Casablanca - In a now deleted Facebook post, the latest contestants of Miss Morocco 2017 were revealed, and with that a disturbing scrutiny of the female body.
Casablanca – In a now deleted Facebook post, the latest contestants of Miss Morocco 2017 were revealed, and with that a disturbing scrutiny of the female body.
Yesterday, a Facebook album full of pictures of 2017’s Miss Morocco selections made the rounds on social media. Contestant after contestant was deeply scrutinized in the comments section. One was criticized for her long neck while another was compared to a camel. No method was spared in the bringing down of these girls. Mocking memes galore for these young women!
The tone of the commentary was clear: “How could she dare compete with that look?” Even some of my friends posted about the roster of women on their Facebook pages, with captions commenting on this year’s ‘disappointing’ selection.
Though the pictures were later deleted from Facebook, probably due to the overwhelmingly negative reactions, news site Journal MRE later posted them.
As a Moroccan woman myself, I am extremely disappointed in the negative responses these contestants have received. I’m disappointed, but I’m not surprised. Throughout the world, we’ve normalized what “beautiful” means. It’s a thin, white and tall girl with perfectly proportionate body parts, straight hair and a light gaze reflecting from her eyes. A gaze not too daring, no. One just bold enough to compete but not daring enough to contest the male patriarchy. And if you dare to think of yourself as “beautiful” and deserving of the “Miss Morocco” title without having these attributes, you absolutely deserve to be taken down by the public. But why?
What makes any of those commenters behind their screens better than any of those competitors? Does thinking you’re “better looking” by societal standards give you the right to scrutinize others? What I have found is that, most often, those bringing others down are secretly insecure themselves. If that’s the case, I encourage you, mean commenter, to use that insecurity and recognize it in an effort to bring yourself up rather than using it to bring others down.
And let me make another thing clear: women were, in large part, scrutinizing these women too. Why do we, as women, insist on bringing each other down? Sometimes, it feels like Moroccan culture itself is a big Miss Morocco pageant. Women in coffee shops across Morocco’s big cities spend hours each weekend sizing each other up. We say that “the worst enemy of a woman is another woman,” and we can clearly see that at play here.
But while women can be each other’s worst enemies, we can also be our greatest allies. I myself have been blessed with incredible female friends by my side…and I’m wondering why that can’t translate to the Internet. Do you think that because you insult other women behind your screen, it doesn’t count? Do you think those girls didn’t go ahead and read each one of those comments? Does criticizing another girl’s looks automatically make you better looking yourself?
Now, I know some of you might say that beauty pageants like these are meant to simply reward women for their beauty, a beauty largely aligned with society’s definition of it. “They know what they got themselves into!” you might say. While I don’t necessarily agree with many of the criteria used by beauty pageants, I also don’t condone criticizing other women’s looks simply because they chose to participate in these pageants.
I think it all comes down to one question: why criticize someone else for their looks?
Does their participation harm anyone in any way? Do they bother you because they’re defying what you think of as beautiful? In any case, nothing really, in my opinion, warrants the kind of aggressive scrutiny these women have received.
I’m hoping that we, as a society, will one day come to understand that we’re really stronger when we support and celebrate each other instead of bringing each other down.