The world of beauty pageants is heavily scrutinised due to the importance that is placed on looks rather than how strong the women are. One pageant, however, decided to use their platform to speak out against femicide and advocate for women's rights by having each contestant replace their measurements (which are announced to the judges) with a shocking fact or statistic that highlights issues including violence against women.
Miss Peru 2018's winner, Romina Lozano, for example, announced to the judging panel: “I represent the constitutional province of Callaomy and my measurements are: 3,114 women victims of trafficking up until 2014.”
Another contestant, Camila Canicoba added: “My measurements are: 2,202 cases of germicide reported in the last nine years in my country.”
A third, Belgica Guerra told judges: “My measurements are: the 65% of university women who are assaulted by their partners.”
The breakaway from the tradition of giving contestants' body measurements turns the pageant on its head, creating an opportunity for advocacy, rather than further endorsing beauty standards. South American countries tackle with harrowing numbers of cases of violence against women, and it's wonderful to see that the pageant allowed contestants to actually share those statistics out loud to call attention to the problem.
In the final round, the women were asked to discuss how they would work to fight against femicide, a far cry from Miss Congeniality's questions about perfect dates and world peace. Miss Peru's organiser, Jessica Newton, told Buzzfeed News: “everyone who does not denounce and everyone who does not do something to stop this is an accomplice.”
Newton then went on to add: “Women can walk out naked if they want to. Naked. It's a personal decision. If I walk out in a bathing suit, I am just as decent as a women who walks out in an evening dress.”
It's great to see that, in a world that focuses so prominently on physical appearance, skimpy bathing suits and glamorous gowns that the importance of a woman's worth and safety is still so loudly campaigned for.