“Straighten up your posture,” shouts Hector Moreno, the group's choreographer who, with during a few classes, will teach them about how to work the runway. But, for now, they struggle as they try to walk the right way, smiling without falling, all as they keep a beat. As soon as everyone is done, Hector has only one thing to say: “horrible.”
That is how things are in the world of beauty pageants, and this is only part of the many hours this group of Latinas will need to spend working hard towards one goal: to win the crown of the new Miss Nebraska Latina beauty pageant. The event will take place in the city of Omaha where a winner will be crowned on January 12.
"We have a group of professionals who will work with all contestants, and our community will notice all the hard work because we will give contestants an education they can’t get at school or home. We will set our new leaders on a path that will take them on a journey to be the spokeswoman of our great culture,” emphasized Gonzalo Ramirez, Regional Director for the pageant.
On the other hand, and contrary to the accolades and applause for this activity, there are people who are against the celebration of beauty pageants because they objectify women and promote gender-based violence. And if there is a group that has raised its voice against these events is that of feminists who have been against them for decades.
Art curator Dianne Cisneros, from the University of Lincoln in Nebraska, is one of them: “Beauty pageants are nothing more than a business, and we can’t allow women to be valued so superficially, especially in events in which they’re catalogued as ‘pretty face,’ ‘plastic,’ ‘shallow,’ ‘self-important’....”
Without a doubt, prejudice is part of the looming shadow that hangs over these events. For Gonzalo Ramirez, “this is a taboo that Miss Nebraska Latina aims to break, because, on top of being beautiful, all of our contestants are also very smart, and with our intensive work program we provide them with the tools they’ll need to not only compete for our crown but also to have the skills needed for job interviews, for growth in the workplace, and for having the drive to be more competitive.”
The question is, why bring a new beauty pageant to the city? Miss Nebraska Latina regional director Rita Rodriguez had this to say: “We decided to do this pageant in Nebraska since there isn’t a professional event in the State with an emphasis on educational topics while highlighting the beauty of the Latino women who live in his part of the United States.”