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The beauty con-job

by Deputy Editor

the man who started beauty pageants, Phineas Taylor Barnum, an American businessman was a scam or confidence artist.
In short and simple terms, he was a conman interested in nothing else but to ‘put money in his own coffers’.
Barnum, who also ran a circus - Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus - is believed to have said: ‘There’s a sucker born every minute’.
Although Barnum’s fans today deny that he said it, on Saturday I felt conned and a sucker when I watched the Miss Namibia finals at the Country Club.
I asked myself whether being thin is being beautiful or that being big means ugly.
But yes, it must be very hard to be a beauty pageant judge because all the contestants look the same – like thin tall gum trees!
One needs a sharp eye to tell the difference from one girl to the other because of the plainness and the dreary sameness.
But yes, the judges always seem to see through the contestants and pick that tall, thin beauty which qualifies to be a symbol of beauty and excellence - a national representative of African beauty.
A symbol of beauty and excellence, real? So it means that if one says thin women, they are talking about beauty and elegance? And if one says thick women, they are talking about being ugly?
If this is not so, why do we still stereotype beauty as tall, thin women who look more like frightened bucks caught up in a snare? Or even like girls coming from a famine-struck country somewhere in North Africa or from deep the jungles of Burma?
Maybe, those who thought about beauty knew exactly how the first woman, Eve, looked like or all the other women who walked this earth in the early days.
This idea of stereotyping beauty goes against the grain of democracy. It’s segregatory, discriminatory, incriminatory, demeaning, divisive, character-assassinating, shaming, shunning and yes, alienating.
What do thick women say? Do they look at themselves and say ‘we are also beautiful? We also deserve respect?’ when the nation has been fed the notion that beauty is in being thin?
And what about their husband - will they look at their wives and see beauty when the media knocks the idea into their heads that only in thinness, and nowhere else, is true beauty?  
Think of children whose mothers are big – will they have respect for them when they are told that only those who are thin are the real symbols of beauty and excellence?
The Miss Namibia patron, Minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana herself is not thin. She has the body of a real African woman – a mother whose presence can be felt.
There, I have used the word African and before you say I am being racist, I will hasten to say that in Namibia all women across the racial and ethnic barriers are generally big.
Go to Rehoboth; look to the South; think of the north; and cruise up to Caprivi and then check out Kavango. It’s not rare to see proudly-heavily built women.
There are times when you walk behind a white woman and mistakenly believe that she is from Keetmanshoop or Rehoboth because of the round huge hips.
Namibia, like KwaZulu-Natal, is most probably one the places where one can find big beautiful women.
This is why it is unbelievable that out of the 1 065 803 women in Namibia, the 15 tall, thin girls paraded on Saturday at the Country Club represent the true beauty and excellence of the nation.  This is where discrimination and stereotyping come in.
The question now is: What do we do with all the girls whose bones are strong and bodies big?