Some say beauty pageants are antiquated and and shouldn’t exist in 2017. Certainly some of the rituals associated with the popular competitions need to go. Did you know that in Peru, it’s common practice for beauty queen contestants to publicly recite their bra sizes?
Women taking place in the Miss Peru pageant would normally be required to recite their bust, hip and waste measurements as part of the competition. However, this year, contestants are refusing to take part in the outdated practice. Instead, they are using the opportunity to take a stand against violence toward women. Rather than reciting their body measurements, they are reciting statistics of female trafficking, battery, and abuse in their home country. The Miss Peru Pageant was the most watched show in the country on Sunday, and the winner, 20-year-old Romina Lozano, used her turn at the microphone to explain how there have been 3,114 women victims of trafficking up until 2014. She also described the figures in her home nation as avoidable and regrettable.
The subject of violence against women was even on the judges minds. Judge Magaly Medina asked contestants about the topic:
“Every day we see that women die at the hands of their partners, if you had the opportunity to change the laws, what do you think would be the right one to put an end to the feminicide figures?”
Lozano replied by stating the following: “What we see every day on the news is regrettable. There is not a minute or a second when it stops.
“My plan would be to implement a database, one that could contain the name of each aggressor, not only for femicide but for everything that he did to a woman, to know who that person really is and thus make it possible that this does not continue happening. If we could implement something else, it would deprive them of everything, such as visits and other benefits.”
While it can’t be said whether or not her answer helped Lozano to win the competition, it certainly grabbed a lot of attention. Other contestants had similar answers, bringing focus to the important topic. Twenty-three contestants in total chose to recite statics on violence against women rather than reveal their bra size.
Contestant Juana Acevedo Chimpotaz told judges that her measurements were “70% of women in our country are victims of street harassment”. Participant Luciana Fernandez Lopez said her bra size was “13,000 girls suffer sexual abuse in our country.” “Greetings from Almendra Marroquín,” said another. “I represent Cañete, and my measurements are: more than 25% of girls and teenagers are abused in their schools.” The competition also projected news clippings and photographs of abused women on a backdrop while the contestants spoke.
Susána Chavez, director of Promsex, a gender rights organisation in Peru, sees this event as a major step forward. While she is not a fan of beauty pageants in general, she agrees that the competition provides a way to bring awareness of violence against women to an audience that isn’t easily accessible. She claims: “These competitions focus on many stereotypes about women and judge them by their physical characteristics, but they impact a broad group of women and men that we [feminist groups] do not reach.”
Whether you are for or against beauty pageants, you can’t deny that what contestants did in Peru was a step in the right direction. Violence against women is a serious problem. Hopefully in the future, it won’t take beauty queens in bikinis to put the issue on everyone’s radar.
And in another amazing step forward to prove that EVERY body is beautiful, meet Karista Harris, who is fighting to win a beauty pageant to prove “beauty comes in all sizes”.
Sadly, many of the comments only seek to knock her down…
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