Back to top

Beauty queens lost

Cover of Beauty Queens
A review of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Really smart, funny, feminist, anti-capitalist satire about what it's like to be a teen girl (and not necessarily just a cis/straight/able-bodied and/or white teen girl).

A group of beauty pageant contestants crash land on an island in the middle of the ocean, and what follows is both hilarious and full of biting social commentary. I like that the setting, far away from America and its social systems, both reinforces how deep-seated the effects of media representation and social pressures are for girls and also gives them a space to deconstruct those pressures. This story (about a beauty pageant, no less!) rejects unhealthy competition and promotes friendship, collaboration, and support between girls who all have different skills and strengths. And it portrays the kind of feminism that allows for so many different expressions and choices; it doesn't just create another rigid set of rules for girls to follow. Not to mention all of this is conveyed in a format and style -- with beauty contestant bios and commercial interludes from the ominous unnamed "Corporation" sponsoring the pageant-- that's really funny and engaging.

I definitely recommend this for teenage girls, but honestly I think people of any age and gender would enjoy it!

July 3, 2018