By Olivia Chiu
Every year, nearly a thousand young women congregate at the Tournament House in Pasadena in hopes of serving on the Tournament of Roses Royal Court. The highly selective four-round process claims to honor women with poise, personality, public speaking ability, and scholastic achievement. Unfortunately, the execution of the program does not reflect its mission statement.
Candidates are allowed a mere 15 seconds to state the number they have been assigned and their reasons for auditioning in the preliminary round. While this may reflect one’s poise and public speaking abilities, personality and scholastic achievement are certainly not factors in this part of the selection process. Since little more than appearance can be noted in such a brief amount of time, it is apparent that “poise and public speaking” are pretenses for beauty. This emphasis on beauty standards is reflected in the final Court of Seven. Women of varied ethnicities have been selected throughout the years, but nearly every princess is tall, slender, clear-skinned, and glasses-free, conforming to the eurocentric mold of beauty.
The Court seeks to recognize young women with the four aforementioned qualities. However, criteria for participation excludes married women and mothers in the given age range of 17 to 21. Barring these two demographics from auditioning perpetuates the assumption that their social standing automatically disqualifies them from having the characteristics worthy of Rose Court.
Although the Rose Court was created to celebrate young women’s accomplishments in multiple fields, its first round is designed to reward appearance and first impressions rather than the well-roundedness of contestants. It discriminates against young mothers and wives, who should be recognized as potential candidates. Overall, the Court states its desire to commemorate young women and their achievements, but accomplishes little more than the preservation of outdated beauty ideals.