It might seem like a useless endeavor to compare beauty pageants (it seems equivalent to comparing two evils of the same brand), but I couldn’t help thinking that Greece’s longest running beauty pageant – Star Hellas – is somehow more abrasive and disturbing to watch than the Miss USA pageant. I did a quick comparison between the 2010 Miss USA interview round and the Star Hellas interview round and here are just a few differences I noticed:
1. In what seems like a particularly objectifying setup, the Star Hellas contestants have to answer the judges on stage while wearing the same purple bikini from the Swimsuit round, whereas the Miss USA contestants answer questions in their evening gowns.
2. The Star Hellas contestants are asked inane, personality-oriented questions like, “What could a friend do to make you cut ties with them permanently?” while the Miss USA contestants get asked questions like, “Should the state or the Federal government mandate whether police officers are allowed to check the immigration status of any citizen they want?” The difference in questions could be because Greek culture values personality over intellect in general, but I suspect not. Only the girl who eventually won Star Hellas (who, coincidentally, I had a Greek class with in middle school) gets asked a reasonable question about the strong and weak points of Greek media.
3. While the Miss USA round is presented by a man and a woman, the bleach blond hostess of Star Hellas wears a massive, silver gown with a plunging V-neck in what ambiguously seems like her trying to compete, or at least, take as much of the spotlight as she can. “Bravo my doll,” the hostess says to one girl in the beginning of the video as she finishes her answer. Really the hostess embodies the whole Star Hellas endeavor, which is to congratulate women for being demure, people-pleasing, and embodying society’s perception of beauty.
Not that any beauty pageant ever had a good or healthy message, but Star Hellas is particularly obvious and insistent. Then again, I suppose the real message of Star Hellas is not so much on how to be feminine, but that the best possible outcome is to be a star – hence the name.