Nuns have seemed like the last sacred territory for misogynists to exploit, but alas, our world is changing. News out of Rome recently was that one Father Antonio Rungi was planning to run a beauty peagant for nuns. Seeing as there has been a massive decline in practicing Catholics, he had wished to give his faith some positive press and draw attention to the different kinds of beauty in the world. As the number of nuns has declined 94 percent since the end of Vatican II (1965) it makes sense that Rome would want to attract the wayward back to the faith and fill up the emptying convents. However, responses both positive and negative once the news traveled globally forced Father Rungi’s superiors to cancel the pageant.
Was this a step forward for women gone awry? Although external beauty may have been a factor, Rungi claims he intended to show case nuns’ attributes such as their spirituality, social awareness and charity. This was definitely an expantion of the narrow roles women are given in regular beauty peagents. But still… it just seems in bad taste. Maybe I am deluded into thinking that when a nun takes her vows she renounces concerns regarding her appearance and dedicates herself to serving the Church as a Bride of Christ. Perhaps this is a wake-up call to the world that nuns themselves are feeling stifled in their roles. Or maybe we are missing the point entirely in focusing on the nuns; this may have just been a bid to draw men back into the Church with the same techniques that beer advertisers use: beautiful women.