Abstract and Keywords
We analyze beauty pageants from an evolutionary perspective, with the goal of providing a unique insight into a novel cultural practice. Through a detailed review of adult and children beauty pageants, we propose that pageants elicit intrasexually competitive behaviors that would typically be seen within a mating context. In real-world settings, women’s intrasexual competition is often focused on gaining and possessing resources, typically through mate attraction and retention. While there is no mate to “win” in pageants, there is a substantial amount of status and resources to be gained by the winner. Further, the context also highlights individual differences in such mating-relevant attributes as physical attractiveness, talent, and compassion. We propose that beauty competitions feature traits that heterosexual men find attractive in a mate (e.g., indicators of youth, fertility, long-term commitment, virginity, intelligence, and creativity). Finally, we discuss future avenues of evolutionary research in the context of beauty pageants.
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