Miss Universe: New era of beauty pageant pushes diversity with transgender boss and eligibility changes
With a transgender tycoon at the helm, new criteria that allows married women and mothers to compete, and a push for diversity on the global stage — Miss Universe has never been more relevant.
While beauty pageants have faced criticism in the past for objectifying women and placing an over-emphasis on looks, the world’s best-known pageant has ushered in a new era for 2023 that puts feminism at the fore.
History has been made twice in the past year — first, when the Miss Universe Organisation expanded its eligibility criteria to include married or divorced women and those with children for the first time in its 70-year run.
Then it was announced transgender millionaire Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip had bought the rights to the international pageant, making her the first woman to own the competition.
“From now on it’s gonna be run by women, owned by a trans woman, for all women around the world to celebrate the power of feminism,” the Thai business mogul said earlier this year.
Ms Jakrajutatip added she was committed to championing “diverse cultures, social inclusion (and) gender equality” in her new role.
Transgender women have been able to compete since 2012, and in 2018 Angela Ponce was the first openly transgender woman to be crowned Miss Spain.
The West Australian spoke to past finalists from the WA leg of Miss Universe Australia, run by Troy and Sophia Barbagallo, who all praised the pageant for celebrating the qualities that made them different.
Zimbabwe-born law student and 2021 finalist Rutendo Chifamba said she felt the organisers were “looking for women beyond their skin” and placed a big emphasis on internal qualities and self-development.
“They aren’t necessarily looking for that perfect white Australian mould, they see that Australians come in different sizes, shapes and colours with different personalities,” Ms Chifamba said.
“I feel pageants have become a lot more diverse. The first time I entered I was very insecure and impressionable, and I thought I had to change myself as much as I could to fit within a mould.
“But I learnt that what they value is you standing in your truth and really owning what makes you unique. I have learnt not to try and blend in, but really love and appreciate what makes me stand out.”
Last year’s Miss West Coast titleholder Briana Demaio said she emerged from her reign with bolstered self-esteem.
“My confidence has grown so much, and it is still growing,” she said. “I was so shy before this.”
Curve model Tasha Marciano made it to the national stage two years in a row and said the modern-day beauty queen needed to be someone unafraid to speak their mind.
“It’s really important for these girls to use their platform to encourage others to educate other women that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and you don’t need to look a certain way to be happy and healthy,” she said.
“It’s important for them to have an opinion and speak up on what they believe in. That’s what the pageant is really about, as opposed to just being up there and looking good.
“With social media nowadays, young girls are looking up to public figures and influencers so it’s crucial for them to have an advocacy where they can make a difference to people’s lives.”
The Miss Universe Australia national final is on September 1 in Melbourne.
Denial of responsibility! Verticall lobby is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – email@example.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.