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 #!.

Author: has written 5280 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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66 Responses

  1. Donna L
    Donna L November 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm |

    The USA National Costume is being a transformer?

    Tom and Lorenzo’s blog covers this every year.

    1. trees
      trees November 14, 2013 at 10:49 pm |

      Why is she a transformer? It’s an alien that takes the form of a truck right? How does this represent the USA?

      Also, those costumes are all so fucking awesome.

      1. karak
        karak November 14, 2013 at 11:59 pm |

        Officially: Transformers in a highly successful film franchise, that taps into the perceived American values of militarism, patriotism, morality, ethics, self-sacrifice, and driving bitchin’ pointlessly large cars.

        Unofficially: MURICA. FUCK YEAH.

        1. trees
          trees November 15, 2013 at 5:46 pm |

          @Karak

          I see; thanks for breaking it down for me.

      2. Willemina
        Willemina November 15, 2013 at 12:58 am |

        Murica, fuck yeah.

      3. EG
        EG November 15, 2013 at 8:50 am |

        How does that not represent the US, really?

        1. Tim
          Tim November 15, 2013 at 12:22 pm |

          Exactly, EG. I thought it was kind of cool, and I was also kind of relieved. When they started that part of the program, I was thinking, oh no, here comes another “Indian-headdress” inspired US national costume worn by a white woman and then it wasn’t! And Canada didn’t do it either. Sometimes you gotta take a little progress where you can get it.

        2. trees
          trees November 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm |

          @EG
          I said:

          Why is she a transformer? It’s an alien that takes the form of a truck right? How does this represent the USA?

          You responded:

          How does that not represent the US, really?

          I feel like there’s some meaning flying over my head here.

    2. trishka
      trishka November 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm |

      link please? or will teh google point the way?

  2. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune November 14, 2013 at 10:22 pm |

    Well, that’s very adjective.

  3. Ashley
    Ashley November 14, 2013 at 10:40 pm |

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

  4. Tom
    Tom November 14, 2013 at 11:18 pm |

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

  5. Andie
    Andie November 14, 2013 at 11:21 pm |

    Of course, a Mountie. How original, Canada.

    1. Kitty
      Kitty November 15, 2013 at 4:05 am |

      A sexy Mountie. Looks like a bad Halloween costume.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L November 15, 2013 at 8:07 am |

        That was my thought!

        And Denmark is one sad-looking mermaid.

        1. Willemina
          Willemina November 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm |

          I had to puzzle over that one for a second. More sequins needed.

      2. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve November 16, 2013 at 12:35 am |

        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.

        1. Andie
          Andie November 16, 2013 at 6:20 pm |

          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.

    2. Raingeek
      Raingeek November 15, 2013 at 7:04 pm |

      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
    thinksnake November 14, 2013 at 11:41 pm |

    And Belgium is… the devil herself.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L November 15, 2013 at 8:04 am |

      Is Belgium particularly known for Satanism?

      1. Dibbit
        Dibbit November 15, 2013 at 8:37 am |

        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
    Ally S November 14, 2013 at 11:57 pm |

    Miss Ukraine is simply adorable. :3

    1. Dibbit
      Dibbit November 15, 2013 at 8:49 am |

      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.

      1. Willemina
        Willemina November 16, 2013 at 1:07 am |

        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.

      2. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve November 16, 2013 at 2:20 am |

        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
    karak November 15, 2013 at 12:20 am |

    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.

    1. Willemina
      Willemina November 15, 2013 at 1:00 am |

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

    2. Hugh
      Hugh November 15, 2013 at 1:23 am |

      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.

      1. karak
        karak November 15, 2013 at 2:09 am |

        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.

        1. Hugh
          Hugh November 15, 2013 at 4:40 am |

          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.

        2. BabyRaptor
          BabyRaptor November 15, 2013 at 5:22 am |

          “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.

        3. Hugh
          Hugh November 15, 2013 at 5:29 am |

          ” 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.

      2. Donna L
        Donna L November 15, 2013 at 8:06 am |

        Also Ms. France, I believe.

      3. Tim
        Tim November 15, 2013 at 12:35 pm |

        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.

      4. Coraline
        Coraline November 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm |

        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?

      5. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
        The Kittehs' Unpaid Help November 16, 2013 at 12:26 am |

        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.

    3. Donna L
      Donna L November 15, 2013 at 8:05 am |

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

      1. Donna L
        Donna L November 15, 2013 at 8:13 am |

        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.

        1. Tim
          Tim November 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm |

          It seemed like there were more African contestants than usual, and all of them appeared to be black, except Miss South Africa Miss Israel was interesting, too. I wondered if maybe she had Ethiopian Beta Israel heritage.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L November 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm |

          She’s an Ethiopian Jew.

        3. Donna L
          Donna L November 15, 2013 at 12:46 pm |

          By heritage, I mean; she’s Israeli.

        4. Willemina
          Willemina November 15, 2013 at 12:49 pm |

          She does.

      2. Canisse
        Canisse November 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm |

        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.

        1. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help November 16, 2013 at 12:29 am |

          I thought Miss France’s costume was dire, too. Mock-Eiffel Tower girders on a floppy skirt? Oh dear. It looked like something out of a kindergarten pageant.

      3. karak
        karak November 15, 2013 at 3:02 pm |

        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.

        1. sharon m
          sharon m November 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm |

          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.)

      4. Chataya
        Chataya November 15, 2013 at 8:06 pm |

        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.

    4. sharon m
      sharon m November 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm |

      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
    FYouMudFlaps November 15, 2013 at 5:54 am |

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

    1. Hugh
      Hugh November 16, 2013 at 2:21 pm |

      Google ‘Parihaka’ and then see if you feel like editing your post.

  10. Mariucel
    Mariucel November 15, 2013 at 12:22 pm |

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

    1. Donna L
      Donna L November 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm |

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

      1. Willemina
        Willemina November 15, 2013 at 12:50 pm |

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

      2. Tim
        Tim November 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm |

        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.

      3. Mariucel
        Mariucel November 16, 2013 at 4:49 pm |

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

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

    2. Karak
      Karak November 15, 2013 at 11:03 pm |

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

      1. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
        The Kittehs' Unpaid Help November 16, 2013 at 12:30 am |

        Nibelung, I think.

      2. Hugh
        Hugh November 16, 2013 at 2:21 pm |

        I really hope that’s not what it is.

      3. Mariucel
        Mariucel November 16, 2013 at 4:47 pm |

        Well, it’s two rings. One in front and one in the back. And it’s “Nibelungs”, plural. One ring, multiple nibelungs.

    3. Donna L
      Donna L November 16, 2013 at 9:08 pm |

      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
    TomSims November 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm |

    Nice costumes, very impressive.

  12. tinyorc
    tinyorc November 16, 2013 at 10:16 am |

    MISS PERU IS ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING.

    Full points to Sweden.

    So many feathers everywhere.

    1. Tony
      Tony November 17, 2013 at 5:27 am |

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s Chucky over her shoulder.

  13. Natalia
    Natalia November 19, 2013 at 4:58 am |

    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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