As the Miss Nepal contest draws near, opposition to it has been raised once more. This isn't new. In 1994, Ruby Rana became the first Nepali to be crowned amidst unnecessary controversy, partly orchestrated by the media. But the Kathmandu Jaycees continues to organise the contest every year.
Every competition has its limitations and Miss Nepal is no exception. Some people just can't qualify. But for any college student, five feet and above there is no problem. Look at it this way: at least someone gets to show off her talent.
The argument that beauty contests must be banned because they take women into the world of glamour is an attack on individual freedom itself. That is an individual choice and it's none of our business. Why are the protestors mainly women? Could there be an element of the stereotyped 'jealous woman' at work here? A winner is honoured, not oppressed. A Miss Nepal has a choice to appear or not appear on television.
Then there is the objection to the bikini round while representing Nepal in the internationals, but to win a title it is necessary to play by the rules. It may not be acceptable in our culture but it is in theirs, and women from a multitude of cultures will be there.
We talk about modernisation, and hope to catch up with developed countries. Is it oppression when you participate in a contest out of your own free will, or when you rally against a changing society? Does it make any sense to burn tyres or take part in a contest that brings out your talents?