For the past few days, I had been seeing articles pop up on my feed about Zimbabwe’s “Beauty Without Brains Syndrome.” While pageant stories show up a lot in my feed, recurrence of this “syndrome” intrigued me.
Here’s the story: in a Zimbabwe pageant, beauty contestant after beauty contestant was coming up short – way short – when it came to answering questions about current affairs. Moreover, their ability to articulate in English was way below acceptable levels. This lack of education among the contestants embarrassed the people of Zimbabwe.
Who cares anyway? After all, this is a beauty contest not an episode of Jeopardy! As I’ve written in past posts, why can’t beauty contestants be judged for the gifts they were given, i.e., beautiful hair, teeth, bodies…you get the idea. What’s wrong with just appreciating others’ beauty … end of story?
But I kinda get the issue here. The beauty contest is sponsored by the country’s tourism bureau. This organization sees its beauty queens as representatives of their country and culture. So it makes perfect sense that it should want its reps to be intelligent too.
You may ask, why should beauty queens be looked at as a culture’s representatives? Why not sports heroes, great teachers or successful businesswoman? Perhaps Zimbabwe’s tourism organizations realize that no matter how much we appreciate strong, athletic, good-hearted people, we are hard-wired to be attracted to beauty. And as depressing … or not … as this sounds, I am happy that Zimbabwe not only wants their beauty queens to be smart but that they believe they CAN be smart! In other words, the belief that beautiful people can’t be smart and vice versa, isn’t at play here.
So, in the end, I applaud the people of Zimbabwe for being haunted by this lack of education among their contestants. Maybe, maybe just maybe, this issue will influence the government to up-level EVERYONE’s education. That’s a pretty good thing, no?