Pageant Pages and their Toxic Positivity

It is no shock that the past week has been a tumultuous one on social media, specifically on Instagram. Several obscure pageant pages on Instagram have targeted Sashes&Scripts of being against a certain beauty queen simply because we posted a graphic on our IG that simply reads, “I Am Worried”.

Three words that would turn their lives upside-down and caused them to a frenzied discharge of miasma.

Imagine how fragile are such egos that it only takes 3 simple words from us to unravel their feeble sanity. How they reacted only illustrates the power we unknowingly yield that it shook them to their core. Accusations and falsehoods later abounded on how toxic and vile seem to be and it was propagated by these social media pages with dodgy reputation.

That is why following the backlash, we written a lengthy piece on why we are concerned on an article titled, “For the Record | I Am Worried“…

Despite clarifying the issue behind the initial Instagram post, there still were clap back from these dodgy pageant pages. Their main gripe? We should get into the flow of only talking of “positive and uplifting” things on social media. That our voice should only be used to amplify the positive message of their choosing.

WHAT IS TOXIC POSITIVITY?
Toxic positivity is the assumption, either by one’s self or others, that despite a person’s emotional pain or difficult situation, they should only have a positive mindset or — my pet peeve term — ‘positive vibes,’” explains Dr. Jaime Zuckerman, a clinical psychologist in Pennsylvania who specializes in, among other things, anxiety disorders and self-esteem.

Toxic positivity can take many forms: It can be a family member who chastises you for expressing frustration instead of listening to why you’re upset. It can be a comment to “look on the bright side” or “be grateful for what you have.”

It can be a meme that tells you to “just change your outlook to be happy.” It can be a friend who repeatedly posts how productive they’re being during lockdown. It can be your own feelings that you shouldn’t dwell on your feelings of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, or fear.

With toxic positivity, negative emotions are seen as inherently bad. Instead, positivity and happiness are compulsively pushed, and authentic human emotional experiences are denied, minimized, or invalidated.

The idea that pointing out what is missing, what is wrongly done/ being done, or critiquing mismanagement, is a form of toxic positivity. When we turn a blind eye on the errors done, we close doors for possible improvement. Arguing how a critique is done doesn’t help either because critiques are never meant to be easy pills to swallow. It is why managers and employees often face annual performance reviews with feelings of dread.

These pages would then argue that feedback should be both positive and negative. That is correct, absolutely. However, when we praised said beauty queen for some body enhancements, these same pages would also be on the offense saying we’re being haters or trolls for talking and being open about it, despite our belief that such enhancement improved her over all look. Imagine what else would they have said if we pointed out other enhancements if it was done on the face? Isn’t it time we become open to normalizing conversations about procedural enhancements? Venezuela, USA, Thailand, Korea and most of Latin America discuss it as if it was just a minor procedure. Why is there still a stigma and shame attached to such procedural enhancements that our pageant girls do even as early as the late 2000’s?

It seems that a large number of these pageant pages are newbies to pageantry. Young and wet behind the ears, they lack the finesse to differentiate the nuanced grays of a critique. Lacking the requisite life experience, they are mostly born in a generation that is disillusioned with how the world operates. Most of them could only categorize issues as either black or white, saying that our past of butting of heads with a certain camp/ groups of pageant people clouds our vision… not being able to understand how it is highly possible that we can compartmentalize our critique of an organization apart from our silent but very real support for a pageant queen. A support that existed even before these pages bandwagoned to support her only after she won the national title.

WOKE SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS ON PAGEANTRY

Upon closer inspection, these pages seems to be managed by admins whose background in pageantry is limited to pretty video edits and reposting or reacting to content posted by other accounts. None of their content is original or invokes thorough investigation or meaningful conversation. Their existence are as echo chambers of larger and more reputable pageant voices like us and the Titas of Pageantry. They react to us, because deep within they know that our words are valuable. Why would they react so disproportionately to a 3-word post on social media?

