Ooh la la! Oh, baby! Long, lovely, lashes, batting coyly, pouty lips, and big, firm humps seductively protruding from perfectly proportioned torsos.
And those are just the camels.
Well, they would have to be because this is Saudi Arabia, where the womenfolk are covered head to toe, but some 30,000 camels have gathered for the second annual King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, the largest such pageant in the region. Camels are an important cultural symbol in The Kingdom, which is currently celebrating the month-long festival that features racing, an obedience competition, and yes, a beauty pageant. The event is held in Al Dhana, near Riyadh. According to The National, a United Arab Emirates newspaper, prize money totals $57 million, with nearly $32 million of that reserved for “pageantry.”
But all is not glamor and goodwill. Tragically, chicanery and cheating have come to this year’s festival, which runs through the end of January. Saudi media have reported that twelve camels have been disqualified from the beauty contest after receiving botulinum toxin injections to enhance their drooping lips and pouty expressions. Apparently, a veterinarian was caught injecting the animals with botox, and performing cosmetic surgery to make their ears smaller.
Pageant rules state that the camels’ “beauty” must be “natural” for them to compete, but owners still try to get a leg up on the competition… so to speak… by making their entrants more alluring. A son of a leading camel breeder told The National that botox: “makes the head more inflated so when the camel comes, it’s like, ‘Oh, look at how big that head is. It has big lips, a big nose.’” The paper also noted that some cheaters even pull the lips of their camels on a daily basis to make them longer, and/or lather them with oil to make their coats appear darker.
So, we want our camel’s lips, nose, face, and head to be bigger, but its ears to be smaller? We want our camels to look like Priscilla Russo?
It’s not camels judging other camels, here. Why are people tarting up these noble ships of the desert? It’s not that lonely out there.
We here in the West can’t talk, however. Just look at our dog shows. And worse, our child beauty pageants.