Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Sonal Bhadoria | The News Minute | December 19, 2014 | 07:05 pm IST  Reita Faria, Aishwarya Rai, Diana Hayden, Yukta Mookhey and Priyanka Chopra famously have one thing in common. No, we aren’t talking about their Bollywood endeavours (leaving aside a demure Reita from 1966). These ladies represented India at the Miss World competition and beat out hundreds of other beauties for the coveted title. And they had to participate in a tradition that purists have called out of completely going against Indian cultural values-the swimsuit round. Well, all the cultural police can take rest. The Miss World pageant has decided to scrap the swimsuit portion of its competition for good. In an interview with Elle, pageant chairwoman Julia Morley explained: "I really don’t want—I don’t need to see women just walking up and down in bikinis. It doesn't do anything for the woman. And it doesn’t do anything for any of us," Miss World was started by her husband, the late Eric Morley as a swimsuit competition named The Festival Bikini contest, way back in 1951. Following an outrage, the swimsuits were confined to a single round and an interview portion was introduced. In recent years, the organization even stopped televising the swimwear round in front of a televised audience, opting to judge the girls privately in front of a small judging panel. ( Image Source: Miss World website ) But it still meant girls were being made to parade around in minimal clothing and getting marks based on whosoever came closest to a supposed notion of beauty. Explaining her thought process behind the move, Mrs Morley said, "I don’t care if someone has a bottom two inches bigger than someone else's. We are really not looking at her bottom. We are really listening to her speak. We don't want to just make them feel like they are walking bodies, you know?" While feminists have always been up in arms about beauty pageants since their inception, the Miss World has at least tried to show that the participating girls have a brain and a heart, apart from looks. In 1974, the beauty with a purpose round was started, that focused on the charitable works the contestants undertook in their native country. So not only the girls had to look like perfect models, they had to show their compassionate sides and think on their feet for the Q&A rounds. This year’s winner, Miss South Africa Rolene Strauss is a fourth year medical student and intends to carry on charitable work even after her win. While other pageants, like the Miss Universe competition will continue with their swimsuits round in the hope of grabbing maximum eyeballs during the televised event, Miss World surely has taken a huge step sensible step forward. ( Image Source: Miss World website ) Women today are bombarded with images of perfect bodied models and actresses who certainly have distorted the definition of beauty for many. But when a big organization like the Miss World places more emphasis on concepts of charity, talent, education and a well rounded personality, it surely is a step in the right direction. Here’s hoping other pageants take notice and follow suit, setting an example which shows there is always more to a women than just her physical attributes to be judged about. Here’s hoping this body positive message is what women take out of this modernist move. Tweet Also read: When the first Indian woman to win the Miss World title paid a visit to US soldiers

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