Beauty pageant

A beauty pageant or beauty contest is a competition that has traditionally focused on judging and ranking the physical attributes of the contestants, although most contests have evolved to also incorporate personality traits, intelligence, talent, and answers to judges' questions as judged criteria. The term refers largely to contests for women such as the Big Four international beauty pageants.

The organizers 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. 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. A winner of a beauty contest is often called a beauty queen. The rankings of the contestants are referred to as placements.

Possible awards of beauty contests include titles, tiaras or crowns, sashes, scepters, savings bonds, scholarships, and cash prizes. However, adult and teen pageants have been moving more towards judging speaking. Some pageants award college scholarships, to the winner or multiple runners-up.[1]


Early years

Jane Georgina, Lady Seymour, Eglinton Tournament.
Georgiana Seymour, Duchess of Somerset was crowned the 'Queen of Beauty' at the Eglinton Tournament of 1839, the first known beauty pageant
Beauty show, 1922, (8-5-22) LOC npcc.06819 (cropped)
Woman receiving an award for winning a beauty pageant, 1922
Lone Star State Selects Beauties for 100 Year Pageant[2]

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.[3]

A beauty pageant was held during the Eglinton Tournament of 1839, organized 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".[4]

Entrepreneur Phineas Taylor Barnum staged the first modern American pageant in 1854, but his beauty contest was closed down after public protest.[5][6]

National pageants

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.[7] 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.[8]

The oldest pageant still in operation today is the Miss America pageant, which was organized in 1921 by a local businessman as a means to entice tourists to Atlantic City, New Jersey.[9] 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.[10]

International pageants

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.[11][12][13][14] 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.[13] This contest is said to have served as a model for modern pageants.[14][15][16] It featured contestants from England, Russia, Turkey, and many other nations and the title awarded at the time was known as "Miss Universe".[14][17] 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

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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. Miss Asia Pacific International started in 1968. The Miss Black America contest started in 1968[18] 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. Miss Earth started in 2001, which channels the beauty pageant entertainment industry as an effective tool to actively promote the preservation of the environment.[19][20] These contests continue to this day.

Swimsuit competition

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.[21] 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,[22][23] and countries with religious traditions threatened to withdraw delegates.[24] The bikini was banned for future and other contests. It was not until the late 1990s that they became permitted again,[9] but still generated controversy when finals were held in countries where bikinis (or swimsuits in general) were socially disapproved.[9][25] 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.[9] In 2013, the swimsuit round of the Miss World contest was dropped because of Islamist protests in Bali (Indonesia), where the contest took place.[25] In 2014, the Miss World contest eliminated the swimsuit competition from its pageant.[26]

In 2017, Carousel Productions was criticized of objectifying women during the Miss Earth 2017 competition. For the first time in the history of international pageants, delegates wore swimsuits during the event with their faces concealed by a veil in the Beauty of Figure and Form, a segment first introduced in the Miss Philippines Earth 2017 pageant.[27][28][29][30] It was one of the three preliminary judging segments of the pageant that include Poise and Beauty of Face and Environmental and Intelligence Competition.[31][27] The organizers defended the "beauty of figure and form" segment and released a statement that the said round was intended to promote strict impartiality during pre-judging by focusing on the contestants' curves, execution and not beautiful face.[32][28]

Major beauty pageants

The term "beauty pageant" refers largely to contests for women.[33][34][35] 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).[36][37][38] These are considered the Big Four pageants, the four largest and most famous international beauty contests for single or unmarried women.[39][40]

