November 07, 2007

Beauty pageant = female pride

Prairie Miller Up Close and Personal with Miss NavajoFunded by the Sundance Institute Native Program, Miss Navajo is filmmaker Billy Luther's reverential tribute to his mom, a former winner of the annual Miss Navajo beauty pageant in Table Mesa, New Mexico, and a celebration of the collective womanhood of the Navajo Nation. Don't expect the usual bosomy bathing suit runway stiletto strutting, aspiring girl goddess hair and makeup regimens, coveting of Madison Ave and Hollywood contracts, and flirty come-ons to the crowd, because the Miss Navajo pageant is strictly about female pride, and being smart, creative and immersed in the wisdom and continuity of traditions and tribal roots.

A welcome antidote to the dominant society's soulless spectacle of the female sex object glamour girl gladiators scrutinized so brutally in the feature film Little Miss Sunshine, Miss Navajo has much to enlighten and convey to American women about self-respect, gender consciousness, honoring historical memory, and collective unity versus ruthless competition. Miss Navajo also ends on a tender, lyrical and euphoric note, with the reciting of a Navajo poem honoring the proudly unshorn hair of women, not for its powers of male seduction, but rather as passionate personal and tribal expressions of emotional state of being and shared gender identity.
Comment:  When you call it a beauty pageant, you immediately have to explain that it's not really a beauty pageant. It's more of a culture pageant. Therefore, why not give it a different name? Eliminate the association with the American concept of beauty.

The Diné have the concept of hózhó, or walking in beauty. This expresses many of their cultural values. Therefore, why not call it the Miss Navajo Hózhó Pageant? It's a pageant, yes, but it's about hózhó, not "beauty."

Just a thought....

4 comments:

russell said...

Writerfella here --
And just a thought in return: it cannot be called 'hozho' anything because the term is generic and gender ambiguous at that, according to writerfella's Navajo artist friend, Anderson Dyer. It applies to men and women equally, even children and pet animals and one's own physical surroundings, such as a house or a hogan. "One who walks in beauty' could even mean feeling happy or satisfied or being at peace. Native languages and words for too long have been misused or misquoted or misinterpreted, even faked such as -Kemo save-. 'Decimate' your own languages, please...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

It was a thought, not a serious suggestion. A serious suggestion would be to use an appropriate (and gender-specific) Navajo word that conveys the idea of inner or personal beauty.

I guess you have nothing to say about the concept of Navajo women parading under the English/Latinate phrase "beauty pageant" and all it represents. In other words, you've missed the forest for the trees.

russell said...

Writerfella here --
Perhaps, but only if writerfella commits himself toward unwarranted interference in other people's lives because of an opinion. Hasn't happened yet, as writerfella knows that opinions never are facts, and facts never are opinions...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

My blog doesn't interfere in anyone's life, so your opinion on the matter is irrelevant.

Let us know when you have anything to say about Indians participating in "beauty" pageants vs. other kinds of pageants, okay?