Sundays, Lately

Last Sunday night, I could barely sleep, tossing and turning, in embarrassment over the Miss Universe Pageant. For the rest of the week, I wracked my brain over the final round questions. This Sunday night, was the complete opposite. I slept like a baby after experiencing the first wholesome Super Bowl Half-Time performance and commercial advertising, I’ve seen in a long time. But, I woke up as one of very few who feel this way, hearing and reading so much criticism about it all. This caused my wheels to turn more, and ultimately leaving me with more questions than ever about what’s going on in our universe, starting with Miss Universe.

As mentioned, I was shocked and appalled by the questions segment of the Miss Universe Pageant. Barely anyone answered the questions properly, and the one who answered the best, ended up as the last runner up. But I was equally shocked and appalled after finding out that most people never even expected the delegates to speak or have good answers, but only to look physically beautiful. My stomach turned, as the questions flowed; if it’s just a beauty pageant, then why ask them “difficult” questions that they clearly can’t answer? Is there any knowledge necessary as part of the criteria? Could they highlight the talent portion of the show, to watch them actually be good at something, other than looking beautiful? If one represents the universe, should they know how to communicate in the universal language- English? What exactly is a Miss Universe, and what is her purpose? What does this all really say about the representation of women, and each country?

I had to look into the Pageant, and here’s what I found. Miss Teen USA, K. Lee Graham, is top of her class, involved in charity work, finds time for extracurricular activities and used the pageant to promote her “Live Beautifully” campaign. #YouGoGirl. (But that pageant isn’t  nationally televised). Miss Universe, Paulina Vega, was born of a prominent family in Colombia, and is studying for her college degree in business administration. She said she speaks English, but after watching her answer questions, I think #RosettaStone could help. Miss USA, Nia Sanchez, has traveled the world as a Nanny and is very beautiful indeed. I would think that someone well traveled could answer better about their own country’s contributions to the world, but apparently not. If only she glanced over the US information on wikipedia, bare minimum, she could have formulated better answers. At least they each “seemed” nice, and are advocating for causes. According to the website, “These women are savvy, goal-oriented and aware. The delegates who become part of the Miss Universe Organization display those characteristics in their everyday lives, both as individuals, who compete with hope of advancing their careers, personal and humanitarian goals, and as women who seek to improve the lives of others.” I like how that sounds, but what exactly are they aware of? Can the style they displayed make up for the lack of substance projected? Are the contestants true and worthy representatives of their country and of the universal woman? And who’s running this show?- Ironically, a man with an intelligent and powerful daughter, who represents more of a role model than the Pageant delegates. And if it couldn’t get any more superficial, the three “experts” on the MUO team, are a fitness coach, nutritionist, and a dentist. I was surprised plastic surgeon didn’t make the cut.

On the bright side, charities are indeed involved. There is The Cordaid Fund which was promoted throughout the pageant at http://www.missuniverse.com/info/miss_universe_cordaid_fund. Additionally, The Miss Universe Organization has charitable alliances with several other organizations which you can check out  at www.missuniverse.com/charities/index, and Miss USA as well,  at www.missuniverse.com/missusa/charities/index. My favorite is their trade initiative at www.samesky.comempowering women & changing lives through a beautiful jewelry and accessories collection.

As far as the Super Bowl Half-Time Show and TV commercials are concerned, I have a few points to make, before I conclude:

1. While Katy Perry’s costume choices may have not been the best, it was nice to see her covered up. Finally, no one looked like a stripper, and it seemed appropriate for all age levels. I especially loved the dancing sharks.

2. The Nationwide commercial about accidental childhood deaths, freaked me out. But in reality- people needed to see that message. I applaud the company for sponsoring a message of safety. Way to raise awareness, educate, and take responsibility!! I hope they make more PSA’s, and help diminish the number of accidents in the future.

3. The Always brand found a strategic way to sell a personal product and appeal to strength of women, while blowing the whistle on a negative stereotype. But of course, that got twisted in several ways. Thing is, negative stereotypes are so deep ingrained in our generation, and it’s difficult to be self-aware when we feel guilty and defensive. For all the naysayers, I then say, #LikeAGirl, means being brave & fearless. In society, we let boys be boys to extremes, but guard girls from similar situations. It was nice that as children, they had no adulterated concept of gender differences. All the girls could think of, was the strongest version of themselves, while the boys thought of the weakest. And even if males are physically stronger than girls, is there a better way we can express weakness, as opposed to making it gender specific? Nice job. I totally get what the brand is about, and glad I didn’t have to see some embarrassing commercial about maxi pads. If anyone was embarrassed, it might have been the boys. But, I still have faith that there are guys out there who appreciated the commercial. In the end, gender equality is not about being physically equal, its about respecting our differences. This reminds me of a great quote:

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I still have questions, and hopefully over time I’ll find answers. For now, I hope the rest of us are keeping up with ourselves, trying to remain aware, educated, and responsible. The world won’t change until we do.