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On Age and Beauty

Duration:
10 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 11 November 2011

Mary Beard takes a peek at Miss World 2011 and ponders why - unlike her days as a radical feminist teenager -the whole occasion doesn't fill her with fury.

"It all felt" - she writes - "like a scantily-clad, tabloid version of University Challenge....but with a kind of high-minded worthiness". Long gone the old beauty contest ambitions of travelling and starting a family. "These contestants talked of becoming international lawyers, museum curators, architects, diplomats".

So does this lack outrage mean she has she sold out on feminism? "That's not how it seems to me" she writes. "At 56 I count myself as strong a feminist as I was at 26". Just a bit more laid back.

"The less I see my own body as a positive asset" she says - joking about her greying hair and her thickening toe nails - "the less I have wanted to interfere with what other women choose to do with theirs".

"Times do change and some battles honestly do get won" she concludes. "I don't any longer feel that Miss Venezuela is much of an enemy".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

  • A Point of View: Age, beauty and Miss World

    A Point of View: Age, beauty and Miss World

    As the Miss World contest turns 60, writer and academic Mary Beard takes a peek at the competition and ponders why - unlike her teenage days as a radical feminist - the whole occasion doesn't fill her with fury.

    Read Mary Beard's article on BBC News website
  • The Response: Is there a problem with Miss World?

    The Response: Is there a problem with Miss World?

    Following Mary Beard's essay, in which she argued that it's hard to get angry about the Miss World competition these days, two readers give their response.

    Read more on the BBC news website

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