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Is Mr. AHS satirical fun or a serious matter?

By Aleeza Zinn

A group of the school’s most outgoing boys flaunted their stuff in the annual Mr. AHS male beauty pageant on April 15, but this year we pose the question, why does our school find it acceptable for boys to have a beauty pageant and not girls?

Mr. AHS is a satirical beauty pageant for boys. The purpose of this spectacle is to “hopefully make the audience laugh,” said Sven-Erik Said, leadership student and junior at AHS. “We want to have a more, I would say, relaxed environment… to ease the stress of upcoming AP tests and quarter grades and semester grades.”

The show consisted of sections for swimwear, casual wear, formal wear, talent, questions, and an impromptu twerking competition at the end. Of course, when one of the boys was twerking, his pants ripped right on the seam of his behind.

Yes, most of the performances were hilarious and clever, but part of the reason for that is because everyone was male. Why is it that if teenage girls were doing the same acts–walking around in bathing suits or formal wear–people would probably not have found it appropriate, or funny?

For each section of the show, the contestants came out from behind a curtain and mockingly walked around the stage, doing their best catwalk impressions. Similar to the movie “Zoolander,” the boys exaggerated their modeling moves and poked fun at the world of catwalks, making the crowd go wild.

I believe this ‘joking’ part of the show would be socially acceptable for girls to do as well. Yet, why don’t they? The simple and obvious answer is because women are generally the ones in the pageant and catwalk world. Since women take the shows seriously, boys have the opportunity to satirize it.

“I think there are plenty of female pageants around the country that girls can participate in, but there are not many male ones and I think if the school puts one on that’s very cool,” said Aidan Potts, sophomore and Mr. AHS contestant.

While I agree with Potts that it is refreshing for our school to put on a different kind of pageant, I wonder if it is O.K. to have this pageant make fun of real beauty pageants. Society tends to make it .K for boys to ridicule things that girls take seriously, and to mock girls in general.

“[Mr. AHS] makes me kind of uncomfortable. I think that people say that if guys do [beauty pageants] too, if guys are sexualized and objectified too then it’s OK, but the solution to ending sexism and objectification isn’t to do it to both genders, it’s to do it to neither,” said Allie Solomon, sophomore and member of the feminist club Girl Up at Alameda High School.

I remember being in elementary school and the motto was, “if a boy is mean to you it means he likes you.” This simple statement reinforces the idea that it is acceptable for men to deride women. In some twisted logic it means the boy likes you, so you should be nice to him despite the way he treats you.

“I don’t want to say anything rude or anything, but I do see the flaw in having a female beauty pageant is that there’s going to be a lot more tension between the contestants, and they might be taking this a lot more seriously,” said Said.

Leadership may consider doing a female beauty pageant in the future, but that may create a new set of problems.

If the pageant were for AHS’s girls, then the crowd would undoubtedly be different and the event would most likely be seen in a different light. People may consider the pageant to be a serious event and not a satirical one. While I personally do not condone beauty pageants, there is nothing wrong with other people taking pageants seriously. However, the school might not allow such a show. The dress code prohibits spaghetti straps and shorts. Can you imagine the administration allowing bikinis?

Would more people go to the pageant? Fewer? We may never know, and maybe that’s a good thing.

“I think that just by themselves beauty pageants aren’t bad, but the way society treats them gives a negative effect to girls who do it. I know personally it would make me very uncomfortable. If I was participating and I didn’t win, I would feel bad about myself and that I was being judged based only on my looks and I just don’t think that’s OK,” said Solomon.

While a female beauty pageant at AHS would be a controversial event, the male beauty pageant is an acceptable one. I cannot help but notice that gender matters.

Beauty pageants tend to objectify women, which often leads to oppression against women. Compared to women, men do not have a similar history of being objectified.

In an article written by Jasmin Tokko for the media site Finals and Fries, the reporter states that beauty pageants “portray to women and little girls a specific idea of what is beautiful. This encourages them to pursue that image, either through spending money on fashion, cosmetics, hair, and even doing surgeries.”

The standards for women are very high and beauty pageants help to promote these standards. Social standards of beauty are only attainable by a select few. These standards are achieved through endless amounts of makeup and surgeries, not by natural beauty.

Men do not have these standards, and actually play a part in creating them. If a boy says he thinks one of the Kardashians, who are at the top of the list of unnatural beauty standards, is attractive and he wished more girls looked like them, a girl may take that as a cue to try to imitate the Kardashian look. Now, the girl feels insecure about herself and takes many measures to reinvent her appearance. I realize I may be completely wrong about this, but if this situation were reversed, and a girl made a comment like that to a boy, I cannot picture a boy reacting in the same way.

Perhaps over analyzing a fun AHS tradition is unnecessary and ruins the humorous event. Or, maybe it is time that society analyzes what we find funny and acceptable. Should it be OK for boys to poke fun at something some girls take seriously? Should it be OK for girls to have a Ms. AHS? There is no answer at the moment, and there may not be one for some time. For now, this can just be some food for thought.

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The Oak Leaf, a product of the journalism class, is a vehicle of student expression and a public forum for the Alameda High School community.