Story by Hav Bright
Growing up as a little child in the late 90s, I remember how I stayed glued to the television overnight to watch Miss World. I barely understood what they were doing but I think all I was doing was admiring the stunning beauty and eloquence of the women on the screen.
Then I turned a teenager and came by contests such as Miss Ghana, Miss Malika, Ghana’s Most Beautiful and so on.
Now, pageantry has taken many forms. Today, I hear of contests such as Miss KKB, Miss Earth, Miss Tourism, Miss Agriculture, Miss Tertiary and now the famous one at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Mr and Miss Akwaaba.
As a growing fast-learning adult, I have come to understand the business part of these pageantries. I know how ‘smart’ business men and women are taking advantage of events such as these to make thousands – if not millions – of Ghana cedis. I have also come to understand how corporate organisations are riding on the shoulders of these events to inform the public about their existence. To some, it’s a self-redemtion opportunity.
But what about those who contest for these crowns? Time and again I have tried to find out vividly the real motive and drive of these contestants. What really do they seek to gain? Is it the name, fame or the other tangibles and intangible rewards that come with it?
Admittedly, some just go in for the goodies. Something Miss USA 2015, Olivia Jordan, during the final stage admittedly said, “Finally, and maybe the most relevant to college students, pageants provide scholarships. The Miss America Organization is a scholarship pageant and is actually the number one provider of scholarships to women in the world. You don’t even have to win the title to earn scholarship money. In this system, contestants receive scholarship money for winning a preliminary award, winning the overall title, being a runner-up and more. Many women graduate debt-free because of pageantry.” One can clearly deduce from this that her number one motive for contesting for that crown was the goodies. It wasn’t about society, it wasn’t about humanity.
Nevertheless, others have proven by deeds to be different. Many have saved lives, communities and sometimes a whole nation as beauty pageants. For example in Rwanda, although the Miss Rwanda crown comes with lots of advantages, the winner of the crown is expected to work on a number of projects like supporting the disabled, and different groups of the disadvantaged members of the Rwandan society.
Again, the winner is required to follow a clear program such as participating in different social and cultural events either in the country or abroad, as well as participating in international beauty contests including Miss Africa and Miss World.
Also during her reign, Miss Rwanda is expected to travel around Rwanda as well as across the world as an ambassador for her country. She has a duty to uplift her country and act as a role model for all Rwandan citizens.
Miss South Carolina 2016, a student at Clemson University asserted to this when she mentioned that, “If you want to promote a cause that is important to you, increase your self-confidence, challenge beauty standards, learn important career skills, or win scholarship money, consider entering a pageant. If you still say “no way,” at least maybe think twice about the stereotypes you think of when someone mentions a beauty pageant. Pageant girls being nothing more than pretty girls with big hair is a thing of the past. The empowered, independent, driven pageant girls of the future are here to stay.”
I have had several pageants say to me that they are contesting to get relevance in order to promote a cause in society and it is my hope that contestants, especially winners, of the just ended Mr.and Miss Akwaaba went into this contest with such motive.
I won’t talk much but on this day, I am daring especially Lordina Neyram Bessie and Jeffrey Asante to prove the worth of that crown. From my perspective, the crown as it stands now has no value, no worth and no credence. The name tag means nothing until they can change that narrative.
I am daring all the winners and the runner ups of Mr. and Miss Akwaaba to break boundaries; take advantage of the name GIJ and fly with it. Let that crown boost your confidence to soar higher and above all, let each and every one of us who constitute the name GIJ benefit from that crown.
Fortunate or unfortunately, it’s GIJ’s 60th Anniversary this year. Yet we are faced with many challenges as students, and as an Institution. We have given you an ambassadorial crown, let it speak. Let it attract and effect changes and solutions.
This is my dare!
L300 Journalism (Weekend)
Ghana Institute of Journalism