I take back every negative thing I have ever said about beauty pageants.

Ladies! Go on and do your thing. Also, sorry, but USA WE’RE #!.

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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66 Responses to I take back every negative thing I have ever said about beauty pageants.

  1. Donna L says:

    The USA National Costume is being a transformer?

    Tom and Lorenzo’s blog covers this every year.

  2. Well, that’s very adjective.

  3. Ashley says:

    I think I dislike the idea of the national costume for this show. They just can’t win.

  4. Tom says:

    I’m confused. Why are yo reversing everything you said about beauty pageants? Am I missing something?

  5. Andie says:

    Of course, a Mountie. How original, Canada.

    • Kitty says:

      A sexy Mountie. Looks like a bad Halloween costume.

      • Donna L says:

        That was my thought!

        And Denmark is one sad-looking mermaid.

      • Fat Steve says:

        A sexy Mountie. Looks like a bad Halloween costume.

        Yes, that oddly seems like the most overtly sexualized outfit of the bunch. How many people have a Mountie fetish out there?

        I love the Transformer and the colors that the woman from Japan is wearing, but your description of ‘bad Halloween costume’ could apply to 90 of these outfits.

        • Andie says:

          I don’t know but thanks to Tumblr, I know there’s a very active Due South slashfic fandom, which I never imagined being a thing, but now that I know it is, I totall get it. That might be close to a Mountie fetish.

    • Raingeek says:

      As a Canadian, I am ashamed of the costume. Manages to be both vulgar and boring. It looks like they got it at the dollar store.

      Perhaps next time the designer should take a cue from some of the South American costumes … nothing exceeds like excess!

  6. thinksnake says:

    And Belgium is… the devil herself.

    • Donna L says:

      Is Belgium particularly known for Satanism?

      • Dibbit says:

        The national football team is known as “the red devils” and there is a lot of folk stories concerning the devil, especially outwitting him, as he’s not so much “ultimate anti-god of evil” as “bumbling car and soul salesmen who you can trick to be stuck in a tree for all eternity”
        Local stories abound about how “Hansworst” (The Village idiot) is capable of outwitting the devil (and thus evil)
        The moral is mostly “you don’t need the be smart to be good / not sin / not be tempted to do evil”
        There’s also Duvel beer, (devil beer) and many sayings involving the devil.

        And I don’t know why, it just is.

  7. Ally S says:

    Miss Ukraine is simply adorable. :3

    • Dibbit says:

      Switzerland and Sweden seem to be armed. Is that cheating? That feels like cheating.

      Also, on a personal note: what the hell, Miss Netherlands? That’s what they forced you into? a windmill hat and tulips on your pants? I guess that the peacock thingy with Amsterdam on it is..something, but the XXX might confuse people who don’t know that it’s the crest of Amsterdam.
      Although, on second thought, people might indeed associate XXX with Amsterdam.

      • Willemina says:

        Ms Sweden was channeling some serious Gustav Adolphus, she could have even pulled off the ginger Van Dyke.

        Ms Netherlands though..she looked like a grade school art project attacked her.

      • Fat Steve says:

        Also, on a personal note: what the hell, Miss Netherlands? That’s what they forced you into? a windmill hat and tulips on your pants? I guess that the peacock thingy with Amsterdam on it is..something, but the XXX might confuse people who don’t know that it’s the crest of Amsterdam.
        Although, on second thought, people might indeed associate XXX with Amsterdam.

        I think she looks rather neat. in that she is Miss Nertherlands, so she is covered in tulips both literally and figuratively. The headgear seams a bit weird, but the peacock thingy you described is a Grachtengordel and it is rather neat imagery having her in blue popping out of there.

  8. karak says:

    Just to say a thing:

    Was anyone else vaguely uncomfortable at how white/light this pageant seems to be? As well as wondering about the person donning some of the cultural costumes, especially countries with a long history of colonization? Like, is it really okay for you to wear that? Isn’t that edging on appropriation? Like if a non-Native Miss America wore an outfit from a Native tribe (authentic or inauthentic, still weird).

    Or perhaps it is I who is truly racist. Just wondering.

