Will Beauty Save the World? A historical context study of the Miss Venezuela pageant as a conceivable contributor to communication for development.
Abstract: In recent years, old-hand development scholars, in the category of Dan Brockington, have expressed their concern over academia’s neglect of the significance of celebrities in the field. As has been the case of an outturn hereof, namely beauty pageants. In the last six decades, Venezuela has positioned itself not only as one of the world's largest exporters of oil but also as one of the leading engenderers of titleholders in international pageantry. The latter, which has resulted in Venezuelans regarding the pageant as a fundamental cultural undercurrent in their collective identity, seems to be a ceaseless manifestation in spite of the country’s worrisome current socio-economic status. Rather than adopting a condescending paradigm towards the Miss Venezuela pageant, it is precisely this vertex of ambiguity that opens the avenue for an interesting development question. After all, if celebrity beauty queens from Venezuela are deemed as part of the nation’s identity, could the pageant, in the same breath, be deemed as a contributor to communication for development? While espousing historical context as an analysing method and in pursuit of David Hulme’s Celebrity-Development nexus and Elizabeth McCall’s four strands of communication for development, this paper presents a qualitative study in which hands-on experts are given a platform. The findings show the evolution of a beauty pageant from a, nearly, nationalist device into a system that is grounded in the Millennium Development Goals and that aims to forge socially responsible beauty representatives that are competent enough to herald purposeful messages.
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