World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Beauty pageant

Article Id: WHEBN0000095198
Reproduction Date:

Title: Beauty pageant  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of models who died during their careers in the 21st century, Valeska Saab, Jeanne Harn, Kristen Dalton (Miss USA), Larissa Ramos
Collection: Articles Containing Video Clips, Beauty Pageants
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Beauty pageant

Miss World Canada 2012 Grand Crowning Gala
The crowning of Mrs Texas

A beauty pageant 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, intelligence, talent, and answers to judges' questions as judged criteria. The term almost invariably refers only to contests for women and girls; with similar events for men or boys being called by other names and are more likely to be bodybuilding contests.

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.

Subject to community standards, 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", be "amateur", be available for promotions, besides other criteria. It may also set the clothing standards in which contestants will be judged, including the type of swimsuit.


  • Major beauty pageants 1
  • History 2
    • Miss America Pageant 2.1
    • International Pageants 2.2
  • Purpose 3
    • Selection of "beauty queen" 3.1
  • Criticism 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Bibliography 7

Major beauty pageants

Founded Pageant Organizer Location Bikini allowed Bikini regulation
1921 Miss America [1] Atlantic City, New Jersey 1997 1947: Bikinis were outlawed because of Roman Catholic protesters.[2]
1997: Contestants allowed to wear bikinis.[1]
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,[3] and Pope Pius XII condemned the crowing as sinful.[4][5]
1952: Swimsuits toned down to more modest designs.[1]
1996: Miss World contest was held in Bangalore, India, but "Swimsuit Round" was shifted to Seychelles because of intense protests.[6]
2013: The swimsuit round was dropped because of Islamist protests in Bali, Indonesia, where the contest took place.[7]
1952 Miss Universe William Morris Endeavor New York City 1997 1952: Bikinis banned.
1997: Contestants allowed to wear bikinis.[1]
1952 Miss USA William Morris Endeavor New York City 1997 1952: Bikinis banned.
1997: Contestants allowed to wear bikinis.[1]
2000: Tankinis were provided as an option for the first (and only) time.[1]
1983 Miss Teen USA Gulf+Western Palm Springs, California 1997 1983: Bikinis banned.
1997: Contestants allowed to wear bikinis.[1]
2000: Tankinis were provided as an option for the first (and only) time.[1]
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.[1]


Beauty contest in Montréal, 1948
Bathing beauty contest, USA, 1920

The first modern beauty pageant was held during the Eglinton Tournament of 1839 held by 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 by public protest.[8][9] He previously held dog, baby, and bird beauty contests. He substituted daguerreotypes for judging, a practice quickly adopted by newspapers. Newspapers held photo beauty contests for many decades.

It was in the 1880s that beauty pageants became more popular. 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 for entry and a final selection of 21 were judged by a formal panel.[10]

Miss America Pageant

The oldest pageant still in operation today is the Atlantic City, New Jersey.[1] 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

Seawall Boulevard and the Hotel Galvez in the 1940s
Postcard view of Galveston where the International Pageant of Pulchritude was held in 1921.

In May 1920 promoter C.E. Barfield of [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).

The first extant international competition to be established was the Miss World pageant, created in the United Kingdom by Eric Morley in 1951,[19][20] and is still one of the most publicised beauty contests in the world.[21][22][23] The competition started as the Festival Bikini Contest, in honour of the recently introduced swimwear of the time, but was called "Miss World" by the media. It was originally planned as a one-off event. Upon learning about the upcoming Miss Universe pageant, Morley decided to make the pageant an annual event.[24][25] Opposition to the wearing of bikinis led to their replacement with more modest swimwear after the first contest.[26] In 1959, the BBC started broadcasting the competition. The pageant's popularity grew with the advent of television.[27]

The largest international beauty pageants are Miss World (founded in 1951) and Miss Universe (begun in 1952).


Lone Star State Selects Beauties for 100 Year Pageant[28]

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 queens. In the United States, the May Day tradition of selecting women to serve as symbols of bounty and community ideals continued, as young beautiful women participated in public celebrations.[29]

Some pageants award college scholarships, to the winner or multiple runners-up.[30]

Selection of "beauty queen"

Beauty pageants are generally multi-tiered, with local competitions feeding into the larger competitions.[31] International pageants involve hundreds, sometimes thousands, of local competitions.


Critics of beauty contests 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 diet to the point of harming themselves.[32][33][34]

It is argued that rather than being empowering, beauty pageants are in fact disempowering because they deny the full humanity of women and they reinforce the idea that women's purpose is to look attractive.[35]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j
  2. ^
  3. ^ Han Shin, Beauty with a Purpose, page 193, iUniverse, 2004, ISBN 0-595-30926-7
  4. ^ Various, Selvedge: The Fabric of Your Life, page 39, Selvedge Ltd., 2005
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Nidhi Tewari, "Miss Universe 2013: Winning Beauty To Wear Million Dollar Diamond-Studded Swimsuit", International Business Times, November 5, 2013
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ a b c
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Singapore must not give up its 59 seconds of fame Archived 23 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ Miss Teenage California scholarship awards, from the pageant website
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^


  1. Sones, Michael. "History of the Beauty Pageant." Beauty Worlds: The Culture of Beauty (2003): n. pag. Web. 4 November 2009.
  2. Liben, Lynn S., Rebecca S. Bigler, Diane N Ruble, Carol Lynn Martin, and Kimberly K. Powlishta. "Conceptualizing, Measuring, and Evaluating Constructs and Pathways." Developmental Course of Gender Differentiation. 67.2 i-183. Print.
  3. Harvey, Adia M. "Becoming Entrepreneurs: Intersections of Race, Class, and Gender at the Black Beauty Salon." Gender and Society. 19.6 (2005): 789-808. Print.
  4. Banet‐Weiser, Sarah. "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World: Beauty Pageants and National Identity." (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999)
  5. Wilk, Richard. "The Local and the Global in the Political Economy of Beauty: From Miss Belize to Miss World." Review of International Political Economy. 2.1 (1995): 117-134. Print.
  6. Burgess, Zena, and Phyllis Tharenou. "Women Board Directors: Characteristics of the Few." Journal of Business Ethics. 37.1 (2002): 39-49. Print.
  7. Huffman, Matt L., and Philip N. Cohen. "Occupational Segregation and the Gender Gap in Workplace Authority: National versus Local Labor Markets." Sociological Forum. 19.1 (2004): 121-147. Print.
  8. Ciborra, Claudio U. "The Platform Organization: Recombining Strategies, Structures, and Surprises." Organization Science. 7.2 (1996): 103-118. Print.
  9. Lamsa, Anna-Maija, and Teppo Sintonen. "A Discursive Approach to Understanding Women Leaders in Working Life." Journal of Business Ethics. 34.3/4 (2001): 255-267. Print.
  10. Bell, Myrtle P., Mary E. McLaughlin, and Jennifer M. Sequeira. "Discrimination, Harassment, and the Glass Ceiling: Women Executives as Change Agents." Journal of Business Ethics. 37.1 (2002): 65-76. Print.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.