"some freakish, garish beauty pageant" was used by a:
A. Mamapop reader to describe Toddlers in Tiaras
B. pop culture aficionado to describe Lady Gaga's music videos
C. veterinarian to describe the UK's biggest dog fancying dog show
If you guessed C, you're right! Wayne Pacelle quoted the RSPCA's Dr. Evans in his post about dog shows and the documentary showing that, in the UK at least, the pursuit of the "ideal" conformation is leading to severe inbreeding and serious diseases and disabilities for dogs.
Now, I am not opposed to responsible breeders who genuinely want to improve the genetic stock of the breed. I hope that collies are still around in 50 years and I know that likely takes work. There's a wonderful breeder I know via a book club who also rescues stray dogs and carefully controls her small breeding operation. I do think that breeding should be regulated and should have more than a physical appearance as a goal. I think that the health of the animals should be first and foremost in a breeder's plan.
When the pursuit of pet pulchritude leads to widespread genetic problems or animals who can't do normal animal things, there's something wrong.
On the opposite side are those people who care so little about how their animal looks that the animal also ends up sick. My first foster cat was never brushed and allowed to get so fat that he couldn't groom himself. As a result, poor Nik had severe painful matting on his back that had to be shaved off when he came to the shelter. A cat who doesn't groom himself, like Keen before he settled in at casa-la-Bethany, is showing signs of depression that should be addressed. Mange, fleas, matting, and more can all be results of a lack of grooming.
It doesn't surprise me that people go to both ends of the grooming spectrum with pets, we do it with ourselves. This country seems to be constantly worrying about eating disorders that range from anorexia to food addictions--sticks to stouts? Lucy March touched on the issue of women dressing in baggy gray clothes. Penelope Trunk has written multiple times about how people shoot themselves in the foot by not dressing well and taking care of their appearance (I disagree that this should include $80 eyebrow waxings, I enjoy reading her but I don't always agree with her specifics).
My response: recommitting myself to responsible grooming for my pet(s) and myself. Keen doesn't have any health issues now because he is licking himself again, but his white paws are looking a little dingy so I'll give them a gentle cleaning with some great smelling cat foam. Me, I'll break down and buy new jeans so I'll look great at my adoption event this weekend. Penelope did say that better looking sales people have higher sales so maybe this will help me get more dogs adopted ;)
Really, I'm shopping for the dogs.