Life’s rich pageant

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I’ve been extremely stressed lately, which means that in those few moments I have to sit down and breathe, my already mushed-out brain wants little more than unmitigated, raw entertainment.

Usually, this means one tawdry thing: Toddlers & Tiaras.

Don’t judge. I’m not proud. The very existence of this show goes against every feminist bone in my body with its promotion of a universe where tiny tots face not just adult beauty standards but also overzealous stage parents and questionable concepts of talent and success.

And yet I watch, horrified but fascinated.

Still, as trashy as this show is in all its prepubescent, flippered-out (look it up), lip-glossed glory, it’s managing to teach me a thing or two about life.

Precisely: Little girls surely grow up to be big terrors. It’s time to do away with beauty pageants, not just for toddlers but also for teens and adults.

Yes, this would force me to change my shameful viewing habits (Little Miss Perfect, I hardly knew you), but it would also mean never having to hear another stupid word from empty-headed idiots such as Carrie Prejean and Lauren Ashley.

Ashley, for the uninitiated, is a Southern California-based beauty pageant “queen” who recently told Fox News that not only does the Bible condemn homosexuality but also that God’s punishment for the crime of “lying down with another man” includes death.

“I feel like God himself created mankind, and he loves everyone, and he has the best for everyone,” Ashley explained during an interview. “If he says that having sex with someone of your same gender is going to bring death upon you, that’s a pretty stern warning. He knows more than we do about life.”

Right, like God (he, she, whatever) probably also knows that the Bible was written by men, not an actual deity. But whatever, I digress—the point is that Ashley almost makes Prejean sound like a gay-loving feminazi.

The city of Beverly Hills has already disowned its association with Ashley. Mayor Nancy Krasne said she is “outraged” over Ashley’s comment and, in a written press release, city officials tried to sever any connection with the contestant.

“Ms. Ashley resides in Pasadena and … does not represent Beverly Hills in any capacity. The City of Beverly Hills strongly condemns Ms. Ashley’s recent statements and has contacted pageant officials to determine ways to formally prevent any beauty contestants claiming the title of Miss Beverly Hills in the future.”

Great—but now let’s take it a step further: California, a supposedly progressive state, needs to ditch beauty pageants altogether.

Beauty pageants are outdated fixations on physical appearance and meaningless “save the world” platitudes and the result is, too often, an embarrassing parade of grotesque show ponies who look disturbingly unreal and sound uninformed, intolerant and even hateful.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the stereotype, but the point is that beauty pageants are not just archaic, they’re also unnecessary.

What do they offer other than cash prizes and scholarships for the contestants? What do the rest of us get out of this outmoded tradition?

Beauty queens are supposed to be ambassadors for the cities, states and countries that they represent, but California (or the rest of the nation, for that matter) doesn’t need a brainlessly vile mannequin representing it at car shows or ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

It’s time to kiss the tiara goodbye.