Occasional Paper Series: Reframing Beauty: The Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World and the Miss Lebanon Pageant

In the spring of 2018, the Lebanese American University (LAU) was approached by the Lebanese TV station MTV with a request to train, support, and enrich women participants in the Miss Lebanese Beauty Pageant in preparation for the event in late September 2018. LAU requested guidance from the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) – and the Institute rose to the challenge. In its quest to change the ways that Miss Lebanon had been produced and filmed in recent years, MTV asked LAU – and the Institute – to conceptualize new ways of “doing” the pageant.

IWSAW was ready to have the opportunity to think through alternative challenges to standard beauty pageants: If we couldn’t stop the pageant in its entirety, could we challenge it from the inside? What, if anything, could we arm participants with as part of this challenge from the inside out?

These workshops would raise awareness among contestants about the underlying meaning of such pageants, the responsibility contestants have to serve as positive role models, and ultimately, the radical potential that these contestants have to disrupt the normative practices of such pageants from the inside out. 

Click here to read it.