Miss Universe 2009

It’s that time of year again: the finale of the Miss Universe pageant is August 23, in the Bahamas. They’re trying something new this year, a “preliminary show” on the evening of August 16, which will be webcast. Miss Universe is one of my favorite pageants, along with Miss World. This year there are many strong contestants, as always; you can see photos and videos of them here.
Before moving on to this year’s contenders, we should bid farewell to Venezuela’s Dayana Mendoza, the reigning Miss Universe. We wrote about Ms. Mendoza here. She posted a glowing account of her visit to Guantanamo Bay on her blog on the Miss Universe site:

All the guys from the Army were amazing with us.
We visited the Detainees’ camps and we saw the jails, where they shower, how they recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting. We took a ride with the Marines around the land to see the division of Gitmo and Cuba while they were informed us with a little bit of history.

The Miss Universe organization was horrified and took the post down with an apology. To whom, I’m still not sure.
So far, no political angle has emerged on this year’s contest, nor have the betting odds begun to take shape. So I’ll just offer my own observations. This year’s pageant appears to be wide open. In my opinion, the contestants from a number of the major pageant powers are not as strong as usual, so there could be a big upset. One emerging theme, I think, is the resurgence of European contestants. In keeping with that idea, let’s start with some of the stronger Europeans.
I don’t know what the population of Iceland is, but in recent years it’s been way over-represented in the upper ranks of pageant contestants. This year’s Miss Iceland could break through; click to enlarge.
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For a while, it was hard to get contestants from Sweden because they objected to the swimsuit competition. This year, that objection seems to have gone by the boards.
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I don’t know how to classify Miss Belgium’s look, but I like it.
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And, finally, the lovely Miss Switzerland:
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And that’s just a partial introduction to one of six continents! (There is no contestant from Antarctica.) Much more to come.

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