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Miss Homeless Pageant: Charitable or Out of Line?

In an act of charity (?!), Belgium social worker Mathilde Pelsers and her daughter, 19-year-old beauty queen Aline Duportail, organized the first-ever "Miss Homeless" Pageant.

The pageant, which took place over two months and included 10 homeless female contestants, was designed to raise awareness for the homeless population, and awarded the winner, 51-year-old Theresa Van Belle with a one-year, rent-free apartment stay — and the title of "Miss Homeless."

While the motivation for the contest seems well-intentioned, the pageantry itself seems a questionable show of support. Surely there are better ways to raise awareness for this cause — ones that don't involve the exploitation of the homeless as pageant spectacles. I don't know about you, but judging homeless women on their runway skills seems in bad taste. So tell me, what do you think? Is the "Miss Homeless" pageant an innovative way to raise support or does it cross the line?

PinkNC PinkNC 7 years
Odd...I think they could have found a better way to raise awareness. Although they do need as much help as they can get.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I agree with a1stbornunico as well. Pageants don't seem like a good way to raise awareness for homelessness; if anything, it just discriminates against people who aren't pretty/talented enough to win the contest. Why not help out with Dress for Success and other charitable organizations that help homeless women get back on their feet?
runningesq runningesq 7 years
what a1stbornunico said ^^ . There are much better ways to help ALL homeless people - pretty or not, man or woman, etc.
insanitypepper insanitypepper 7 years
This is just weird.
a1stbornunicorn a1stbornunicorn 7 years
So we should care more about prettier homeless women? With all the time they spent organizing this they could have been organizing a job and housing resource group and perhaps a job fair. Then they'd be incrementally solving the problem rather than merely raising awareness for it. There are plenty of organizations they could reach out to for help with something more..
Smacks83 Smacks83 7 years
This reminds me a lot of "They Shoot Horses Don't They?"
katoleary katoleary 7 years
Also, a lot of people are complicit in their own exploitation, many because, as in this case, they don't have a choice. Not many homeless people are going to turn down a chance to win free lodging for a year because the means of getting it is unsavory or degrading. It is a luxury to be able to make decisions that will allow one to retain one's dignity. When the other option is staying on the streets, is it really a choice?
katoleary katoleary 7 years
The problem I have with this is that it reinforces the idea that some homeless people are more deserving of our help and compassion than others and that it is relatively easy to determine who is the "most deserving." The also-rans are being thrust out onto the street again. Also, it's great that they gave the winner an apartment for a year, but what are they doing to make this lifestyle sustainable for her? The focus needs to be on helping the homeless develop job skills and matching them with organizations that will supply tangible resources such as food and clothing. The linked article notes that "the contest judged the homeless women on their fashion savvy and runway skills." The whole thing sounds like a rejected ANTM shoot idea.
snarkypants snarkypants 7 years
i think it's innovative. i'm not sure it's exploitation, since don't the contestants have a choice whether or not to enter?
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