When Megan Young won the country’s first Miss World crown, there was technically no swimsuit contest. For years before then, the Beach Beauty fast-track challenge was in swimsuits. In 2013, responding to protests, candidates wore a sarong around their waists. The event was removed the following years.
True, if you wanted to see fitness, why not measure through the Sports challenge instead?
That forced a reevaluation. Do we need women parading in skimpy clothing? Isn’t that “asking for it”?
The issue was brought into focus again when Gabriela objected to the Miss Universe contest. For them, women become commodity in pageants, forced to go through hardship because of the standards of men. There had also been news of sexual harassment, and who can forget Donald Trump’s alleged propensity to fat-shame?
The argument is valid, but the other end of the discourse is also so. Some women see fulfillment in pageants, and I don’t think that makes them misguided. Moreover, these events can help women be confident and empowered, be “the best version of themselves.”
Look for instance at the body type that is favored these days: the toned body. In the 1950s, they emphasized the curve—full hips and a small waist. After then, the standard was thin. And then thin with a little plump.
In the 2000s, toned became the trend. It was OK to be of any shape, as long as your muscles were strong in the right places.
The idea made standards flexible. It helped less curvy women like Shamcey Supsup get to the Top 5. It accepted women of different proportions, like Pia Wurtzbach, who I was worried would not pass the swimsuit round because of her boobs na may sariling buhay.
Now more than ever, the decisive element is less and less measurements. I’d like to believe it is also less and less the color of your skin, the sash you wear, whatsoever. All that matters now is confidence.
Best portraying confidence this year, in my opinion, are Misses Argentina, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, watching them during the swimsuit presentation in Cebu. The last deservedly won the Flawless of the Universe award, which recognized an embodiment of Miss U’s mantra, “Confidently Beautiful.”
I’ve seen the same confidence in some plus-size and shorter candidates this year, definitely a step forward.
Confidence is not a form, it is a feeling. — Vaughn Alviar