What purpose do beauty pageants serve?

Beauty pageants help build the case for those who would argue that such contests demean women, and the latest gaffe in the Miss Universe pageant - where the wrong winner was initially announced - proves that ("Joy in Philippines, fury in Colombia after pageant gaffe"; Dec 23 and "Red faces at Miss Universe pageant"; Dec 22).

It must be especially hurtful when the crown is put on one woman and then taken away and placed on another in a flash, on stage, in front of a worldwide audience.

The word "humiliating" does not even begin to cover it.

Both women had their moments diminished amid the confusion, embarrassment and, finally, outrage that followed.

This was unprecedented in the annals of beauty contests. How could a monumental mistake such as this have been committed, especially with millions watching?

The moment may have attracted more attention for the event, but for all the wrong reasons.

The time has come to establish the actual motivation behind such pageants.

What purpose do they actually serve? How do they help?

It is also important to have some firm ground rules on how they are run and who runs them.

Gaffes such as announcing the wrong winner must never be repeated, not so much for the organiser's sake, but for the sake of the contestants. Why should they be put through this?

And the enmity among supporters proved that, deep down inside, it is all about winning. But what about doing so with dignity?

What makes it even worse is what occurred towards the end, when many contestants snubbed the rightful winner, Miss Philippines. How was it her fault? It left a really bad taste in the mouth.

So much for being role models.

Manoraj Rajathurai