Last night, a new Miss Universe was crowned. Surprisingly, she wasn’t from the perennial power houses like Venezuela (maybe the country to hold the most Miss Universe and Miss World titles ever…the New York Times once joked and said that they export beauty queens), Puerto Rico and the US. But instead, this year’s queen is a 20-year old dancer named Riyo Mori from Japan. From my research, she is only the second woman from Japan to hold this title. The first was in 1959 (surprise!) when Akiko Kojimawon the title. But this particular pageant was an interesting one on many levels.
Politics, as usual, seeps into everything. The Miss Universe Pagent isn’t immune either. Miss USA (Rachel Smith) was heckled and jeered by the crowd who are against the American stance on immigration (the competition was held in Mexico City).
Hours before the pageant began, dozens of protesters held a mock ceremony in downtown Mexico City that featured “Miss Marijuana,” “Miss Sexual Health,” “Miss Human Rights” and other candidates with obscenities written across their sashes. The group yelled “Neither ugly nor beautiful, should a woman be considered an object!” A lot of people worldwide feel the same way about pageants in general. Sweden didn’t even send a competitor this year as they felt the competition did not represent the modern woman.
Others used the competition to challenge the world’s standards of beauty. Miss Tanzania, Flaviana Matata, an electricaltechnician whose country is participating in the pageant for the first time, is the first Miss Universe contestant to display a clean-shaven head. While Miss Jamaica, Zahra Redwood, is the pageant’s first Rastafarian to participate and edition of Miss Universe and the first contestant ever to appear in dreadlocks (as a child of Caribbean descent, it was nice to see someone who looked like me).
Though the pageant was riddled with issues, I think it was a reflection of today’s modern woman– political scandals, protests and making statements…times are definitely a-changing.