Beauty Pageants and Body Positivity

The efficacy of beauty pageants is often debated. Some people argue that pageants contribute to self-esteem and self-worth, while others say the process is degrading and can lead to prolonged and permanent psychological issues. 

According to pageant operators, the purpose of these events is to promote body positivity and to encourage self-care, but are pageants doing anything to ensure girls and women of all shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds are viewed through an objective lens?

Efforts Toward Change

In recent years, the world has witnessed transgender participants both disqualified and welcomed to compete in pageants. Additionally, many pageants are now presenting more diversified talent, and efforts have been made to include pageantry options for plus-sized individuals. Finally, the Miss America pageant eliminated its swimsuit competition in 2018. While many positive changes have occurred and continue to occur, are they enough to distract from the pedestal of commercialism that seems to dictate the terms of beauty?

A Steep Hill To Climb

It is impossible to ignore the underlying problem of conventional beauty pageants: women are rated on their appearance, which dictates their success. It is a cynical message, to say the least. The idea that a select few women represent the cultural ideal of beauty and that all women must alter their appearance to conform to such standards if they wish to be deemed beautiful is ludicrous and insulting.

A platform where women compete based on appearance is degrading, and it has a long history of promoting body-shaming, low-self-worth, and eating disorders. While pageants stand by their mission to promote body positivity, the reality is counter to the desire.

Winners of beauty pageants might feel the sense of self-worth and accomplishment that comes from taking home a prize and trophy but is that self-worth built on the individual presence or outsider appreciation. 

Finding Worth From the Inside Out

Beauty pageants are trying to create more inclusive environments, and some of the messaging is starting to include a more body-positive focus. However, the presence and popularity of pageants are still problematic from a self-esteem standpoint. As a woman, the constant and daily battle is proving you are more than your body.

The sexualization and objectification of the female form is nothing new; it is engrained in society. Pageants epitomize the belief that physical form means more than psychological value. While telling women to look inward to find their beauty and power is simple, it is not a straightforward process. 

Women are bombarded every day with magazines, social commentary, and any number of mediums and personal relationships telling them how to look and act. The idea of physical beauty becomes an obsession, and unfortunately, pageants continue to promote it.

There is no way a beauty pageant can ever promote the idea that inner beauty — confidence, intelligence, compassion, etc. — is more valuable than external beauty because it is a competition based on physical attributes above all else.

Realizing All Women Are Beautiful

All women, all people really, are beautiful; it is a message everyone should get behind. Your physical appearance does not and should not represent your worth to yourself or society. Your goal in life should be to be as healthy and happy as possible so that you can live as long as possible.

Beauty pageants are trying to change. Still, as long as they promote physical worth as equivalent to self-worth, they continue to fail. 

How do you feel about recent beauty pageant changes, and do you think it's enough?

6 Amazing Places on Your Body That Can Relieve Stress

According to traditional Chinese medicine, certain pressure points help restore balance to the body's natural energy flow. In the West, health professionals think that these points may alleviate muscle tension and tell your brain to release endorphins, natural feel-good hormones that help with pain and stress. Here's how to find them.

1. Your Temples (Taiyang)

Many people automatically massage their temples when their head throbs. This point is also used in alternative medicine for helping with anxiety and relieving tension headaches.

Press your index and middle finger gently against one of your temples. Slowly breathe in and out while rubbing this point in a circular direction for 10–15 seconds. At the end, hold your fingers in the center of the temples for a minute and slowly release.

2. The Middle of Your Chest (Shanzhong)

This stress-relieving point is in the middle of your sternum, or breastbone. Both men and women can find it by tracing a line directly from the nipples to the center of the chest.

Use three fingers to press and hold this point. Use firm-but-gentle pressure, taking care not to bruise. Hold this point for three minutes and breathe deeply the whole time.

3. Your Foot Arch (Yong Quan)

In traditional Chinese medicine, this point is called Bubbling Spring. It’s in the middle of the sole of your foot, near the base of your big toe. Put your thumb right where the foot arch begins, about one-third down from the toes and two-thirds of the way up from your heel.

Apply firm pressure and gently move your thumb in a circular motion. This point is believed to provide calming effects and help with blurry vision and dizziness.

4. Between Your Eyebrows (Yintang)

Finding this point is easier if you look in the mirror. It’s located directly between your two eyebrows. Hold this point or massage in a circular motion for 3–5 minutes.

Yintang can calm you down when you’re feeling irritable or worried. It’s also commonly used to help with pain.

5. Your Forearm (Neiguan)

This is one of the most used pressure points for stress. It’s located on your forearm, on the outside of the wrist. Measure about three finger widths from your wrist, tracing a point down from the largest tendon. Neiguan is between the two large tendons.

Gently breathe and hold this pressure point with your thumb for several minutes. Take 10 deep breaths as you move your thumb in a circular motion. This pressure point is easy for anyone to master (it’s one of my favorites), so don’t be surprised if you use it a lot.

6. Between the Thumb and Index Finger (Hegu)

Another easy pressure point to master, Hegu is one many people have heard of but get wrong. You can find it in the webbing between your thumb and forefinger, but to get relief you need to reach a little further down, to the point right in front of where you feel the bones meet. Hold this point for three minutes.

The best way to find out which pressure points help you personally is to try them! It only takes about 10 minutes and you can keep track of the ones that give you the most stress relief. To boost the effect, give these points a gentle massage while listening to calming music or relaxing with positive scents.