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OpEd: In Canada, perfection is a blonde white woman. Yawn.

Perfection is not something Canadian women can strive for - unless they were born with the right colour skin.
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Karen Green, August 30, 2013 1:15:51 PM

Is there anything more subjective than the idea of a perfect woman? Ask a thousand people how they would describe the perfect woman, and you’ll get a thousand different answers. But ask the judges of Canada’s Perfect fashion competition that question, and they’ll tell you that she is a blonde white woman from a small town in northern Ontario. Perfect.

Canada’s Perfect Woman is Sherry Tremblay. Tremblay is 39 years old which makes her the competition’s oldest contestant this year (though her category accepted women up to age 65), and she admits that she is not like your usual pageant entrant. She’s not a runway model, a “size 2, size 4 girl,” though she did beat one out for the title – “Your typical stick figure, tall … and very beautiful,” according to Tremblay.

So a young, beautiful, tall model is not Canada’s perfect woman (this year). Excellent. But don’t think that Tremblay’s win is doing anything to subvert ideals of beauty or worth for Canadian women. She seems like a lovely person, but to say that a white, blonde, decidedly conventional beautiful woman from a small town is our country’s ideal woman is hardly representative of a nation where nearly 21% of the population identifies as a visible minority – a number that grows annually.

Overstating the importance of a competition like Canada’s Perfect – where the sum total of the prizes earned equal little more than a sash and an Arbonne gift certificate - does a disservice to thinking people everywhere. But culturally, it does have significance. Tremblay will now represent Canada in an international competition to determine who the world’s most perfect woman is. And despite our open borders and a population diversity that looks impressive on paper, Tremblay’s win still says that in Canada, we prefer our women blonde, white, and beautiful in that racially-pure, Anglo-Saxon way. Anything else falls short.

There’s been a lot of high-fiving Tremblay in the media for what she considers a win based on personality – again, understanding that in the pageant world, tall, skinny, beautiful and young usually trumps all – which, I suppose, on the pageant circuit makes this perfect Canadian an outlier.

But the message to Canadian girls and women is still at best tediously boring and at worst, disturbingly xenophobic: in Canada, you don’t have to be super skinny or super tall to be perfect. You don’t even have to be all that young.

But you do have to be white.

Readers, what do you think about contests like Canada’s Perfect? Let us know in the comments!

Image credit: CTV

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