Miss World: The cockroach of the entertainment scene

Competition now has ‘added tests of intelligence and personality’

Jennifer Hosten of Grenada (left) was Miss World 1970. Megan Young of the Philippines (right) is the reigning Miss World. Spot the difference in our 1970 - 2014 picture show (below). Some things really don’t ever change. Illustrations: Paul Scott

Jennifer Hosten of Grenada (left) was Miss World 1970. Megan Young of the Philippines (right) is the reigning Miss World. Spot the difference in our 1970 - 2014 picture show (below). Some things really don’t ever change. Illustrations: Paul Scott

 

Miss World is the cockroach of the entertainment scene. Once it checks in, it’s unlikely to check out.

Last year Miss World strutted its stuff in Indonesia. This year (this coming Sunday) it’s back in London where it all began.

Like death and taxes, little has changed.

Minor nips and tucks to the tried-and-tested format have seen those infamous “vital statistics” take a dive. The global beauty pageant has now repositioned itself using the slogan “Beauty with a Purpose”. It has also “added tests of intelligence and personality”. It still includes Miss World Beach Beauty and a Miss World Talent section, although there will be those who argue that those categories are inseparable.

It is here that the Irish can jump on the bandwagon of female pulchritudinal superiority and note that Rosanna Davison, who won the Miss World title in 2003, also took the Beach Beauty title. The former Miss Ireland took that beauty back to the beach for her topless German Playboy shoot in 2013.

This year’s competition will be broadcast live on many international television stations, although you’ll have to visit the internet to watch it here. (Note: if you put the words “bikini” and “best in world” into an internet search, we can’t guarantee what you might find.)

Some things have certainly changed, then.

Today’s proliferation of pornography makes Miss World’s swimwear section look almost quaint.

It is worth remembering that of the 122 countries supplying contestants for this year’s pageant, many are nations where women’s clothing choices march to the beat of a different cultural drum.

Although many shades of beauty have now been recognised by a competition criticised for its Euro-love and penchant for Venezuelans, contestants from bigger but lesser-valued continents are now winning the beauty prize. This year the favourite is South Africa’s Rolene Strauss. She would be the second African, after Nigeria’s Agbani Darego, to win the title. Strauss is white.

It won’t be all about bikini cup size on Sunday, though.

Sorry, it will.

LMFAO’s Sky Blu will use the opportunity to unveil his new single, the appropriately titled We Love Girls. Let’s hope the rapper who gave us breastfeeding appreciation ditty Get Crazy (“When I was a baby I was suckin on titties, Now that I’m older still suckin on titties, Different titties - but titties nonetheless”) does a mammarable turn.

Who knows? Ukip’s breastfeeding-refusenik Nigel Farage may even pop up at some stage and get Sky Blu to put them away.

In 1970, when London also hosted Miss World, a bunch of jealous man-hating feminist types ran amok and tried to spoil everybody’s fun by pelting genial host Bob Hope with tomatoes and flour.

All Hope had done was to ask: “Girls, will you turn around?” in order for the judges to get a 360-degree view of the contestants in bikinis. Those judges had a job to do. Some women will wreck anything.

“We’re not beautiful, we’re not ugly … we’re ANGRY!” the feminists shouted. (Commenters might like to add their bon mots in opposition to such tactics below this article. These women really did spoil it for everyone, after all. Give ‘em hell.)

Two years earlier, protestors outside the Miss America pageant had literally “burned their bras”. In a brazier, not while wearing them, of course. We women aren’t stupid.

We await the protests outside this year’s Miss World competition from the latest crop of feminists.

They are in fine fettle at the moment with their campaigns to ban The Sun’s infamous Page 3, remove men from UK banknotes and sell Karl Lagerfield’s clothes at feminist fashion shows. (Sorry, that last one was all Chanel’s work, but we were fooled for a moment.)

Such protests have spawned some victories for women on this side of the world.

Despite reaching audiences of 30 million viewers in its heyday, ITV dropped the Miss World pageant in 1988. It was shown live once more on Channel 5 in 1998 and 1999, and by ITV in 2001.

Now you won’t have to watch the Miss World contest unless you search the nether regions of the internet. If you do want to watch it, chances are you are going to be seriously distracted before you find it.

Now that women have the vote, some say it is time for them to stop whingeing about beauty contests that exist merely to celebrate the loveliness of the female form.

Women can indeed vote.

Women can earn the same as men. (Sorry, you can’t actually do that yet.)

Women can have a seat in the Dail. (Technically. You shouldn’t lose too much sleep over it, though.)

You can be a professor. (A few of you can, anyway. Clever girls.)

Women can do almost anything. Can’t they?

So what’s a swimsuit competition between friends?

Addendum: RIP María José Alvarado

The bodies of Miss Honduras 2014 and her sister Sofía were found buried by a river in northern Honduras last month.

María José, who was 19, had been due to travel to London for the Miss World pageant.

Sofía’s boyfriend is accused of the murders.

As well as competing in beauty pageants, María José was studying.

“She was very excited about going to London,” her older sister said. “She saw the contest as a way of getting ahead.”

María José’s ambition was to become a diplomat, according to the Miss World website.

Former presidential candidate and TV personality Salvador Nasrallah said: “A lot of girls die this way, but because they are not famous, it doesn’t get the attention and the crimes go unpunished.”

Miss World 2014, the 64th edition of the Miss World pageant, will be held on Sunday, December 14th, in London. Ireland will be represented by Jessica Hayes.

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