In 2015, the Miss World bikini contest will be eliminated for good. The groundbreaking decision was announced by Julia Morely, the chairwoman of Miss World, Elle magazine reports. A private meeting held this week resulted in the organization pulling the swimsuit competition entirely for future pageants.
When Miss World began in 1951, 26 contestants were featured in bikinis to attract a large audience to raise money and boost morale after World War II. It worked, but a lot has changed in 63 years. The shock value has faded tremendously.
Miss World also judges contestants on their talent, fashion runway, athletics, interviews, service projects, and academic records. It gives the women a platform as well to speak about causes they care about. Rolene Stauss from South Africa just won Miss World 2014 and her service project is dedicated to keeping girls in school. Strauss be the final winner in the Miss World bikini contest that the pageant allowed.
Morely, 74, shares her reasons for eliminating the bikini competition.
“I really don’t want — 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 Elle article notes that Donald Trump’s Miss Universe pageant puts a strong emphasis on the swimsuit portion of the contest. There isn’t a chance for contestants to speak of causes they care about, nor do they have interviews asked of them. When Mrs. Morely’s husband, Eric Morely, died in 2000, she got a call from Trump. He asked her if she was ready to “throw in the towel” and that made her stick with the pageant her husband created 63 years ago. She wants to steer away from Trump’s ideal in these types of pageants.
“They are not little girls. This is what I want to get away from. This sort of ‘cute’ image. No offense to Mr. Trump.”
Bikini contests have been bashed by feminists and countless others for being “degrading” to women. The decision to ban the swimsuit competition will be a sign of progress to many of what women should be judged on.
When the 2014 pageant was held in London earlier this week, a handful of protestors showed up from the London Feminist Network, according to the Telegraph. They, as well as many other groups, oppose the competition as a whole — not the just the bikini segment.
In 1974, Morley began changing things up a bit when she added the Beauty with a Purpose, which is the “service element” of Miss World. She did it in an effort to take some focus off only the physical aspects of the contest. As a result, it’s also raised over $1 billion for charity.
Although the bikini portion of the competition has been around until now, women were allowed to wear more modest attire, such as one-piece suits or scarves tied around their waists. The judging was done off-camera.
“We don’t want to just make them feel like they are walking bodies, you know?” Morley says.
Julia Morely’s decision to remove the Miss World bikini contest is seen as a “pioneering move” within the industry, Elle writes. This is believed to set a new trend that may encourage others in the pageant industry to consider the same thing.
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