This article is fascinating on a variety of levels.
It describes the "Miss Beautiful Morals" paegant in Saudi Arabia. It was briefly described this way:
But at Saudi Arabia's only beauty pageant, the judges don't care about a perfect figure or face. What they're looking for in the quest for "Miss Beautiful Morals" is the contestant who shows the most devotion and respect for her parents. [Emphasis mine]Given that Islamic law requires women to be almost completely covered, swimsuits and curvaceous-ness are not part of the program. Instead of fleshly beauty, the focus is on (as one organizer said) "beauty of the soul and the morals" of the contestants.
Some interesting facts:
- The paegant is now in its second year. 75 women participated last year; this year it is nearly 200.
- Contestants are between the ages of 15 and 25.
- The contestants will spend ten weeks taking classes and quizzes on various elements of Islamic ladyhood. They will also be observed for one day at a country house, being judged on how each interacts with her mother.
- The paegant is not televised and all the judges are women. Therefore, they are not always required to wear the long robes that are worn in public.
- The winner receives about $2600 and other prizes. Two runners-up each will receive $1300.
- Prior to this paegant, the only "beauty paegants" in Saudi Arabia were for animals.
"I tell this year's contestants that winning is not important," said al-Shurafa, a 21-year-old English major. "What is important is obeying your parents."Seems a far cry from the Miss USA paegant, huh? Might this be one of those areas where the Western and Islamic realms really could learn something from each other?? Imagine: A beauty paegant with modestly-dressed women (and I don't mean that in the Arab-world sense) being judged on their respect for parents, their intelligence and skills, and their beauty? Could this work?