Beauty pageant

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"Beauty contest" and "Beauty queen" redirect here. For other uses, see Beauty contest (disambiguation) and Beauty queen (disambiguation).

A beauty pageant or beauty contest is a competition that has traditionally focused on judging and ranking the physical attributes of the contestants, although some contests have evolved to also incorporate personality traits, intelligence, talent, and answers to judges' questions as judged criteria. The term almost invariably refers only to contests for unmarried women such as the Big Four international beauty pageants;[1][2][3] with similar events for men or boys being called by other names and are more likely to be bodybuilding contests.

The organisers of each pageant may determine the rules of the competition, including the age range of contestants. The rules may also require the contestants to be unmarried, and be "virtuous", "amateur", and available for promotions, besides other criteria. It may also set the clothing standards in which contestants will be judged, including the type of swimsuit.

Beauty pageants are generally multi-tiered, with local competitions feeding into the larger competitions. For example, the international pageants have hundreds or thousands of local competitions. In the United States, there is now a commercial beauty pageant industry that organizes thousands of local and regional events for all ages. A winner of a beauty contest is often called a beauty queen. Child beauty pageants mainly focus on beauty, gowns, sportswear modelling, talent, and personal interviews. Adult and teen pageants focus on makeup, hair and gowns, swimsuit modelling, and personal interviews.

Possible awards include titles, tiaras or crowns, sashes, savings bonds, scholarships, and cash prizes. However, adult and teen pageants have been moving more towards judging speaking, and many no longer contain swimsuit or talent sections. Some pageants award college scholarships, to the winner or multiple runners-up.[4]

History[edit]

Georgiana Seymour, Duchess of Somerset was crowned the 'Queen of Beauty' at the Eglinton Tournament of 1839, the first known beauty pageant.
Bathing beauty contest, USA, 1920
Lone Star State Selects Beauties for 100 Year Pageant[5]

European festivals dating to the medieval era provide the most direct lineage for beauty pageants. For example, English May Day celebrations always involved the selection of a May Queen. In the United States, the May Day tradition of selecting a woman to serve as a symbol of bounty and community ideals continued, as young beautiful women participated in public celebrations.[6]

A beauty pageant was held during the Eglinton Tournament of 1839, organised by Archibald Montgomerie, 13th Earl of Eglinton, as part of a re-enactment of a medieval joust that was held in Scotland. The pageant was won by Georgiana Seymour, Duchess of Somerset, the wife of Edward Seymour, 12th Duke of Somerset, and sister of Caroline Norton, and she was proclaimed as the "Queen of Beauty".

Entrepreneur Phineas Taylor Barnum staged the first modern American pageant in 1854, but his beauty contest was closed down after public protest.[7][8]

Beauty contests became more popular in the 1880s. In 1888, the title of 'beauty queen' was awarded to an 18-year-old Creole contestant at a pageant in Spa, Belgium. All participants had to supply a photograph and a short description of themselves to be eligible to enter and a final selection of 21 was judged by a formal panel.[9] Such events were not regarded as respectable. Beauty contests came to be considered more respectable with the first modern "Miss America" contest held in 1921.

Miss America pageant[edit]

The oldest pageant still in operation today is the Miss America pageant, which was organised in 1921 by a local businessman as a means to entice tourists to Atlantic City, New Jersey.[10] The pageant hosted the winners of local newspaper beauty contests in the "Inter-City Beauty" Contest, which was attended by over one hundred thousand people. Sixteen-year-old Margaret Gorman of Washington, D.C. was crowned Miss America 1921, having won both the popularity and beauty contests, and was awarded $100.[11]

International pageants[edit]

In May 1920, promoter C.E. Barfield of Galveston, Texas organized a new event known as "Splash Day" on the island. The event featured a "Bathing Girl Revue" competition as the centerpiece of its attractions.[12][13][14][15] The event was the kick-off of the summer tourist season in the city and was carried forward annually. The event quickly became known outside of Texas and, beginning in 1926, the world's first international contest was added, known as the International Pageant of Pulchritude.[14] This contest is said to have served as a model for modern pageants.[15][16][17] It featured contestants from England, Russia, Turkey, and many other nations and the title awarded at the time was known as "Miss Universe."[15][18] The event was discontinued in the United States in 1932 because of the Depression (the international competition was revived briefly in Belgium).

