My University Hosted The “Miss Universe” Pageant, And It Was Harmful To Its Students

Via Miss Universe.
By Taylor Kuether
16

This past Sunday, my campus, Florida International University (FIU), hosted an event that perpetuates violence towards women’s body psyche worldwide, Miss Universe.

Miss Universe is an international event that colonizes women’s bodies both on and offstage. This event upholds rigid Eurocentric beauty standards and inherently declares what “diversity” should look like to the rest of the world. FIU declares itself a “Worlds Ahead” university, but what type of educational institution can be “Worlds Ahead” while hosting an imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchal event? Our student body is overwhelmingly Hispanic, and Miami residents themselves already bear incredible pressure to achieve the perfect “beach body.” Hosting this event in a city that already emphasizes the importance of beauty over brains only further damages our community. In this sense, FIU is “Worlds Behind” and is dragging their students, staff and faculty behind along with them. In addition to allegedly taking money from our women’s athletic program to enhance the lighting aesthetics of the stage, FIU also cancelled classes in the event area, blocked off parking for the disabled, and acquired military vehicles and weapons to police bodies outside of the event. In doing this, my university has officially delegitimized itself as a higher educational institution. Higher educational institutions do not host international events that oppress women (and especially women of color) worldwide. Higher educational institutions do not allegedly acquire money from their women’s athletics department for an event that disempowers women worldwide.  Higher educational institutions do not avoid communicating with their faculty, staff and students before hosting such a toxic patriarchal event. Higher educational systems do not forget that they have women as students. Higher educational institutions are supposed to empower their community, not disempower them.  As a Latina – and particularly a Colombian, like the woman who won the Miss Universe event – student at FIU, the hosting of this event showed the world that FIU does not stand up for women of color or the needs of their faculty, staff and students. In hosting this event, FIU showed the world that they are only interested in constructing their image through a vapid and oppressive event by pouring half a million dollars into it, instead of using that money to improve much needed resources on campus. For a university that proclaims a “Worlds Ahead” mantra, it was certainly able to retrograde itself to a “Worlds Behind” university by using funds from the women’s athletics programs and reinforcing ethnocentricity and Eurocentric beauty standards to its diverse community in hosting Miss Universe.

By Taylor Kuether

Taylor is a journalist, feminist, cat enthusiast, and proud Wisconsin native. She works for Feminist Majority Foundation as the Campus Communications Associate. Her two favorite things besides her cat, Emma, are coffee and art museums.

16 comments

  1. As an FIU faculty member, I thank you for your powerful response to this embarrassingly retrograde moment at our university!

  2. Stop being so sensitive. You really aren’t sticking up for anything. How about actually go to a college that is meant for brains because sorry to say FIU isn’t it. Also, it isn’t the best choice for good looking people so I see where your jealousy stems from.

  3. Thank you for a most amazing comment…FIU has had the most IMPRESSIVE and most KILLER WOMEN’S STUDIES PROGRAM..so I know this SlYMBOLIC JUXTAPOSITION at FIU represents what ALL women face on a daily basis…now what/how do women experience/discuss this daily imprinting…
    STARS to you for opening up this dialogue…The ECONOMICS to FIU is like the ECONOMICS to a woman caught in abusive relationship but not able to break free to due self-esteem and $$$ for self and children…YOU YOU have opened up a most most important dialogue to the CORE of Women’s SELF esteem v. $$ surivival..(aka.FIU ecomonic/world wide recognition survival)…YOU ARE SUCH A STAR…Blessings, Dr. Marilyn K. Volker, Sexologist, Gender Specialist..

  4. Unfortunately it looks like you also have bunch of idiot administrators with no thinking ability by allowing such a stupid event in an educational institution. Shame on them. While they are trying to advertise the University without realizing that they are tainting the institution.

  5. What’s wonderful about being an American is appreciating and acknowledging differents points of view. I attended most of the MU events and could not be more proud of my city of Miami, my alma mater FIU and the residents of our great city. Every venue, every event was sold out. It brought us together and reflected to the world that we are an international thriving city. The subject was beautiful women but if you follow the MU tag line of “confidently beautiful” it exemplifies beauty in every way and challenges us to think inwardly about beauty . If you want to challenge stereotypes, I recommend you enter a pageant and I can guarantee you’ll be a better version of yourself at the end of it. Based in your headshot looks like you ‘ll be a great fit !

  6. Excellent expression Laura! Thank you for being the voice for so many people about injustices. I’ve been sitting with so many mixed emotions about Ms. Universe since the weekend. One aspect I love about it (probably the only one) is seeing so many diverse representations of women across the world. That part is so cool to see. However, there are the obvious other reasons why it is not empowering of women including body objectification and colorism. You provided a voice for many of these aspects of the pageant as well as a voice for what institutions do to host an event. Cuidate~

  7. I graduated from FIU magna cum laude, with a bachelor’s degree, in 2012 at age 61. My major was Women’s Studies. FIU’s disgraceful participation in the Miss Universe pageant provides more education about the oppression of women than any college course could. The hierarchy of bureaucrats did not consult students or faculty before this decision, and made only token adjustments in response to our outrage. I wonder how the powers-that-be could be so clueless or is it just that they don’t care about those who they oppress?

  8. Excellent article! You have highlighted very important points. I am also curious to know your position on a slightly different angle to the above problem of beauty pageants in general, which I am trying to summarize below.
    I am a male international FIU student, who was born and raised in India, and have been here in the U.S. at Miami for the last 4 years. Over the past couple of decades, these beauty contests have caught the imagination of Indians like w wildfire! Now, I have seen two sides to any anti-Miss Universe protest. 1. For example, once when it was hosted in India, religious conservatives (of all religions) were up in arms on the pretext that it is an “immoral” event. 2. The other of course is the humanitarian/feminist perspective, as rightly highlighted in your article.
    Pretext 1, I find, has caused an immense harm in shifting the focus from the real issues with these derogatory contests. What ends up happening is that many women, who are enraged by the interference on their decisions by religious bodies, tend to revolt and have become powerful advocates for such beauty pageants. They fail to see what is wrong with such events. So, in a way, the religious/moral “protests” have only strengthened the cause of the proponents of these beauty pageants. And I am not even getting into the men’s mindsets. There are enough men, both for and against these beauty pageants, due to various reasons.
    You are absolutely spot-on about the beauty contests reinforcing Euro-centric beauty standards. I have seen the adverse impact of Euro-centric standards in the form of a severe bias towards the white skin color. Beauty creams, which apparently bleach the epidermis, are a rage in the Indian market. Little doubt that beauty contests contribute towards worsening of the situation (which is already pretty bad due to the impact of British colonialism). Even when the winner is someone not-so-fair, the facial features, etc. are usually Caucasian-like.
    But, I feel it is important for us to emphasize the fact that we are “not with” the moral guardians and the real issue is somewhere else. This, I sometimes find hard to communicate.

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