A snippet from a Medium article written by Tia Osborne titled, “Why I’m Not A Social Justice Warrior” back in November 2019 defines who and what a SJW as: “A social justice warrior describes a person who is willfully trying to make a difference, but they are going about it in the worst possible way. Warriors for social justice typically are students of some humanities degree, who, after being traumatized by American history in college, speak of “tearing down the system” without doing enough thinking, which results in gratuitous amounts of Tweeting hashtags and outrage without actually doing any work or research into solving the problem at hand…Someone who is misdirected in their self-righteousness typically sees any resistance to their call-out as legitimate resistance to societal change.

When these pages talk about the Philippine pageant industry they rarely have clue of what truly happens behind the scenes. It is easy for them to cancel out others with opposing views because their misguided optimism is still influenced by the rose tinted glasses they view pageantry. Their ignorance of the in-fighting, the politics, the smear campaign and mudslinging that happens behind the sparkle of the rhinestone tiara is a blessing not afforded us pageant veterans.

Most of these admins actually do not have connections with the organizers, mentors, pageant camps and some would only know the pageant girls through interactions online. Our years of observing pageant girls when the cameras aren’t rolling, when their mentors invite us to get to know them or a conversation over a late night dinner, you get a real glimpse of what happens behind the velvet rope. Something that a large number of these pages never had access to.

Demonizing us for a decade of writing and pageant coverage does not help their case. It only exposes their self-grandstanding efforts and privileges. Unlike us, these pageant admins rarely show who they are or their faces. And we believe that one should not trust anyone who doesn’t reveal who they are.

There is an Italian proverb that says, “È facile far paura al toro dalla finestra.” Which roughly translates as, “It’s easy to scare a bull from a window.” They are quite aggressive and bold because they have a wall that protects them. But when you take away that safety net and judge them for their character and achievements, they are exposed on the nothingness that they are.

When things get heated and when push comes to shove, none of these pages would speak out and discuss the issues on their feeds. Instead littered on their account are mere fan edits, reposted images and videos, but never the hardcore issues they proclaim to support. During calamities and disasters, they would never share pertinent info on donation drives and charity organizations. They are nothing but pure lip service while putting on a pretty face. These pages, lovely as their feed look, are social media marshmallows. All sweet but of no nutritional value…

And the hilarious thing about that is that they become meek lambs begging away from the slaughter house. They would portray themselves as victims by pageant authorities like us and they lose all their previous bravura.

From L to R: Ross Misa, Catriona Gray and Hillarie Parungao…
Sashes&Scripts: Proud of Its Achievements

We at Sashes&Scripts, unlike these fan accounts, have earned our stripes from our silent beginnings at Mabuhay Beauties on Voy Forums in 2010, to our first crack at pageant writing at Missosology in 2011-2012, to our 5-year stint at managing the Sash Factor forum, Sash Factor Blog and growing its Facebook page to its behemoth self until 2018, and finally to continuing being a strong independent voice with our own brand. We have exerted huge efforts in helping pageant queens in creating concepts for never been done national costumes, brand-building write ups to elevate the images of our local queens, and giving insights to some Philippine reps on what to expect when competing in Miss Universe. We will not be shamed by these meager pages because we worked harder that anybody else to get to where we are.

Why should we be shamed for knowing the inner workings of pageant camps and pageant training when we’ve seen the inner workings of camps and how they operate? Why should we be apologetic for establishing a name when that meant spending thousands of dollars just to cover international pageants and countless number of hours spent on the silent halls of coverage.

The mere fact that these pageant pages do not know the depth and breadth of our involvement in pageantry behind the scenes, speaks more of their ignorance rather than our pride. If we stand together with respected names in pageantry in its higher echelons, that is not because of mere chance or easy opportunity. It was hardwork on our part.

If we roar loudly and everyone stops to listen, that is because this tiger earned its stripes.

SOURCES:

  1. Scully, Simone M. (July 22, 2020). ‘Toxic Positivity’ Is Real — and It’s a Big Problem During the Pandemic. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/toxic-positivity-during-the-pandemic
  2. Osborne, Tia. (November 18, 2019). Why I’m Not A Social Justice Warrior. https://medium.com/@tmarieos324/why-im-not-a-social-justice-warrior-ae3fc1a4f450

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