The biggest event in beauty has had another successful year; beauty pageant Miss World has now crowned Miss South Africa as the new winner for 2014. Exactly one hundred and twenty one countries were represented this year by plenty of beautiful women but it’s worth remembering that not just looks are rewarded – awards for sportsmanship, singing ability and their charity appeals were all taken into consideration. But this year in London, a decision has been made to officially axe the swimsuit round of the competition.
For the first time in sixty-three years, the Bikini Body round of annual pageant Miss World has been dropped in future competitions despite the whole competition itself starting as a Bikini Contest in the Festival of Britain in 1951. CEO and chairwoman for Miss World Julia Morley has announced that she “doesn’t want or need to see women walking up and down in bikinis” so it shall no longer be featured in the yearly competitions.
It doesn’t do anything for the women and it doesn’t do anything for us.
Although the show is still watched by one billion people worldwide, feminist protesters claimed in 2011 that Miss World is almost “soft porn” and “reduces women down to the sum of their parts”. There has been some criticism against the competition’s representation of the female body, it has even been blamed for causing eating disorders. But despite controversial opinions, the pageant has kept on going for sixty-three years and Julia Morley kept her faith in the competition. But after standing strong against the protests and bad press over similar topics for years, it is odd that the organisers have simply taken this famous round off the agenda. Officials have spoken on behalf of the contestants and justified the cancellation down to it “not being the path they want to take”.
Head makeup artist from ARTDECO, Anne Bowcock – who was one of the head makeup artists for this year’s Miss World – told me that the tension and negativity behind the scenes is “below zero”. Her opinion on the bikini round is that it “raises the confidence of the women that enter and shows that even in minimal clothing you can feel beautiful”. Is it wise, then, for such a famous and important part of the show to be dismissed with so little pomp and ceremony?
Wilmer, the national director of Miss World America and Miss United States has stated that Miss World champion should assume “the role of an ambassador, rather than a beauty queen”. But surely this contradicts the main point of Miss World? If the competition was based solely on their efforts to support charities and global issues then the long hours of makeup, hair and dress making/changing would be a waste of time. If the bones of Miss World weren’t about the beauty of young women then the idea of employing the best of the best to work with the models would surely be discarded. I feel that the officials have been pressured by the lukewarm reception of the competition from feminists and others to help keep bad reviews to a minimum.
Rolene Strauss of South Africa – newly crowned Miss World – will be the last beauty queen to appear in the swimsuit round of the pageant. Although some will consider it a victory for objectivism it is undoubtedly an end of an era.