ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Beauty Queen hopefuls:
Can they end poverty in Alberta?
Gazette file photo
“IT’S NOT A BEAUTY PAGEANT! IT’S A SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM!” Are
you the next Miss Congeniality?
The road to becoming Canada’s Beauty Queen is a long
one — the weekend begins with registration, followed by a long line
of photo opportunities, unending autograph signings, luncheons, free dinners,
swanky cocktail parties and, finally, the actual pageant leading into the
But there are also the interviews, during which contestants have to answer
questions about themselves and their platforms — which usually involves
volunteer work for everything from Tourette’s Syndrome and literacy awareness,
to stopping bullies and ending poverty in Alberta.
“We’re not just looking for beauty, [we’re looking for]
intelligence, integrity, poise — all those things are very, very important,” says
London city councillor Harold Usher, who moonlights as the pageant’s
According to Usher, contestants are asked questions about their life, their
platform, other volunteer work and their plans for the future, but he stressed
that no contestants are asked questions relating to politics or religion. “We
do it with integrity, we do it with fairness — and no trick questions,” he
“There’s nothing fluffy about this pageant,” said Julie
Young-Marcellin, national director of Canada Pageants, the organization running
However, something happens between the aerobic wear competition — this
involves the contestants wearing black skin-tight singlets because there is
no longer a swimsuit competition — and the moment it’s clear the
contestants make too many wardrobe changes to count. It becomes obvious, to
even the most ignorant skirt chaser with a brain situated below his waist,
that there is a sense of frivolousness and the unmistakable fake atmosphere
in the world of pageantry.
“Some people are pageant people and some people are not; I am not,” admits
an unnamed contestant, adding she has noticed herself becoming more superficial
since becoming a beauty queen.
Indeed, it is pageantry’s blatant superficiality that brought on its
decline in Canada. Still, many participants and spectators attending the event
felt it may be making a comeback in the country.
A father of one of the contestants explained that other competitions — such
as his daughter’s baton team — are more competitive, but there
is a sense of camaraderie that makes the event appealing.
The allure of the pageant is enough to bring contestants from all walks of
life, including Western. Melissa Marks, the new Ms. National Canada, was one
of many Western students at the pageant.
“A lot of our competitors are from Western, especially from [Saugeen-Maitland
Hall],” Marcellin-Young noted “A lot of them are on the same floor,
so they’ve been talking about their wardrobe,” she says, admitting
she, too, attended Western.
Despite the popularity, the superficiality of pageantry still makes one wonder
whether it will have a clear future in Canada.