If you're a Nepalese woman in search of a tiara, the outlook is bleak. The ruling Maoist party has postponed the Miss Nepal contest, set to be held this weekend, for the sixth time this year. In the battle between beauty queens and bureaucrats, oddly their takes on the issue are at once at odds and the same.
The women who were supposed to have been in the canceled pageant say they've been "victimized" by the government's decision. The government says they were trying to stop a practice that they say discriminates against some ethnic groups and demeans women. Specifically, according to the Maoist's most senior woman, it's not fair to shorter, darker women and further objectifies the winners by making them appear in toothpaste and shampoo ads.
To see the women's rights ramifications,
The pageant was set to take place in the army's headquarters given the tumult surrounding it. One of the contestants said the cancelation violates women's rights, saying, "I feel like we are under a dictatorship more than being a republic or democratic." The crux of the argument appears to be whether a beauty pageant can further a woman's skills and lifestyle, or whether being judged on looks is a degradation above all else. That argument, however, may be covering up the growing perception that the Maoist party is puritanical and obsessed with social control.
Whose side are you on? Is it a woman's right to be in a pageant? Is the real issue here government control?