Accepted paper:

MissAppropriate: Queering the Queens in Colombia.


Chloe Rutter-Jensen (Universidad de los Andes)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the representation of beauty queens and beauty pageants in Colombia to denaturalize the discourses of heteronormativity and national identity that surround these events.

Paper long abstract:

This panel asks how "alternative practices of appropriation are employed in acts of cynicism, subversion or satire." The heteronormative beauty pageant body attempts to erase the difference between representing beauty and representing a model citizen. Yet, the queer body interrogates discourses both of beauty and of the model citizen or of national belonging. These are particularly vexed notions in Colombia where the average citizen does not meet the international standards of occidental beauty in size, shape, or racial formation. Furthermore, the model citizen according to the beauty pageant ignores the rural cultural base of the country and establishes a cosmopolitan city body as the ideal. This paper examines the practice of appropriating the female heterosexual beauty queen from regional and national beauty pageants and the ways in which it is expressed on the queer body in Colombia. I attempt to deconstruct the artificiality of the 'natural' woman to debate identities of gender and sexuality in the Colombian context. To study the traffic of the ideal woman produced in beauty pageants I affirm first that that female beauty queens are in fact women dressed in drag. If such is the case, then for example, the male drag queen body becomes an authentic site to study discourses of female beauty. Second, using feminist visual culture studies I examine the emergence of the queen as a cultural and visual text that circulates in an economy of national identity in which we can propose distinct ways of 'seeing' the body.

panel P14
Appropriating the (in)appropriate: rethinking pageants, contests and the anthropology of emblems