Founded Pageant Organizer Location Bikini allowed Bikini regulation
1921 Miss America Miss America Organization[9] Atlantic City, New Jersey 1997 1947: Bikinis were outlawed because of Roman Catholic protesters.[21]
1997: Contestants allowed to wear bikinis.[9]
2018: Swimsuit segment of the pageant was dropped.[41]
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,[24] and Pope Pius XII condemned the crowning as sinful.[22][23]
1952: Swimsuits toned down to more modest designs.[9]
1996: Miss World contest was held in Bangalore, India, but the swimsuit round was shifted to Seychelles because of intense protests.[42]
2013: The swimsuit round was dropped because of Islamist protests in Bali, Indonesia, where the contest took place.[25]
2015: The Beach Fashion segment of the pageant was dropped.[43]
1952 Miss Universe William Morris Endeavor New York City 1997 1952: Bikinis banned.
1997: Contestants allowed to wear bikinis.[9]
1960 Miss International International Cultural Association Tokyo, Japan 1960 1964: Bikinis made mandatory
1983 Miss Teen USA William Morris Endeavor New York City Not allowed 1983: Bikinis banned.
1997: Contestants allowed to wear bikinis.[9]
2000: Tankinis were provided as an option for the first (and only) time.[9]
2016: Bikini competition was removed and replaced with athletic wear[44]
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.[9]
2017: The "Beauty of Form and Figure" preliminary judging in Miss Earth 2017 was introduced where the delegates walked in white two-piece bikinis but their faces were covered by a white veil to focus the judgment on the body figures on this portion.[45][46]


Besides the international beauty pageants, numerous minor competitions exist throughout the world displaying the different perceptions of beauty. Some examples of criteria to select beauty queens that are unique to certain cultures include the Indian history and traditional craft skills in the Miss Indian American pageant,[47] Indian dress section in the Miss India USA pageant[48] and the principles of "black beauty" that became accepted in the Miss Howard University competition.[49] The winner is often viewed as a model for the "ideal" community member.[50] Through the competitions, the contestants can learn how to present themselves in public and how to cultivate certain traits such as confidence or poise.[51] In some cases, the competitors are selected to act as a representative on behalf of the community. In the African American community of Howard University, the selected Miss Howard University served as advocates for the Civil Rights Movement in the decades following the 1960s.[49] Additionally, the Miss Landmine competition situated in Angola allow victims to serve as advocates on behalf of other victims of mining accidents.[52]

Researchers suggest that the emergence of beauty pageants in countries outside the United States is linked to an economic boom geared towards a more consumeristic lifestyle. For example, in India, from 1996 to 2000, the personal care industry grew by 25% while the number of women applying for the Miss India competition increased from 1000 people in 1993 to 6500 people in 2001.[53] Additionally, after China hosted about 6 international beauty pageants in 2004, the beauty industry increased in influence in the area. At the same time, the number of regional beauty pageants in the country increased.[54]


Miss Amsterdam jury 1973
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 say that this pursuit of physical beauty even encourages some women to go on a diet to the point of harming themselves.[55][56][57]

The London Feminist Network argues 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.[58]

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".[59] 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.[60]

Researchers suggest that these events strengthen skills, such as interpersonal communications, self-assurance, and public speaking, which prove to be useful in future career paths.[61]


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Alfina Nassyrova

Alfina Nassyrova (Kazakhstani Russian: Альфина Насырова; born 11 June 1988) is a Kazakh model who won the national pageant Miss Kazakhstan in 2007 held at the Abai State Kazakh National Opera & Ballet Theatre in Almaty. She went on to represent Kazakhstan in Miss Universe 2008 in Nha Trang, Vietnam, on 14 July 2008, and Miss World 2008 in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 13 December 2008. She was not placed in Miss Universe, but she was among the Top 15 in Miss World.She studied textile and manufacturing at the Almaty Technological University.

Alizée Poulicek

Alizée Poulicek (born 26 June 1987) is a Belgian model and beauty pageant titleholder who won the title of Miss Belgium 2008 and represented her country in Miss Universe 2008 in Nha Trang, Vietnam. She went unplaced at the latter pageant. She also represented Belgium in Miss World 2008 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

She can speak French, English, and Czech. At the time of her election she could not speak Dutch (although she did receive Dutch lessons in school, according to Poulicek "of ridiculous low quality"); which led to controversy in Flanders.

