Nothing Beautiful About These Miss World Pageant Questions


Nothing Beautiful About These Miss World Pageant Questions

Illustration: Palak Bansal/Arré

When Manushi Chillar was crowned Miss World 2017, she became the sixth Indian woman to bag the prestigious title and earned herself a lead role in Sajid Khan’s Housefull 7. She came to her crown with an answer that warmed the heart of every Indian mother, but to be fair, she did get an easy question: Which job deserves the highest salary?

Mommy-bait aside, beauty pageants have a rich history of throwing around some seriously dumb questions at their doe-eyed contestants. They show a particular fondness for bringing about world peace and resolving world hunger with the strange belief that these issues can, in fact, be solved at beauty pageants. While every beauty contestant worth her silk sash has boned up on solutions to world peace and world hunger there are some questions that you just cannot be prepared for.

1. During Miss USA 2013, judge Mario Cantone asked Miss Oklahoma: What did you think of Miley Cyrus’ twerking at the VMAs? Really, Mario? What happened, did all the questions about Mother Teresa dry up? To her credit, Miss Oklahoma answered it gracefully by saying how she respects Miley’s creativity, even though she personally didn’t find it in good taste.

2. In 2003, the good folks at Miss Universe decided it would be a good idea to get all philosophical and based their questions on the elements. Would you rather be fire or water? Naturally, Miss Serbia brushed it off with, “I’m human. I can’t answer that.” It left most of the MU’03 organising committee red-faced, because they had let contestants provide questions for each other. It did nothing for the career of Miss Dominican Republic, who came up with this sophomoric question, who didn’t get any offers to host game shows.

3. Back at the Miss Philippines Pageant in 2001, Jennie Anderson was asked, “Would you rather be beautiful or smart?” Miss Anderson thought the worst part of her night was over when the host remarked, “You’re so tall,” upon seeing her. But then 1969’s Miss Universe, Gloria Diaz asked her the above question. Miss Anderson just couldn’t catch a break, because it’s not like the obvious answer to that question is that women can be both beautiful and smart.

Beauty pageants are in a world of their own that have no bearing on real life.

4. Miss Universe 2011 was pretty standard until we got to the Q&A round with Miss China being questioned by Isabeli Fontana about her stance on nude beaches and whether nudity in public spaces was acceptable or not? Rich, coming from an event that makes women strut around in bikinis on stage.

5. At the same event, the eventual winner Miss Angola was asked, if she could change one physical characteristic, which one would it be and why? This question managed to combine the three-way knockout punch of most beauty pageants: misogyny, sexism, and society’s inherent need to make women feel inadequate about themselves.

Well, at least there is some justice in the universe. Beauty pageants are in a world of their own that have no bearing on real life. It isn’t as if we’ve allowed whoever wrote or ran the Miss Universe charade back then to hold an office of geo-political importance.