The Intersectionality of Commodification and Empowerment in the Encoding of Media Text: A Beauty Queen's Autoethnography

Fernandez, J. (2019). The Intersectionality of Commodification and Empowerment in the Encoding of Media Text: A Beauty Queen’s Autoethnography. Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis, University of the Philippines Diliman: College of Mass Communication

Beauty pageants in the Philippines have become a huge part of our culture and a crucial aspect in shaping our national psyche and grand narrative, apparent by the expressive support of Filipinos. The process of media production of beauty pageants involves encoding meanings and messages through the encoder, that is the beauty contestants and winners. This study is an autoethnography of a beauty queen, who as an encoder have meaning-structures that includes personal ideological stand before joining and while in the process of encoding the text during the beauty pageant.

Through this study, I attempted to resolve my cognitive dissonance from experiencing two conflicting ideologies that I had: commodification and empowerment in the beauty pageant. Beauty pageants are businesses that commodifies women and their looks to sustain the cost of production with net income as profit for the owners. On the other hand, the reinforcement for and highlighting of a cause for women makes beauty pageants an empowering process and the concrete accomplishments like livelihood projects and other implemented socially-relevant projects by the beauty queen makes pageants an empowering outcome. Feminism in beauty pageants resonates from promoting positive stereotypes of strong confident women. Conceptually, commodification is justifiable and non-justifiable. Commodification in beauty pageants that is justified can be empowering.

Keywords: Encoding, Commodification, Empowerment, Beauty Pageants

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