Allie LaForce

Alexandra Leigh LaForce (born December 11, 1988) is an American journalist, model, and beauty pageant titleholder. She currently is a reporter for Turner Sports, covering the NBA on TNT. She was previously the lead reporter for SEC college football games, a court side reporter for college basketball games as well as host of We Need to Talk on the CBS Sports Network. LaForce also worked as a broadcast sports anchor and reporter for the Cleveland, Ohio, FOX affiliate WJW. She won a 2011 Emmy award for anchoring FOX 8's Friday Night Touchdown high school football show. She was Miss Teen USA in 2005, and she played college basketball at Ohio University.

Alyssa Campanella

Alyssa Marie Campanella (born March 21, 1990) is an American model and beauty pageant titleholder who won Miss USA 2011 pageant.

She was named the first runner-up in the 2007 Miss Teen USA pageant while representing New Jersey and represented California in the 2011 Miss USA pageant. As the reigning Miss USA, she represented the United States in the Miss Universe 2011 pageant held in São Paulo, Brazil, on September 12, 2011, where she finished in the top 16.

She is currently a style and travel blogger.

Ariadna Gutiérrez

Ariadna María Gutiérrez Arévalo (born December 25, 1993) is a Colombian actress, model, and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss Colombia 2014. Gutiérrez placed as the first runner-up in Miss Universe 2015, where she was mistakenly announced as the winner by host Steve Harvey. After pageantry, she starred in the film XXX: Return of Xander Cage and was a finalist on Celebrity Big Brother 1.

Athina James

Athina James is a beauty pageant contestant who represented Antigua and Barbuda in Miss Universe 2008 in Vietnam, and Miss World 2008 in South Africa.

Beauty Pageant (Parks and Recreation)

"Beauty Pageant" is the third episode of the second season of the American comedy television series Parks and Recreation, and the ninth overall episode of the series. It originally aired on NBC in the United States on October 1, 2009. In the episode, Leslie serves as a judge in the Miss Pawnee beauty pageant and becomes determined to prevent an attractive, but talentless and unintelligent, contestant from winning.

The episode was written by Katie Dippold and directed by Jason Woliner. It featured stand-up comedian Louis C.K. in his second guest appearance as Dave Sanderson, a Pawnee police officer who develops a romantic interest in Leslie. According to Nielsen Media Research, the episode was seen by 4.63 million households, a slight improvement over the previous week. "Beauty Pageant" received generally positive reviews, with several commentators claiming the season continued a trend of funnier episodes than in the first season.

It is the only episode of the series in which Nick Offerman does not appear as Ron Swanson.

Cassandra Jean

Cassandra Jean Whitehead (born October 5, 1985), also known as Cassandra Jean and Cassandra Jean Amell, is an American actress, model, and beauty pageant queen from Houston, Texas. Jean attended Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi.

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters (born 28 June 1995) is a South African model and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss Universe 2017. She was crowned Miss South Africa 2017, and is the second Miss Universe winner from South Africa, following Margaret Gardiner who was crowned Miss Universe 1978.

Erin Brady

Erin Joyce Brady (born November 5, 1987) is an American television host, model and beauty pageant titleholder who won Miss USA 2013. She then represented the USA at Miss Universe 2013 in Moscow, Russia, on November 9, where she placed in the Top 10. Brady is the first woman from the state of Connecticut ever to be crowned Miss USA.

Gabriela Rejala

Gabriela Rejala is a beauty pageant contestant who represented Paraguay in Miss World 2008 in South Africa. She also represented Paraguay in Reina Hispanoamericana 2008 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on October 30, 2008, and placed as second runner-up. She was Top 16 semifinalist on Miss Earth 2009.

Laura Rutledge

Laura Rutledge (née McKeeman; born October 2, 1988) is a reporter and host for CNN International, ESPN, and the SEC Network. She is an American beauty pageant titleholder from St. Petersburg, Florida, who was named Miss Florida 2012.

Marla Maples

Marla Ann Maples (born October 27, 1963) is an American actress and television personality. Maples was the second wife of Donald Trump, later the 45th president of the United States. They married in 1993 and divorced in 1999.

