Since 1951, the Miss World pageant has been featuring over 120 contestants competing for one title and a crown.
Since 1951, when Kiki Hakansson won Miss World and was crowned on stage in a bikini, the swimsuit round has been a major part of the competition.
In 2001, Miss World organizers decided no longer to conduct this part of the beauty pageant on stage but instead do a private photo-shoot called “beach fashion,” so that contestants no longer had to parade in front of an audience.
Now, for the first time in 63 years, the organization’s 74 year old chairwoman Julia Morley has announced that Miss World will no longer feature a swimsuit round in their competition.
“The organization has decided to take itself out of the swimsuit world because it isn’t the path they’re trying to take,” said Chris Wilmer, the national director of Miss World America/Miss United States organization. “It’s not just a beauty contest, it’s ‘beauty with a purpose’. There didn’t seem to be a purpose to have the swimsuit.”
In recent years, Miss World has emphasized their “beauty with a purpose” round, where contestants carry out charity work and raise awareness to worthy causes.
“Miss World should be a spokesperson who can help a community,” Wilmer told ABC News. “She’s more of an ambassador, not a beauty queen. It’s more about the outreach and what a woman could do with a title like Miss World.”
As they try to steer clear of focusing on the physical appeal of their contestants, Miss World plans to feature a beachwear round in competitions, as opposed to bikinis. “It’ll be more of a fashion competition than a bikini show,” Wilmer said.
In addition to the swimsuit round, Miss World contestants have competed in challenge events like sports, dance, talent, top model gown, Beauty with a Purpose video, and several interviews.
“I salute the miss world organization for their efforts to try and modernize,” Wilmer said. “Pageantry is an age old industry and I think with Julia getting rid of swimsuit and making it more of a lifestyle competition sends a strong message and I applaud her for it.”
On Dec. 14, Rolene Strauss of South Africa was crowned the 64th Miss World winner in London. It marked the final event featuring contestants wearing bikinis.
But feminists and women’s rights activists have given the announcement a lukewarm reception and think the whole competition should go, however.
“The fact that the organizers have removed the swimsuit round shows that the organizers are reflecting on how women are viewed. However, it doesn’t change the fact that Miss World is a beauty pageant and that it is a fundamentally sexist institution,” Emily Sawyer, of the London feminists network, told The Telegraph.
Source Credits: Nicole Pelletiere of ABC News, RT.