Miss Universe: A Retrospective

The finale of the Miss Universe pageant was last night and, as Paul suggested this morning, I was too busy to cover it live. As you’ve no doubt heard, Miss Venezuela won, a rare repeat as the new Miss Universe, Stefania Fernandez, will replace fellow Venezuelan Dayana Mendoza. Here she is:
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A pretty girl no doubt, but not at all my type. You can see the list of finalists here. The first runner-up was Miss Dominican Republic, one of the favorites. The second was Miss Kosovo:
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Miss Australia, the prohibitive betting favorite, was third runner-up; Miss USA finished in the top ten. You can see a pretty good video that covers the whole competition here.
I always look for a political angle on beauty pageants, and you could say that Miss Venezuela is a post-feminist winner:

During the question-and-answer segment involving the five top finalists, Fernandez was asked by a judge what obstacles faced women seeking to become leaders of business corporations.
“We’ve already reached the same level as men,” she replied confidently, speaking through an interpreter.

Or you could note Miss Fernandez’s lack of affinity for her country’s brutal dictatorship:

She said she does not expect that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — who did not congratulate Mendoza last year — will praise her as other leaders have done with winners from their countries. But perhaps fittingly for a beauty queen, she offered a diplomatic answer when asked her opinion of the socialist leader’s policies.
“I think they are extreme measures, but I trust that little by little, Venezuelans will start understanding each other and try to make the country better. We are trying to communicate more with each other.”

Still, I can’t help feeling that this year’s contest was a little ho-hum. I think that’s partly because the pageant’s web site didn’t have much information about the contestants (although the photography was good) and, unlike the Miss World pageant, Miss Universe doesn’t have preliminary events that generate much pre-finale interest. Maybe it’s time for a shakeup in the format. Not to worry, though: Miss World is only four months away.

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