    • Willemina says:

      I gave pause to a couple of costumes from former colonies for sure.

    • Hugh says:

      I was impressed to note that Ms Israel is a person of colour.

      I actually felt the opposite – seeing Ms Australia and Ms Canada appear in costumes based purely on those countries’ European heritage seemed like an erasure of their indigenous cultures. It looks like Ms New Zealand has a dress made of feathers, which is an indigenous clothing tradition, so maybe a bit better, but it’s still very white looking.

      • karak says:

        Miss Israel pleasantly surprised me too.

        And you can go both ways with indigenous-influenced designs–are they homage or appropriation? And is not wearing them erasure or respect?

        I have no idea.

        I like Miss American’s costume though. Apparently I’m the only one who does.

        • Hugh says:

          I guess it’s a matter of whether or not indigenous people were involved with the design and production, but I’m not inclined to be charitable, given those countries histories.

        • BabyRaptor says:

          “And you can go both ways with indigenous-influenced designs–are they homage or appropriation? And is not wearing them erasure or respect?”

          I think these questions depend on two things: 1) How has the country treated it’s indigenous peoples? If there’s been a history of fairness and respect, then it’s safe to assume homage. If not, dig deeper. And 2) How do the people themselves feel about these costumes?Taking a person’s feeling and thoughts into consideration is a must when you’re borrowing their culture and life.

        • Hugh says:

          ” 1) How has the country treated it’s indigenous peoples? If there’s been a history of fairness and respect, then it’s safe to assume homage. If not, dig deeper. ”

          And if there has been a history of fairness and respect, please let me know how you made it to this wonderful alternative dimension, coz I’d like to move.

      • Donna L says:

        Also Ms. France, I believe.

      • Tim says:

        You might find it interesting to check out Adrienne K.’s Native Appropriations blog. She has written extensively on this and really does a good job of spelling out reasons why appropriation of Native American motifs for costumes is not OK (the bottom of that post has links to her other posts related to the topic and all are well worth reading). Of course, recommended with the caveat that no group of people is monolithic in their feelings and mileage may vary.

      • Coraline says:

        I think that Ms Australia’s costume is supposed to be a representation of the Great Barrier Reef…. in which case, nice, but where’s Nemo?

      • I can’t figure out what the hell Miss Australia was supposed to be, but it would hardly be right for her to wear a costume referring to Aboriginal culture unless she is of Aboriginal descent herself (I have no idea whether she is or not). It’d be appropriation, and on a trivial level would end up looking even tackier.

    • Donna L says:

      Are there any countries in particular that bothered you? I was actually struck by the fact that there were so many people of color.

      • Donna L says:

        Specifically, well over half of them. It’s not my place to say that a woman who appears to be Latina isn’t dark enough to count as a person of color.

      • Canisse says:

        I absolutely hated Miss France (I’m french). What was her costumed supposed to be? Apart from the Eiffel Tower-looking hat, is there any cultural references that I’m missing?
        Also, way too sexy. We did not need that much cleavage or legs, thank you very much.
        I loved Miss Korea, though. And Miss Botswana.

      • karak says:

        I noticed that a lot of the WoC were very light-skinned.

        I’m very glad to see more WoC being held up as standards of beauty, but there weren’t any very dark women in the pageant, or so it seemed to me.

        • sharon m says:

          I noticed that a lot of the WoC were very light-skinned.

          I’m very glad to see more WoC being held up as standards of beauty, but there weren’t any very dark women in the pageant, or so it seemed to me.

          I noticed that too Karak. I didn’t see any natural hair either. :/
          (Trudy blog Gradient Lair regularly features darker skinned women with natural hair. She’s one of the few bloggers who do afaik.)

      • Chataya says:

        I noticed that, too. I expect large amounts of racism and white supremacy in a beauty contest, but there were lots of WoC in those photos. Almost all of them were light-skinned, though.

        My favorites were Israel, Namibia, and Poland.

    • sharon m says:

      Whitey Mcwhite here: It looked like a white out, and I didn’t see any natural hair either.
      The costumes: hmmm. I know what you mean. Which brings this up: It’d be nice if Miss U.S.A was Native American.

