Britain has for the most part lost interest in this exclusively female competition, but in Asia and other parts of the world, many young women still regard it as a valued opportunity to achieve success for themselves, and the causes they support.
eld in the north eastern city of Ordos, China, the hosts of 2012 Miss World were no doubt overjoyed to crown their very own Wenxia Yu out of 116 competing contestants. A 23-year-old music student who is fluent in both Chinese and English, she aspires to be a teacher and ‘follows her dreams with a smile.’ She is the second Chinese contestant to win the prestigious beauty pagent.
However, there appears to be a clear contrast between Asia and the West when it comes to outside support for this particular event. [quote align=”center” color=”#b64736″]In the contest’s 61st year, it remains the longest running international beauty pageant, but what can it be without a worldwide following?[/quote]Once said to be ‘greater than international events like the World Cup and the Olympic Games,’ and at its peak, attracting an audience of 27.5 million in Britain alone, Miss World’s influence has declined significantly with the rise of feminism in the seventies. To many British eyes, the pageant is an anachronism, from an age where women’s horizons were considerably more limited and a nice figure and flair for homemaking were all the tools girls needed to get by. The divergent viewing figures for Miss World around the world are perhaps more telling of global attitudes and approaches to gender equality than differing international standards of beauty.
Whilst Miss World was created in the UK, today you will be hard pressed to find significant numbers of viewers. However countries in Asia continue to broadcast the pageant on major channels, contributing greatly to the global television audience of over a billion viewers.
Regardless of the West’s lack of enthusiasm for the contest, for many young women fighting for social agency in their country, this competition still represents an opportunity for hope, giving them a platform to promote themselves and their causes in the Beauty With A Purpose Award. Donating hundreds of millions of dollars to organisations in aid of disadvantaged children all over the world, in her speech Miss China expressed a hope of her own: “When I was young I felt very lucky because so many people helped me, and I hope in the future I can help more children to feel lucky.”
By Roberta Phillips