mr Nigeria 2014

Most men who participate in pageants might be great-looking, smart, skillful and have a very wide range of qualities, but they are presented like cartoon characters. According to these contests, men are like Johnny Bravo. Johnny Bravo is a fun and entertaining cartoon character, that’s true, but he is funny only because he is exaggerated and only has a few over the top traits, which make him funny.

There is one thing to have a beauty contest, where participants show off how well they can flex their muscles (such as bodybuilding contests) or how well they can wear a suit and style their traits, but to create a contest where participants are asked questions during a so-called intelligence challenge to which answerers give first-grade answers is bizarre to say the least.

José Pablo Minor Mexico 2014

There is nothing wrong with having a beauty contest or a Mister Something pageant; these events can actually be a lot of fun! The cultural issue is that these competitions are treated like a sporting event. It is alright to have fun with such events, to walk the runway and showcase your talents and give witty answers, but it becomes weird when the culture treats these things like they are a real competition. It’s like judging art or creativity.

Mr Netherlands candidate Mr World

Mr. Netherlands candidate for Mr. World

What we need to make sure as a society is that we need to learn that our looks alone should not be what takes us forward: our appearance should be a representation of who we are and what we do.

All in all, male beauty contests are not so different than women’s, they simply feel different because we expect different things from men than we do from women, but that has nothing to do with beauty contests.

Beauty contests are fun activities which anyone can find fun and entertaining, but for them to be a valuable thing, they need to be treated as what they truly are.

P.S. What do you think of male pageants? What about pageants in general? Share your thoughts in the comments space below! For more articles on style, fashion tips and cultural insights, you can subscribe to Attire Club via e-mail or follow us on Facebook or Twitter!

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