After World War II[edit]

Beauty contest in Montreal, 1948

The popularity of the Miss America pageant prompted other organizations to establish similar contests in the 1950s and beyond. Some were significant while others were trivial, such as the National Donut Queen contest. The Miss World contest started in 1951, Miss Universe started in 1952 as did Miss USA. Miss International started in 1960. The Miss Black America contest started in 1968[19] in response to the exclusion of African American women from the Miss America pageant. The Miss Universe Organization started the Miss Teen USA in 1983 for the 14-19 age group, and Miss Earth started in 2001. These contests continue to this day.

The requirement for contestants to wear a swimsuit was a controversial aspect of the various competitions. The controversy was heightened with the increasing popularity of the bikini after its introduction in 1946. The bikini was banned for the Miss America contest in 1947 because of Roman Catholic protesters.[20] When the Miss World contest started in 1951, there was an outcry when the winner was crowned in a bikini. Pope Pius XII condemned the crowning as sinful,[21][22] and countries with religious traditions threatened to withdraw delegates.[23] The bikini was banned for future and other contests. It was not until the late 1990s that they became permitted again,[10] but still generated controversy when finals were held in countries where bikinis (or swimsuits in general) were socially disapproved.[10][24] For example, in 2003, Vida Samadzai from Afghanistan caused an uproar in her native country when she participated in the Miss Earth contest in a bikini.[10] In 2013, the swimsuit round of the Miss World contest was dropped because of Islamist protests in Bali, Indonesia, where the contest took place.[24] In 2014, the Miss World contest eliminated the swimsuit competition from its pageant.[25]

Criticism[edit]

The panel of judges for the 1973 Miss Amsterdam pageant

Critics of beauty pageants argue that such contests reinforce the idea that girls and women should be valued primarily for their physical appearance, and that this puts tremendous pressure on women to conform to conventional beauty standards by spending time and money on fashion, cosmetics, hair styling, and even cosmetic surgery. They claim that this pursuit of physical beauty even encourages some women to go on a diet to the point of harming themselves.[26][27][28]

It is argued that rather than being empowering, beauty pageants do exactly the opposite because they deny the full humanity of women by placing them as the subject of objectification; they reinforce the idea that a woman's only purpose is to look attractive.[29]

Another criticism that is placed on beauty pageants is in the way beauty is quantifiably scored as highlighted by the "Myth of the Perfect 10".[30] Beauty becomes a numerical coefficient in ranking contestants, and this type of scoring still remains followed as a system even in nationwide beauty pageants such as Miss America.[31]

Major beauty pageants[edit]

Major international contests for women include the yearly Miss World competition (founded by Eric Morley in 1951), Miss Universe (founded in 1952), Miss International (founded in 1960), and Miss Earth (founded in 2001 with environmental awareness as its concern).[32][33][34] These are considered the Big Four pageants, the four largest and most famous international beauty contests for single or unmarried women.[35][36]

