When most people think of beauty pageants, they think of shiny dresses, beautiful women, and the swimsuit competition. One of the most recognized of these competitions is the Miss America Pageant. The pageant features contestants from all 50 states, who are judged on a multitude of categories including talent, swimsuit, and evening gown. Although these pageants offer a chance for talented, beautiful women to present their themselves and make their states proud, many people see them as based too much on what is consider ideally attractive.

 

A competitor representing the Chichimeca/Mexico Tribe in the dance portion of the competition (america.aljazeera.com)

 

That is why Miss Indian World pageant is different. Firstly, it does not include a swimsuit or evening gown category. Miss Indian World is a competition held for the past 30 years in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It features Indian tribes from Mexico, the U.S., and Canada. The competition revolves around the different cultural customs of each tribe. Each contestant wears their traditional garb, tells traditional stories, and exhibits talents that are related to the traditions of their tribes.

 

Larrly Lynch, a judge for the competition and a member of the Navajo Nation, described what a exemplary contestants saying,

“You’re looking for a young woman who personifies everything about her tribe, her culture, her language, her region, her family, her ancestors.” Rather than displaying the ability to conform to an ideal standard of beauty, the Miss Indian World competition encourages diversity and a beauty based in a knowledge about one’s own culture and traditions.

By not having the evening gown and swimsuit categories, the Miss Indian Pageant focuses on the cultural aspects of each tribe and the knowledge each contestant presents about them.

 

Of course, there is more to the Miss America Pageant than the evening gown and swimsuit competitions, and it makes one wonder what the pageant would look like without these categories. Would we see a greater diversity of body shapes and sizes? What would replace these categories? Could a change like this change the way people view beauty or pageants?

 

What do you think of the Miss Indian Pageant not having the evening gown or swimsuit category? Let me know in the comments below or tweet at me @whatsthesich