02 July 2013

Beauty Pageants In Nigeria: After The Glitz And Glamour

When beauty pageant began in Nigeria, many people viewed it as a trivial event which focused mainly on the physical attributes of the contestants and talent. But today, it has become lucrative and also serves as an avenue for employment to the youths.
The first beauty pageant show was showcased in 1958 in Nigeria with the popular Miss Nigeria premiered by the Daily Times Newspapers. But today, the event has turned out to be one of the most popular and celebrated events in the country.

The Beginning:
Quite a number of beauty shows have sprung up in the country.  Many young ladies are aspiring to crowns like Most Beautiful Girl In Nigeria, Queen of Aso, Miss Ambassador for Peace, Finest Girl in Nigeria, Miss Big, Miss Tourism and a host of others.
The contest has helped in bringing out a number of young women to limelight which is the dream of any average young lady in the country; to be reckoned as a beauty queen. A lost is put in place in making sure that they are crowned winners. But the winners always have a big task as flying the flag of the organisation depends on how good she is.
Effect On Young Girls:
As pageantry begins to gain more popularity and momentum, many believe that such contests reinforce the idea that young women are valued primarily for their physical appearance and so it puts tremendous pressure on them to conform to conventional beauty standards by spending time and money on fashion, cosmetics and hair styling
This claim for pursuit of physical beauty among young ladies also encourages them to go on a diet which sometimes endangers their health.
As pageants turn an important comparative stage where the politics of value become visible, many are left with questions about its impact on Nigeria as a country.
It is a common trend for organizers of pageants to seek sponsorship but this has created a lot of controversies as many believe that the sponsors most times interfere in the judgment as to who eventually stands out as the queen.
Some argue that the sponsors of most pageants usually strike a deal with the organisers; bringing in their person as a contestant and making the organisers to ensure crowning that person even if she is not fit for the crown.
According to Uki Uwaifo, many of these organisers most times do not have a choice than to accept the deal. “It is difficult to get sponsorship especially among upcoming agencies with no goodwill.  So they will always be tempted to fall for any sponsor regardless of their demand.”
She said this ugly situation poses a great threat on the future of pageants in the country because as more pageants are coming up, the quest for sponsorship increases.
The interest of the organisers of these pageants emerges with different missions and objectives. Some are charity based while others are to empower young ladies.  But many Nigerians regard those as mere talk. They believe that the primary objective most of organizers is to enrich themselves.
Charles Udeme, a school teacher, says he sees pageants as every other business. “Just as every other business, the organizers of beauty pageants are out to make profit so, they only use these young girls. Even though the winners of the context eventually smile home with flashy cars and huge amount of money, the organizers still get the larger share. So, they are out for their personal interest,” he said.
Feedback from organizers:
According to the organizer, Queen of Aso, Mr Desmond Agboola, beauty pageants have played a vital role in the area of welfare.
 “Among others, we have been able to give back to the society.  We have visited some communities and the present queen has given out a lot of materials ranging from food stuff, toiletries, etc,” he said.
He said that beauty pageant has been able to affect a lot of Nigerian youths, saying, “Most of the young ladies who emerge as queens are either in school or out of school and the contest avails them the opportunity to exhibit their talents. With this opportunity, some of these queens are able to take care of their families. So it is basically about empowering them and giving back to the society,” he said.
Ejiro Okpihwo, organiser, Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, opined that beauty pageant is a platform to empower young ladies and awaken their consciousness   that they are the leaders of tomorrow and to live as role models.
In addition, the organizer, Miss Ambassador for Peace, Ambassador Kingsley Amafide, said beauty pageants have helped to create awareness   and reduce poverty. “Beauty pageant has helped many young girls to strive towards achieving their goals in life.  The current ambassador for peace, Miss Beauty Istifanus, has done a lot including giving scholarships to school children. And our aim is not just the height or beauty; it’s about your intellect, what you can offer to the society, and how you can help in promoting peace across the world.”
By Patience Ivie Ihejirika of Leadership