Founded Pageant Organizer Location Bikini allowed Bikini regulation
1921 Miss America Miss America Organization[10] Atlantic City, New Jersey 1997 1947: Bikinis were outlawed because of Roman Catholic protesters.[20]
1997: Contestants allowed to wear bikinis.[10]
1951 Miss World Eric Morley,
Miss World Organization
London, England 1951 1951: The first winner Kiki Håkansson from Sweden was crowned in a bikini. Countries with religious traditions threatened to withdraw delegates,[23] and Pope Pius XII condemned the crowing as sinful.[21][22]
1952: Swimsuits toned down to more modest designs.[10]
1996: Miss World contest was held in Bangalore, India, but the swimsuit round was shifted to Seychelles because of intense protests.[37]
2013: The swimsuit round was dropped because of Islamist protests in Bali, Indonesia, where the contest took place.[24]
1952 Miss Universe William Morris Endeavor New York City 1997 1952: Bikinis banned.
1997: Contestants allowed to wear bikinis.[10]
1952 Miss USA William Morris Endeavor New York City 1997 1952: Bikinis banned.
1997: Contestants allowed to wear bikinis.[10]
2000: Tankinis were provided as an option for the first (and only) time.[10]
1960 Miss International International Cultural Association Tokyo, Japan 1960 1964: Bikinis made mandatory
1983 Miss Teen USA Gulf+Western Palm Springs, California 1997 1983: Bikinis banned.
1997: Contestants allowed to wear bikinis.[10]
2000: Tankinis were provided as an option for the first (and only) time.[10]
2001 Miss Earth Carousel Productions Quezon City, Philippines 2003 2003: Vida Samadzai from Afghanistan participating in a bikini caused an uproar in her native country.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ News, Reuters (2004-10-25). "Miss Earth 2004 beauty pageant". China Daily. Retrieved 2007-10-23. 
  2. ^ "Brazil’s Miss World finalist has her hands and feet amputated". English.pravda.ru. 22 January 2009. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Enriquez, Amee (2 February 2014). "Philippines: How to make a beauty queen". BBC News. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Miss Teenage California scholarship awards, from the pageant website
  5. ^ Universal Newsreel (1935). "Lone Star State Selects Beauties for 100 Year Pageant". Texas Archive of the Moving Image. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  6. ^ "Miss America: People & Events: Origins of the Beauty Pageant". Pbs.org. Retrieved May 2014. 
  7. ^ Colin Blakemore and Sheila Jennett, ed. (2006). The Oxford companion to the body (1. publ. ed.). Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 0-19-852403-X. 
  8. ^ "It's Not a Beauty Pageant. It's a Scholarship Competition!". The LOC.GOV Wise Guide. Library of Congress. August 2008. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  9. ^ "Beauty Pageants History: The Beginning and Beyond". Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "History". Pageant Almanac. Pageant Almanac. Archived from the original on 12 December 2008. Retrieved November 6, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Miss America". In Encyclopedia of New Jersey. 2004. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  12. ^ Stein, Elissa (2006). Beauty Queen: Here She Comes... Chronicle Books. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-8118-4864-0. 
    "Revues and other Vanities: The Commodification of Fantasy in the 1920s". Assumption College. Retrieved 2 October 2009. 
  13. ^ "The Sloane Collection, no. 4 – Galveston Bathing Girl Revue, 1925". Story Sloane, III Collection. Texas Archive of the Moving Image. 1925. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  14. ^ a b "Miss United States Began In Galveston". The Islander Magazine. 2006. 
  15. ^ a b c Cherry, Bill (25 October 2004). "Miss America was once Pageant of Pulchritude". Galveston Daily News. 
  16. ^ Brown, Bridget (17 May 2009). "Isle bathing beauty tradition reborn". Galveston Daily News. 
  17. ^ Savage, Candace (1998). Beauty queens: a playful history. Abbeville. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-55054-618-7. 
  18. ^ "The Billboard". 25 September 1948: 49. 
  19. ^ "The Ritz-Carlton Hotel - Atlantic City" (PDF). Historical Timeline. Retrieved June 25, 2011. 
  20. ^ a b "We're all intellectuals". The Daily Telegraph (London: Telegraph Media Group Limited). November 6, 2008. 
  21. ^ a b Various, Selvedge: The Fabric of Your Life, page 39, Selvedge Ltd., 2005
  22. ^ a b Maass, Harold (June 7, 2013). "The controversial bikini ban at the Miss World beauty pageant". Retrieved August 22, 2013. 
  23. ^ a b Han Shin, Beauty with a Purpose, page 193, iUniverse, 2004, ISBN 0-595-30926-7
  24. ^ a b c Nidhi Tewari, "Miss Universe 2013: Winning Beauty To Wear Million Dollar Diamond-Studded Swimsuit", International Business Times, November 5, 2013
  25. ^ Lange, Maggie (18 December 2014). "Miss World Pageant Axes Swimsuit Portion". New York Magazine. Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  26. ^ "Beauty and body image in the media". Media Awareness Network. Archived from the original on 18 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  27. ^ "Reigning Miss Universe Suspected of Having Cosmetic Surgery". Archived from the original on 26 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  28. ^ "Plastic Surgery: Bollywood, Miss Universe, and the Indian Girl Next Door" (PDF). Gujarati Magazine (Sandesh). Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  29. ^ "Why OBJECT to Beauty Pageants?". object.org.uk. Retrieved May 2014. 
  30. ^ Riverol, A.R. (1983). "Myth, America and Other Misses: A Second Look at the American Beauty Contests.". ETC: A Review of General Semantics. 
  31. ^ "Miss America : National Judging Process". www.missamerica.org. Retrieved 2015-12-13. 
  32. ^ News, EFE (28 November 2009). "Mexicana Anagabriela Espinoza gana concurso de belleza en China". Terra Networks (Mexico)/EFE. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  33. ^ Sibbett, Rebecca (15 February 2008). "Edinburgh students launch beauty pageant". The Edinburgh Journal. Retrieved 8 March 2012. 
  34. ^ Fischer, Bernd (20 August 2012). "Beauty pageants: the bad and the beautiful". Perdeby. Retrieved 26 December 2012. 
  35. ^ "Beauty with scandals". The Standard. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  36. ^ "24-year-old former Tian Zhizi elected as "Miss Japan 2011"". Business Times. 4 July 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  37. ^ "Miss Greece now Miss World, despite pageant protests". CNN. November 23, 1996. Archived from the original on December 17, 2003. 

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