I handed by camera to a kid and this is what she took. Bawani by Meenu.
Lately I’ve been rather disturbed. I dropped by the beauty pageant I wrote about a few posts back to see what it all meant. I saw the girls parade their bodies like cured ham hanging at the butcher’s display. They strutted down the stage and on cue, exchanged phony coy glances with the audience. I’m led to believe that they were also holding a neckline and hemline race simultaneously. The deepest and shortest wins. When a contestant showed more skin and thigh, some guys chanted, “God is wonderful! God is wonderful”
If a huge chunk of me wasn’t paralyzed by trauma, I might have thrown up. But the crowd might just lay hands on me to exorcise the anti-pageantry spirit in me.
After they announced the winner, their band came on stage to lead the congregation into worship. They clenched their eyes tightly like they were sucking on lemons. Hands were raised all around me and if it wasn’t for my friend next to me, I would have thought I was bound for hell. We just stood there. I couldn’t even follow their karaoke-style words.
So we left when the pastor came on stage to ask for money, aka tithe or offerings. But their usher gave me “the hand.” He didn’t allow us to leave because their pastor was still speaking.
I was thinking of ways to make him feel bad… like maybe wet my pants in desperation and cry a little. But the crowd might just lay hands on me to exorcise the anti-pageantry spirit in me again.
We finally left the place and warmed our souls with hot Vietnamese soup noodles. I’ve never felt the sense of liberation and relief like that in a long time.
All this was last Saturday. It’s almost a week ago and it still haunts me. Every. Single. Thigh. And. Boob.
I don’t know what part God had to play in this, really. I know God was involved in the making of all the body parts, but I’m not sure if He was involved in the showing off. When the winner was announced, the rest became losers. Some of the girls struggled with a smile, some just looked down. I don’t know much about winning, but I know that it wasn’t empowering.
The church (not a specific congregation, but in general) struggles with being relevant. The world thinks it’s easier to sell sex than good causes and when a church organizes a beauty pageant, what is so relevant about the church? It’s no different from the world. Maybe that’s their point, they blend in so well, they’ve become an impostor. Yet its message is no different either: if women wanted to be seen and heard, they’ve got to be physically stunning and flawless and show more skin while they are at it. After all, isn’t God wonderful?
If the church isn’t offering anything new to the world, it’s irrelevant. When it has more things to say about how to flaunt your booties than poverty and justice, it’s already irrelevant. There’s probably more gospel in Little Miss Sunshine than last Saturday’s cured ham display, but I don’t need to be a Christian to disagree with beauty pageants. Feminists are already doing that.