  9. FYouMudFlaps says:

    New Zealand seems to have treated the Maori well, at least compared to Indigenous Australians, U.S. Native Americans, and Canada’s First Nations.

  10. Mariucel says:

    I don’t understand the German one, at all.

    • Donna L says:

      What’s that giant ring hanging down from the front of her skirt? A flotation device? Some sort of oversized contraceptive, like a Nuvaring?

      • Willemina says:

        My first thought was carousel, because of the weird tent like flare and the horses. On further thought it could be from the Niebelungenlied?

      • Tim says:

        Yeah, I thought of a life preserver. It also kinda reminded me of a string-pull ring on a Chatty Cathy (I’m really dating myself) or similar talking doll. Both of those things would be … um, weird, I guess.

      • Mariucel says:

        There’s one in the back too, if you look carefully.

        It’s just a mystery. The cut, maybe a Prussian uniform?

    • Karak says:

      I immediately thought Wagner, The Ring of The Nebelung (did I spell that right? I’m not sure I spelled it right).

    • Donna L says:

      I was so curious that I went and found these two explanations of the costume, one by Ms. Germany herself and one by her costume designer:


      first we had the national colors ‘black – red – gold’, then a uniform inspired by the uniforms of the time of Frederick William and elements of the Brandenburg Gate as the four horses of the Quadriga. Since I’m from Berlin and study in Potsdam, Brandenburg So, we wanted to combine elements from my native region in a costume!

      DAIR had the honour to design an outfit for the National Costume Show. The National Costume is inspired by Berlin memorial stone Brandenburger Gate. Odair was inspired by this memorial stone because of the significance of this. Miss Germany Ana Julia Hagen lives in Berlin. For this reason Odair wanted to be inspired by a specific eye catcher of Berlin. Odair likes to use different fabrics, silhouettes and color combinations. With the Branderburger Gate he was challenged to combine those facts and create a new design with a DAIR signature. The meaning of the National Costume The Brandenburger Gate symbolizes unity of Berlin. Carl Gotthard Langhans has rebuilded this monument from 1788 till 1791 to a monument of freedom. . . . From 1961 till 1989 Berlin was divided in west and east with the Berlin Border . There was no unity. After a lot of changes the Berlin border was official over. In 2000 west and east Berlin worked together on this memorial stone. This was one of Germany’s biggest and historical moments. From that moment the Brandenburger Gate symbolized the unity of Berlin. For Miss Germany this is the best message she can present at the Miss Universe pageant. On top off the memorial stone you see the greek goddess Victoria. She stands for victory. At Miss Universe every participant dreams of victory, but Miss Germany Ana Julia Hagen doesn’t need to speak about her chance of victory. The costume will do it for her. Winners are silent losers talk!

      There’s no specific explanation of what the rings mean, but I think there are only two possibilities: either they represent the two wheels of the quadriga’s chariot, or they represent the oak wreath atop the goddess’s lance, on which the eagle sits. (But without the Iron Cross that’s inside the wreath.)

  11. TomSims says:

    Nice costumes, very impressive.

  12. tinyorc says:

    MISS PERU IS ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING.

    Full points to Sweden.

    So many feathers everywhere.

  13. Natalia says:

    So I only got around to seeing these pictures recently (even though the event was in Moscow, I didn’t get out there – though our camera crew did, and basked in the ridiculous atmosphere).

    Did anyone else besides me notice Miss Kazakhstan? That is just an awesome look. No feathers. Great necklace.

    Miss Lebanon was also pretty cool. Miss Namibia had great make-up. I’m guessing Miss Switzerland is supposed to be a swan – she gets big props for the short hair. I’m also an admirer of Miss Botswana’s simple look, and I really do wish simple looks were more of a hit at these things. And that thing on Miss Hungary’s head – I don’t know what it’s called, but I dig it. And Miss Israel rocked a complicated outfit that was nevertheless not TOO complicated, and had a great pattern on the front.

    You have to take the good where you can find it at these events, I guess.

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