Pageant scams: All that glitters is not gold

The pageant industry in Malaysia is one of the most lucrative business in recent times. Pageants catering for teens, singles, married, divorced women are the norm. The latest addition include transgenders, men and kids.

Most people who are inspired by genuine pageantry enter in the hope of finding inspiration, to aspire others and to showcase their talents and skills.

For a very long time, most businesses revolved around women insecurities. Genuine pageants will help women overcome such inhibitions. Some participate enthusiastically in order to launch themselves or sometimes to challenge themselves to come out of their comfort zones. Do all pageant organisers do justice to these goals?

Each year, hundreds of beauty pageant contests are organised worldwide. Millions of dollars are raised in the name of registration fees, sponsorship and travel arrangements.

And often, it becomes difficult to distinguish between a genuine and a fake beauty contest. The internet is awash with posts advertising beauty pageants, charity events and talent contests – aimed at attracting young participants aspiring to be models and actors.

The ever-growing number of such contests makes it difficult for the young prospective participants to ascertain the authenticity of the event, causing many to fall prey to unscrupulous organisers.

Red flags

Beauty pageants may lure your mind if you want a career as a model. Beware of fraudulent organisers by watching out for its affiliations, social media presence and do thorough referral checks.

Let’s take a look at the red flags in such existing pageants.

Is the beauty pageant constantly asking you to pay additional charges? A good sign of an authentic beauty pageant is to have no hidden charges.

Apart from the application fees, most fake beauty pageants would keep asking you to pay more by asking for additional charges like grooming fee, consultation fee, make-up charges, training charges, online voting charges and more.

A good beauty pageant would have a transparent payment process and you would not be asked for sudden and unexpected payments.

Some of these alleged ‘controversial’ beauty contests entice well-to-do women by promising them brand ambassadorship.

They would require the participants to pay certain amount to receive recognition in a glitz and glamour themed event.

There are women who will pay for recognition to upgrade their social status.

Paid awards as a form of recognition have become a norm that it is time to raise the alarm and caution women to ‘weigh’ their options and the ‘risks’ associated with the event.

One of the least regulated business here is the pageant industry. This makes it easier for some organisers, who are not qualified to coach women on their self esteem, to run it merely for money.

The moment women sign in to such scams, they are ripped off monetarily and lose their dignity leading them to have severe mental health issues. This happens in cases where the winners pay to win the pageant title and crown.

A glaring reality of the pageant can be seen when the less qualified wins and pageants are organised poorly.

Social media is a crucial aspect for any beauty pageant. Check the social media pages and see what people are saying about the pageant.

Some of the pageant organisers prepare contracts that are red flags. Participants should not sign any documents under any sort of pressure or circumstances.

At times pageant participants are given very little time to go through the contracts.

Legitimate pageants usually would provide enough time for orientation and will gradually guide the participants to make wise decisions making without any pressure.

During question and answer session in a pageant, women are always asked tough questions and what they stand for but if the pageant itself is a scam, then one should definitely stand up and do the right thing in order to safe one self and others from becoming the next victim.

Inspire inclusion, ladies

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is Inspire Inclusion. When we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world.

And when women themselves are inspired to be included, there’s a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment.

Collectively, let’s forge a more inclusive world for women. When women aren’t present, we must ask: “If not, why not?”

When women are discriminated, we must call it out.

When the treatment of women is not equitable, we must take action. And we must do this each time, every time.

With this I would like to wish all the women out there Happy International Women’s Day 2024. Stay safe.

HEMA SUBRAMANIAM is a columnist of Harapan Daily.