Picture from Bikinis Banned at Miss World Competition
The Miss World pageant, created in the United Kingdom in 1951 by Eric Morley, is the oldest major international beauty competition. Image ©Olga Naidenova

Bikinis Banned at Miss World Competition

Regardless of how people feel about beauty pageants, they have a way of getting attention. At the recent Miss Universe contest, Miss Canada’s national costume—complete with hockey sticks and a mini Stanley Cup—went viral with both positive and negative reaction.

However The Miss World beauty pageant recently made news when it announced it will no longer feature a swimsuit competition after 63 years of the pageant.

Julia Morely, Miss World’s chairman, told Elle magazine, “I don’t need to see women just walking up and down in bikinis. It doesn’t do anything for the woman. And it doesn’t do anything for any of us.”

“I don’t care if someone has a bottom two inches bigger than someone else’s. We are really not looking at her bottom. We are really listening to her speak.

The swimsuit portion of the show has been part of the pageant since 1951 when Sweden’s Kiki H√Ękansson was crowned the pageant’s first winner while wearing a bikini. In 2001 organizers began holding private photo shoots of the contestants in swimsuits instead of having them parade in front of an audience. The only time that portion of the show was cancelled was in 2013 when the contest was held in the Muslim-populated country of Indonesia.

Feminists have long spoken out against the contest, particularly the swimsuit portion, calling it sexist. In 1979, the pageant introduced a ‘beauty with a purpose’ round involving charity work along with the fashion round, talent round and sports round. But pageant protestors have still complained about the competition.

In an article in The Telegraph, Emily Sawyer, of the London Feminist Network, said, “The whole competition is sexist—swimsuits or no swimsuits. Women can be objectified whether they’re in swimsuits or dresses.”

At the Miss Universe pageant only a portion of the women parade on stage during the competition.

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