The topic of beauty of woman is, indeed, very interesting as woman herself. It has been the favourite theme of bards of all times. It has been the inspiration for all our immortal works of art- in literature, painting, sculpture and so on. After paying due praise to beauty, when we think more practically, we realize the truth of the maxim-'Beauty is skin-deep' and also that beauty is not at all a necessary condition for happiness.
Down the ages, as learnt from history and mythology, beauty of a woman has brought only havoc to families, societies and nations as a whole. Kingdoms have fallen, battles are fought and thousands are slain. The beauty of Cleopatra changed the fate of the Roman Empire, killing so many heroes. The beauty of Sita incited Ravana to abduct her, leading to his downfall, however great his worth and achievements were. The beauty of Helen of Troy was the cause for all the trouble-filled adventures narrated in Homer's 'Illiad' and 'Odyssey'. In view of these facts it is very doubtful whether extraordinary beauty is a bane or blessing to a woman and those around her.
A woman, of course, must and can look pleasant to make a happy home. But this pleasantness is born rather out of innate radiance, a genial smile, a well-groomed appearance, a tastefully selected dress and ornaments and not out of fair complexion, sharp features, tall stature and certain standard measurements of body parts. Being beautiful, on the other hand, is a gift by birth and a rare thing also. Most often women who are beautiful by birth have a tendency to be haughty, looking down upon less beautiful women with contempt. This is a negative aspect of beauty creating an atmosphere of jealousy, bitterness and ill-feelings among women. Considering the natural tendency of the beautiful women to being proud, a public pampering of their beauty by conducting beauty contests only widens the rift between the beautiful and the not-so-beautiful.
Beauty contest in the first place, is essentially a part of western culture. In the past few years the cinema industry of Mumbai and Chennai have started importing Hollywood fashions much to the chagrin of concerned elders and well-wishers of society. These fashions have vitiated the minds of Indian youth and have made them ape the ways and manners of westerners. The introduction of satellite channels in television has clinched the cultural tragedy by bringing unabashed scenes of western lifestyle right into the drawing rooms of conservative Indian homes. In India men and women do not have the habit of hugging and kissing in public. Our traditional sense of propriety prohibits such public exhibition of emotion. Even married partners desist from these acts outside their bedroom. A clear evidence of culture difference.
The concepts of womanhood and marriage in western society are also completely different from ours. It is quite common in the West for a woman to marry and to divorce many times. Divorce and remarriage among Indian women are comparatively rare. In a society where lifetime marriage compatibility is in practice, life is peaceful and progressive. It is a mark of supreme excellence of human civilization. Lifetime partnership in marriage ensures moral, mental and physical health. It brings real happiness and fulfillment not found in wife-swapping western culture.
Indian women are different from their western counterparts: they do not smoke, do not drink, do not roam the streets in semi-nudity. An excellent sense of values are inculcated in the minds of growing children in Indian families. The Indian woman wears the priceless jewel of modesty with pride. She shuns, abhors the shameless gaze or touch of strangers. In our country only women of ill-repute and sinful profession show off their beauty with brazen wantonness. Girls from respectable families follow a clear code of conduct adhering to propriety and decency. Indian culture has its merits and beauty contests cut at the roots of our national, social integrity.
The popularity of beautiful women among admirers the world over has, nowadays, created a very vicious trend in Indian marriage scenario. In the matrimonial columns of all newspapers and magazines we find advertisements from eligible bachelors invariably seeking alliance with 'tall, fair' brides. It is surprising to see beauty being so over-emphasized. One wonders if beauty makes insignificant other essential qualifications which are to be reasonably expected from a prospective wife. In our society this growing preference for 'tall, fair' brides is a cause for concern. In days gone by such undue importance was not given to beauty of the bride. People generally asked, 'Is she literate?', 'Does she cook well?', 'Is she good at housekeeping?'. These virtues weighed more in favor of the bride than mere physical charm.
The highest glory of Indian woman is her motherhood. Sanctity surrounds her role as the deity of the home. She is special and dignified. She draws respect from all quarters. But now she is tempted to flaunt her glamour in front of everybody. She is degraded to the level of a commercial product put on exhibition. Marketers flock her to make best use of her glamour to sell off their products and fill their pockets . It is sheer exploitation. The beautiful woman succumbs to this attracted by the fame and financial gains.
Our country (India) is struggling hard to uplift the poor and the down-trodden. The extravaganza of beauty contests is out of place in a fast developing country like ours. We cannot afford it. It is atrocious. The lakhs and crores spent on them can well go to create jobs for the millions of unemployed youth in our country. We badly need money to tap our natural resources to the full. There are hosts of important schemes lying idle for want of funds. There are hundreds of projects for fulfilling the basic needs of people which are pending completion for dearth of finance. The money spent in conducting beauty contests can well be diverted to welfare schemes of the country.
What is there in a beauty contest for the fair sex as a whole to be proud of? Nothing is gained by crowning a woman as Miss World or Miss Universe. But much will be gained by reforming the backward societies on the globe where atrocities are committed against women, where barbarous acts like circumcision of girls are done to this day. There are many worthwhile missions like Mother Theresa's to be carried out. In the grim background of destitute, wronged and neglected womenfolk all over the world the empty glamour of a soap bubble-beauty contest-is worthless and shows the callous indifference of the sponsors to suffering humanity.