Do beauty pageants continue to empower women?

Published July 30, 2022, 10:12 AM

by John Legaspi

We asked some of Binibining Pilipinas 2022’s contestants what beauty pageants mean today

Filipinos are big beauty pageant fans. Since the 1920s, the country has been crowning women for their charm and grace through the Manila Carnival, a celebration of the friendship between the United States and the Philippines. As years go by, new national pageants emerged, announcing new sets of Miss Philippines and sending them abroad to compete.

While back then, pageants are deemed as a form of entertainment. It has been also a target of many conversations regarding female exploitation and abuse, and its imposition of unbelievable standards of beauty on women, leading them to suffer mental and physical disorders. 

A significant reassessment was needed in the beauty pageant landscape. In the past years, we’ve seen it transform from being a competition that pitted women against each other to something that is all about sisterhood. It got its new look by seeing things not through the male gaze, but through the eyes of the ladies that make it big. But still, talks about the beauty pageant industry objectifying women are still circulating. And with that, many are still unsure if beauty pageants, a space dedicated to women, is still a platform that champions them beyond their physical appearance. 

To find the answer, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle chats with a few of the contestants of Binibining Pilipinas 2022 pageant and asked them—do beauty pageants continue to empower women?

Voices are heard

While women are now breaking the ceiling in every field, some continue to find it hard for their voices to be heard. For Bb. 25 Annalena Lakrini from Bataan, beauty pageants offer not only a chance for them to share their thoughts and be heard but also an opportunity for them to be the voice for those who cannot speak.

Bb. 25 Annalena Lakrini

“I believe that we should embrace our voices and be the voices for those who can’t be heard,” she says. “Beauty pageants have evolved through the years. I believe that they offer a platform for women to show causes that are dearest to their hearts. It is not just about beauty anymore.”

Avenue for advocacy

Much like Annalena, Bb. 32 Anna De Mesa from Batangas also believes that pageants are a way to shed light on many advocacies. “Each one of us, we have so much to offer,” she muse. “We are here not just to represent our provinces or cities, even ourselves, but more so the causes that we believe in.” 

Bb. 32 Anna De Mesa

In Anna’s case, she wants to be an advocate for out-of-school youth. She wants to help everyone have an equal chance at a good education. The certified public accountant believes that the pageant can help her with her mission.

Demands action

Of course, talking about initiatives is the start, but it is doing the actual work that creates real change. Joining the pageant for the first time during the height inspired Bb. 5 Karen Laurrie Mendoza to take action and reach out to people. 

Bb. 5 Karen Laurrie Mendoza

“I’ve been helping people experiencing anxiety and depression [duing the pandemic,” comeback beauty queen from Iloilo City says. “I created an online support group for mental health. I am not a psychiatrist or psychology major, but my purpose here is to help. All beauty queens here are very inspirational. Each and every one of us has a purpose.”

Inspire fellow Filipino

While many of us aren’t really into winning a crown, it is the sense of fulfilling a dream against all odds that made beauty queens an inspiration to their fellow women. Proving this case is Bb. 24 Patricia Go from Quezon City.

Bb. 24 Patricia Go from Quezon City

“We have different stories. We have different backgrounds. For me, I have a story to tell. I am a miracle baby. I don’t even have a belly button. But despite the imperfections that I have, I still pursue this dream of mine,” the beauty queen-property specialist says. “Binibining Pilipinas gives us a safe space. I want to take this opportunity to be an inspiration to everyone.”

Watch more of our interviews with Binibining Pilipinas 2022 contestants below:

@manilabulletinlifestyle Today on #MBLifestyle Life + Leisure with Bb. 5 Karen Laurrie Mendoza and Bb. 32 Anne De Mesa : Do beauty pageants continue to empower women? For more #SocialNewsPH, visit mb.com.ph. #arts #culture #leisure #newsph #foryoupage #fyp #BeFullyInformed #IAmBinibini #BbPilipinas2022 #BBPGrandCoronation2022 ♬ OH MY – Camino 84

The Grand Coronation Night of the 58th edition of Binibining Pilipinas 2022 is happening on July 31, Sunday, 9 p.m., at the Araneta Coliseum. It will be live-streamed on the pageant’s official Youtube channel.


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