Argentina Town Bans Beauty Pageants; Town Council Concludes Pageants Promote Anorexia

In an effort to campaign for gender equality, the city of Chivilcoy in Argentina has officially put a ban on beauty pageants, saying that such events help promote eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

According to The International Business Times, the small Argentine city has decided to put an end to beauty pageants as a way to stifle the increasing rate of eating disorders among the country’s women. Chivilcoy, a city with around 60,000 people, recently passed the groundbreaking decree putting a halt on any form of beauty pageants within its boundaries.

A statement from the Ministry of Gender and the Assembly for the Rights of Children and Youths of Chivilcoy-Chacabuco-Alberti explained the newly-passed anti-beauty pageants ordinance.

“These contests lead women to believe they are appreciated exclusively for their physical appearance, based on stereotypes. Beauty is not objective. Therefore, trying to classify it in a contest is discriminatory and violent.”

The move received commendations from feminist groups in and out the country, with some describing it as one of the biggest triumphs in feminism this year. Some, however, were not thrilled by the prospect of having beauty pageants completely banned. According to New York Times, a few prominent beauty pageant figures have spoken against the Chivilcoy ordinance. Nadia Cerri, former pageant contestant and director of Miss World Argentina, says totally banning pageants is too far.

“If the only value is beauty, that’s bad, I don’t identify with that. We don’t oblige anybody to take part in the contests,” Cerri said.

Cerri added that the modern beauty pageant industry has made it a point to emphasize other factors aside from judging physical appearance. A contestant’s intellectual mettle is also tested by having her answer questions based on current and pressing social events. A demonstration of talents such as dancing and singing is also a determining factor on who gets to go home with the crown.

Beauty pageants are generally regarded as a sport in most South American countries. In neighboring country Venezuela, for example, it is not unheard of to see aspiring beauty queens join extreme pageant boot-camps where some students as young as 12 are compelled to undergo cosmetic surgery.

Argentina has so far produced three Miss Universe winner, the most recent being Solange Magnano in 1994. In 2009, Magnano died due to a botched surgery aimed to flatten her stomach.

Argentina has a notoriously high number of women with eating disorders. Many women from the country have been observed to suffer from “fashion model syndrome,” according to Independent, and some have blamed the increase in bulimia and anorexia cases on the intense beauty pageant culture in the South American country.

[Image from LHG Creative Photography/Flickr]