Miss Universe Controversy Begins

Those who follow beauty pageants have witnessed a remarkable number of controversies in recent years, some of them political. In general, the increase in the level of controversy probably reflects the growing interest in pageantry around the world.
This year’s Miss Universe contest will take place on August 23. Whereas in recent years the big international pageants have been staged in exotic locations, this year’s Miss Universe will be at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Which means, I guess, that it is not too late to get tickets if you are so inclined.
The first controversy of the season has already erupted; it is in the entertaining rather than political category. Australians are up in arms because the “national costume” their contestant, Jesinta Campbell, will be required to wear is a “travesty:”

An outlandish outfit designed to represent Australia at the Miss Universe beauty contest has been branded “a national joke” and “a travesty”.
The costume, which will be worn by Jesinta Campbell at the competition in Las Vegas next month, features high-heeled Ugg boots, a brown one piece swimming costume hand-painted by an Aboriginal artist and a lamb’s wool shrug. The ensemble is topped off by a voluminous flamenco-inspired rainbow skirt.
While Miss Campbell, 18, has said that she thinks the costume is “incredible”, the pastiche of styles has failed to win many fans in Australia, and has been called eye-catching, but for all the wrong reasons.

Here is the offending costume:
jesinta220-large_1687443f.jpg
Now, is the outfit ridiculous? Of course! But what outraged Australians don’t seem to realize is that, with rare exceptions, the getups that contestants are required to wear in the national costume portion of the Miss Universe pageant are completely bizarre. The event seems intended as a test of the contestants’ poise; that is, their ability to keep a straight face. For whatever reason, it’s a Miss Universe tradition.
My guess is that this is the first of several controversies that will occur over the next few weeks. In the meantime, it is good to see that people around the world are viewing the pageant with appropriate seriousness.

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