Martha Fenech

Martha Fenech (born September 13, 1990) is a Maltese model and beauty pageant titleholder who represented Malta in Miss World 2008 in South Africa. she also won Miss Universe Malta 2016 and represented Malta at Miss Universe 2016 in the Philippines.

Miss International

Miss International (Miss International Beauty or The International Beauty Pageant) is a Tokyo-based international beauty pageant organized by The International Culture Association. The pageant was first held in 1960. Miss International is the fourth largest pageant in the world in terms of having crowned national winners to participate in the international contest.Along with Miss World, Miss Universe, and Miss Earth, this pageant is one of the Big Four international beauty pageants. The Miss International Organization and the brand are currently owned, along with Miss International Japan, by ICA (International Cultural Association) and Miss Paris Group.The current Miss International is Mariem Velazco of Venezuela who was crowned on 9 November 2018 in Tokyo, Japan.

Miss Universe

Miss Universe is an annual international beauty pageant that is run by the American-based Miss Universe Organization. It airs in more than 190 countries worldwide and seen by more than half a billion people annually. Along with Miss World, Miss International, and Miss Earth, Miss Universe is one of the Big Four international beauty pageants.The Miss Universe Organization and its brand, along with Miss USA and Miss Teen USA, are currently owned by the WME/IMG talent agency.The current Miss Universe is Catriona Gray of the Philippines, who was crowned on 17 December 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Miss World 2000

Miss World 2000, the 50th edition of the Miss World pageant, was held on 30 November 2000 at the Millennium Dome in London, United Kingdom. The pageant's swimsuit segment was filmed in the Maldives.

The pageant was the first since the death of pageant owner Eric Morley, whose widow Julia Morley assumed responsibility for the event. The pageant had 95 contestants, the highest number of Miss World participants ever. This was surpassed in 2003.

The pageant was won by Priyanka Chopra of India, at the age of 18. She was crowned by her predecessor Yukta Mookhey also from India. She is the fifth Miss World and the second consecutive winner from her country. Internationally, Chopra reigned alongside Miss Universe 2000 titleholder Lara Dutta and Miss Asia Pacific 2000 titleholder Dia Mirza, both also of India.

Sushmita Sen

Sushmita Sen (born 19 November 1975) is an Indian film actress and model who was crowned Femina Miss India Universe in 1994 and she later won the Miss Universe 1994 contest at the age of 18. Sen is the first Indian woman to win the competition. Primarily known for her work in Hindi films, she has also appeared in Tamil and Bengali language films. She has won several accolades including a Filmfare Award.

After completing her reign as Miss Universe, Sen began receiving various offers to act in movies. She made her acting debut with the Hindi film Dastak in 1996. The Tamil musical Ratchagan (1997) was her first commercial success. She rose to prominence by featuring as the female lead in several top-grossing films including Sirf Tum (1999), Hindustan Ki Kasam (1999), Biwi No.1 (1999), Aankhen (2002), Main Hoon Na (2004) – her biggest commercial success so far, and Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya? (2005), and received critical recognition with female-oriented roles in films such as Filhaal... (2002), Samay: When Time Strikes (2003), Chingaari (2005) and Zindaggi Rocks (2006).

In addition to acting in films, Sen has been an active stage performer and has stood up for social causes and was honoured at the Mother Teresa Awards 2013 for her social works. At the Indian Leadership Conclave 2016, she was awarded with the "Eternal Beauty & Actress of the Decade'" award for her contribution in the field of Arts. She has also judged the Miss Universe 2016 beauty pageant. Sen is a single mother of two daughters.

Urvashi Rautela

Urvashi Rautela (born 25 February 1994) is an Indian film actress and model who appears in Bollywood films. Rautela was crowned

Miss Diva - 2015 and represented India at the Miss Universe 2015 pageant.She made her Bollywood debut with Singh Saab the Great (2013) and appeared in films like Sanam Re (2016), Great Grand Masti (2016) and Hate Story 4 (2018).

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