One of the most common beauty pageant requirements is that the participant is single, has not had a child not is pregnant. She should neither been married or annulled/ divorced. Why is that so? Why aren’t single women with child/ children cannot be allowed? With the rise of acceptance in more diverse backgrounds and ethnicity in pageant winners, why couldn’t we have this rule overturned?
This is one of the oldest and most common requirement in most beauty pageants. So let’s break it down bit by bit such rule:
1. Single/ Not Married – this is simple. If the title has a “Miss” attached to it then it should follow that the girls who are participating should be unwed. This shouldn’t be up for much debate. Though those who have a common law partnership without children can easily slither into the loophole/s of this rule. Not the case for those that are legally married. There are a number of “Mrs. pageants” that married women can join.
2. Not Pregnant – another no brainer here. If candidate or even a winner gets pregnant she shouldn’t be allowed to compete or finish her reign. Pageant candidates and winners, specially the 4 Alpha pageants, have strenuous activities like constant public appearances, charity work and sponsor commitments. Add to it are the extensive travels during their reign should they win. Such stress may not be healthy for the mother and child, so it is just natural to have this rule imposed. This also protects the organization from future lawsuits that may arise regarding miscarriages during the pageant proper.
3. Has not given birth or have a child – another no brainer as motherhood is a whole different commitment altogether. Pageant reigns typically lasts 12-16 months. To raise a child while serving the requisite contract period is going to be a challenge. You can take a break from being a Miss but not from being a mother. However, on a personal note, I believe unwed mothers should be given an opportunity to join. They may be able to bring in other life experiences to the title that single candidates could not. Thankfully we have the Miss Global pageant that allows unwed mothers to compete in their contest.
4. Has not been annulled or divorced – this is a gray area because technically, those who are annulled or divorced can be termed single (or at the most single parents). This is where I am a bit on the fence as it can be confusing how to delineate the lines on this part.
Miss Universe Organization President has this to say regarding the topic: “You’re an employee for us for the year, so you have to be able to commit to us. If you have a family, or those commitments, it’s gonna be [difficult]. It was probably pushing the envelope for the Army Reserve [with Barber]. You shouldn’t be raising a family while also having to… there are other events for that.”*
While I am open for changes to reverse this “singles only” rule, it should all boil down to commitment. Should the candidate/ winner be able to do her commitments while being pregnant, being a single mother, etc… then she should be able to compete/ finish her reign. But then he old adage “you cannot serve two masters” applies. Somewhere along the line something has to give and they could be forced to face the reality of the situation and stick to one commitment. Everyone can be anything and do it all but not all at once…