Squawk like an Egyptian.
Ernest Goh
Squawk like an Egyptian.

If you think Toddlers and Tiaras is weird, replace Honey Boo-Boo with a chicken and things get even stranger.

Photographer Ernest Goh was in Malaysia for a project when he heard about Ayam Seramas, ornamental chickens bred solely for aesthetics. In Malaysia, the birds are shown off at chicken beauty pageants roughly once a week, Goh says. (Sounds like a blend of cockfight and cat show.) His strange, vibrant photos from the pageants became a book – called Cocks, of course.

chicken-beauty-pageant
Ernest Goh

Chicken pageant judges look for feather coloration, combs, and how well the chickens strut, he says. And how! Check out some major model attitude at 2:14:

Goh says in the video that the project illuminated how we anthropomorphize chickens. “I found that, although I’m photographing animals, I’m actually telling stories of us humans,” he says. It makes sense: Chickens and other show animals almost serve as surrogates for their human owners, groomed to be beautiful, majestic, and strong.

chicken-portrait-ernest-goh
Ernest Goh

It doesn’t sound like the birds are eaten once past their prime, although I’m not sure that would be a worse fate than Botox and Celebrity Rehab. Someone make a Best In Show­-type mockumentary about chicken beauty pageants! Please?!

For more chicken action, check out Goh’s prints or find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.