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The Sept. 14 front-page Reuters/Kyodo photo titled “ANGOLAN BEAUTY” shows Leila Lopes of Angola being crowned Miss Universe 2011 in Sao Paulo. Despite their feminist detractors, beauty contests do have lasting virtues: empowering women and putting worthy role models of education and grace, principle, ambition, endurance and eloquence before our daughters for them to emulate; and then helping to focus media attention on whatever charitable work the women pursue during their tenure. It’s all good.

Miss Universe is not my ideal of feminine beauty, though. I do not revere the long legs of an American lifeguard or the carefully manicured figure of a supermodel.

My ideal woman encompasses the blackened teeth of an old Japanese matron, the bound feet of a Chinese princess and the oily hair of a Japanese one, the stretched neck of a Karen tribeswoman, the exaggerated lip plugs of an African Fali beauty, the wide, life-giving fertility goddess hips of my old Greek grandmother, and an Arab maiden accompanied by a modesty veil, all rolled into one.

Maybe I’m in a minority, but why not celebrate those aesthetics? I can’t muster much regard for beauty contests until they do.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

grant piper

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