Friday, 12 August 2016

The madness of beauty pageants in Benue State ~ Naomi Oboyi

Once upon a time in Benue and indeed Nigeria, beauty pageants were strongly regarded as platforms that showcased the true beauty and intelligence of the Nigerian girl.

We miss the good old days when our beauty queens walked around with so much pride and dignity.

I remember way back, as a fresh pre-degree student of the Benue State University, Makurdi, my roommates told me so many beautiful stories about the Official Miss Benue Beauty Pageant and how they looked forward to it every year.

Sadly, it’s a different story today, as disrepute has taken the place of the prestige that comes with the crown and office of a beauty queen in Benue State.

“If asked to choose role models out of the ‘thousands’ of Benue beauty queens, for young Benue girls, I will not come back with a handful of true beauty queens,” these were the words of a public affairs analyst.

I once eavesdropped on a conversation and I heard some folks saying, “every girl for Makurdi now na kwin. Small time now, we go start to dey see Miss Wadata and Miss Gyado Villa.”

I laughed it off at that point, but shortly afterwards, I saw a flyer promoting a ‘Miss Judges Quarters’ beauty pageant, as though that wasn’t enough, I stumbled on another ‘Miss PDP’ pageant. At that point, I knew that the business had taken a quantum leap in Benue.

Being a major compere at most of the beauty pageant shows in the state, I prepared my mind for the day that I just might be invited to be a Master of Ceremonies at a ‘Miss Gyado Villa’ pageant.

The truth is, beauty pageants have contributed a great deal in keeping lots of Nigerian and even Benue youths busy and productive with monetary gains for both the winners and organisers through sponsorship from individuals and corporate organisations.

There’s no point doubting the fact that beauty contests have contributed in the creation of employments for youths in the state, but on the other hand, the upsurge of beauty pageants in Benue is alarming, to say the least.

They keep springing up everyday like mushrooms, such that almost every local government area in the state now has a crowned beauty queen.

For some people, this is regarded as a good development, for others, most Benue beauty pageants have lost value.

Our girls now fall over themselves just to become beauty queens, they desperately want to be addressed as ‘Her Royal Majesty’, they’re willing to do just about anything to achieve this.

The show organisers on the other hand have discovered this and they have turned our young future mothers into pawns that they use to get what they want.

My question is: what exactly is the point of these pageants? What morals are they teaching our young girls?

Another pertinent question begging for answer is: what exactly is the motivation on the part of our future mothers? Why are they so desperate about about winning a beauty contest?

Is it the car, the crown, the fame, the connection, the courtesy calls, or the platform to give back to the society? These and more questions are still begging for answers.

Ladies, I honestly do not know why some of us are so eager to become “beauty queens” though, but if the end goal is to make quick money or to oppress other ‘queenless’ girls with your crown, then it is quite unfortunate.

The new style is to advertise a beauty contest, even when there’s no car at hand, the organisers still put up a picture of a car on the flyer and wait for the girls to buy the forms. The eventual winner ends up buying the car for herself after embarking on thousands of ‘courtesy visits’.

Little wonder we hear of queens fighting their organisers and being decrowned in the process.

How did we get to this point? How did it become so bad? Can we still restore the pride and and dignity of beauty pageant shows and that of the crowned queen?

***For the record, Benue State has the highest number of beauty queens in Nigeria (according to the Association Of Beauty Pageants and Fashion Exhibition Organisers Of Nigeria, ABPFEON).

My name is Naomee, I’m not a member of the red chamber, but I just want to make common sense… (apologies to Ben Bruce).

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