BY NICHOLAS OPOLOT
On 15 October 2016, Leah Kagasa was crowned victor of the Miss Uganda beauty pageant, at the Victoria Ballroom of the prestigious Kampala Serena Hotel. Unexpectedly, her crown received backlash from many.
Instead of earning praise and congratulations, she was criticized for her appearance and told of how unworthy she was of the crown. This begs the question, what is beauty? Needless to say, such a discussion often degenerates into a sentimental debate that usually ends in heated conflict.
Nonetheless, let us attempt to answer the question, bearing in mind that this year’s pageant theme was: “Beauty with a purpose”.
The theme was chosen purposely to give young women the opportunity to use their abilities to make a lasting contribution to society. Furthermore, these beauty pageants require contestants to demonstrate their talents. This implies that the pageant winner is chosen on the basis of the exhibition of intelligence, among other aspects. However, as a society are we disappointed when there is a lack of hyper sexualised display of nudity at such events?
Miss Kagasa has fought to challenge such poisonous stereotypes that view women merely on the basis of their physical attributes, minus personality or character considerations.
She has confronted her bullies and aspired to set a precedent of inspiration to other women.
Usually, contestants are reduced to inanimate objects. Women are bullied by an ideal of female beauty, which only a minority can realistically achieve, as a result making them feel inadequate and ugly. On the contrary, true beauty is hidden deep inside our hearts, spirit and soul. It never fades. It only grows brighter with time. Leah Kagasa’s win is an attempt to save the female species from slavery.
Whereas everyone is entitled to their own views and perceptions, Kagasa’s reward is well-deserved, a noble appreciation of her specific contribution to our society. Whatever it is that we perceive as beautiful, it should not deter us from appreciating those that are different and are working hard to achieve what they so honestly deserve.