Beauty Pageant in Bulaklakan: Essay

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Being able to stand out among 21 diverse mademoiselles is the next big thing for the indwellers of the land known as Bulaklakan. Considered as the ‘Culture Capital’, the annual tournament of physique and cognition is held to celebrate the integral aesthetics of mademoiselles while being able to partake in the opportunity of honoring the arts, culture, and heritage of the said nation. During the month of September, aspiring mademoiselles who possess the winning touchstone for the yearly tournament are randomly drawn from the 21 respective localities found in Bulaklakan to undergo the nine stages of becoming the ‘fairest mademoiselle with a purpose’. Each of the 21 localities is necessitated to pick out the most eligible player who would best mirror its character and would dare to own the royal head gear of victory—the diadein. Throughout the tournament, watchmen serve as surveillances witnessing how the fairest mademoiselle will ace the extensive line of rivalry and climb its way up to deserve the royal head gear, which is to be vested by the Trategisma. Winning the tournament entails the testing of the different areas of power owned by each mademoiselle—within the nine stages, the 21 players will be given the chance to showcase what strengths they have got and how will these make them stand out among others throughout the duration of the battle. Beginning with the first stage called the Tionducpro Bernum, mademoiselles sway their bodies to the music of their personalities so as to build up a striking first impression to the Trategisma—for every move they portray, the challenge is to exhibit varying aspects of their character for only a limited period of time and action. Moving on with the second stage known as the Lenta Tionpor, three to five minutes will be provided for the players’ excellent showcase of the possessed strength that is most dominant in them which can be in the form of either emitting melodiously drawn tones through the hitting of musical notes, or accompanying rhythmic bodily movements with appropriate musical sounds of succession. After which, comes the third stage termed as the Ualcas Raew where guarantors determine a specific theme of a clothing ensemble and the 21 mademoiselles wearing it must come up with a one-of-a-kind projection, embodying their exceptional style among the several flavors put forward in the tournament. Subsequently, in the fourth stage named as the Strops Reaw, the players must be able to exhibit their aggressive visage as they move out from their conforming and prejudiced reputation of being modest and demure. In other words, this stage puts the players into a battle of fierceness. In contrast to the previous stage, the fifth stage entitled Malfor Reaw, mademoiselles are tasked to flaunt a semblance of splendor and elegance by making use of long flowing cuts of luxurious fabric sutured into a single garment. Succeeding the stage of elegance is the sixth stage identified as Bankasing Tireat where the 21 players highlight the promotion of their locality’s heritage in the form of embellished textiles created by enchanted sophies, purposely made to fit mademoiselles engaged in the tournament. The very purpose of these custom-made luxury pieces is to depict an inter-locality match among the players. Next of, is the most sensational stage recognized as the Tionques nad Werans, where watchmen eagerly scrutinize the performance of the 21 mademoiselles in exercising the power of reasoning and incisiveness in proving their awareness concerning the vivacious chronicle of Bulaklakan. In here, Trategismas assess how the 21 players epitomize the fusion of ancient principles and contemporary epoch in tourism-rooted avowals. Thereafter, comes the long-awaited part referred to as the Dingwara Nymorece—Trategismas determine the most prominent mademoiselles in the various areas of power being contended for and grants them with bands serving as emblems of an honorary. These bands designate respective players of the following entitlements: Snapshot Aesthetic, Jewel of the Watchmen, Mademoiselle of Amicability, and Finest Apparel Splendor. Most especially, it is in this part that watchmen are able to behold the bestowal of the diadein to the fairest mademoiselle by the chief of the Trategismas. Finally, the tournament culminates by the time the royal head gear of victory is worn by the fairest mademoiselle, who then walks eventually with pride; projecting a powerful character of brainpower, conviction, composure, charisma and meekness above all. In simpler terms, the victor of the tournament echoes the truest and richest heritage of the Bulaklakan as the ‘Culture Capital’.

The journey of owning the crown starts with a screening where one has to make sure that she meets the different requirements such as age, height, nationality, weight and many more. These requirements depend on the kind of pageant one is going to join; some categories include fashion show for teens, kids, women, and men. It is true that beauty pageants are battles of beauty and brains. In a general sense, it is already a given that people who enter pageants have the looks, projection, and the body. The challenge now for them is how would they be able to make use of their facial expressions to connect to the audience and have them understand what is being done on stage for every particular portion of the competition. And to add to that, a candidate must have an advocacy to pursue throughout her reign—aside from the competition of looks and intelligence, beauty pageants must also serve as manifestations of the contestants’ campaigns of giving back to the appropriate members of the society. In this sense, this particular advocacy will serve as an inspiration that one has to win the title, to keep going on and aiming high not only for herself but also for the whole community. In return of the community service, candidates are able to boost their confidence as they are able to establish friendships with the people they mingle with during the entire duration of the competition— though they started their pageant stories having their fears and self-doubt at its peak, they eventually learned how to explore and go beyond their comfort zones by engaging in different fashion shows. As the interviewee would put it, “You don’t have to be a 10/10 beauty queen to bring home the crown, enjoying the whole experience of making it till the end of the competition is already enough to call yourself a winner. So, keep your chin up despite all the challenges in life because we all have that invisible crown! You already have the beauty and brain, the most important thing then is to believe in Him that no matter what happens, He’ll be walking with you” (A. Gutierrez, personal communication, September 28, 2019).

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Insights: What Did I Learn?

Pageants are well-known for imposing a stereotypical image of beauty among women. But by delving deeper into the relationship of women and beauty, through both etic and emic lenses, I have come to know that beauty pageants are more so dedicated to portray the idea of beauty beyond the physical attribute, that there is more for women to achieve rather than just being a pretty face. It is a women empowerment movement that reflects women being not only concerned with self-development but also has a heart for those in need—it shows that beauty surpasses the thought of just winning the crown by being recognized as a brave lady who is able to rise back from where she stumbles, at the same time being able to spring this powerful character to the people around her. Moreover, it is for the ladies to realize that they possess the same worth as other women, no matter how diverse their identities from one another may be, that there will always be a bad side which is inevitable but nevertheless, must not hinder their progress as a person of confidence. Every woman in the audience must also be able to gain the same realization about their selves. Simply put, pageants exist neither to objectify women nor set an insatiable standard of beauty, but rather just to convey how great any woman can be by looks and by her heart for others.

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