We spend a lot of time trying to define beauty rather than expanding the definition to accommodate diverse views of beauty. On the 21st of March at the Maryhill Girls High School, Akili Dada club members and mentors set out to expand our perception of beauty past the stereotypical view of it as the outward appearance. A heated debate based on the motion ‘Beauty pageants bring more harm than good’ provided a good platform for all to air their views. Three proposers and an equal number of those opposing the motion were on the bench given the platform to air their views.

Students proposing the motion based their arguments on a moral ground. Opening with the argument that pageants could lead to moral corruption in a number of forms including but not limited to: showcasing women dressed in skimpy clothing which is imitated by the innocent girls in our society; eradication of the African culture where contestants are often required to fit into the prevailing standard of the day; degradation of values where some models have to bribe their way to the top and lowering of self-esteem. The proposers of the debate argued that some young girls are also forced into beauty pageants which create hostility between the children and their parents. They concluded the first session by arguing  that some of the ladies taking part do not know how to handle defeat making them mortal enemies, each a prey in the eyes of another.

To counter the above, those opposing sited; enhancement of international cohesion, giving the example of the Miss world competitions. They also argued that the art of pageantry fostered a culture of giving back to society on the one hand, and led to the improvement of talent and creativity on the other hand. The opposers felt that pageants lead to the nurturing of role models such as Cecilia Mwangi who create change in their communities, creating awareness as well as creating jobs by bringing in different industries such as marketing and media as the pro’s associated with beauty pageants.

The debate was indeed heated debated with each seeking to have their team present the winning argument. The judges then had a chance to wrap it all up by presenting the winning team. Due to the confidence of their chosen debaters, clarity, and detailed but relevant points, the opposers of the motion walked away victorious. The proposers were encouraged to work on their confidence, clarity and a wider view point when looking for points to support or counter any motion or idea put forward.

All in all, it was a fruitful debate which ended with all in agreement that beauty is not only about the outward appearance but also about the substance in one’s mind that they are able to offer to the society, their inner person and the qualities one has.

*By Clementina Sarange – Gap Year Intern – Akili Dada