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Right to contest

You have to stay true to yourself whether competing in a pageant like Miss World Organisation or just in everyday life. You have to be who you truly are... said Alexandria Mills, Miss World from the United States in 2010.

Right to contest

Smrite Bhatia



Mona

You have to stay true to yourself whether competing in a pageant like Miss World Organisation or just in everyday life. You have to be who you truly are... said Alexandria Mills, Miss World from the United States in 2010. Nine years on, ‘staying true’ gains a new momentum as Miss Ukraine Veronika Didusenko decides to sue Miss World Organisation for snatching her title only because she is a mother.

The ‘bikini round’ denied and dusted in 2014, Miss Spain Angela Ponce becoming the first transgender woman to compete in Miss Universe Pageant year last, Victoria Secret show shut down last month — fashion industry wants to be more inclusive and progressive, so why can’t a mother hold a title? 

In total support

Says Samaira Sandhu, former beauty queen and actress, “Beauty with brains being the motto, what’s the ground for being single and not a mother?” She truly supports Veronika in her fight. “A mother is the strongest form of womanhood, she being denied a pageant for having a son is not a discourse that befits the 21st century,” says Karuna Singh, Gladrags Megamodel Hunt 2016. “The fashion industry is waking up to celebrating beauty in all shapes, colours and sizes. They no more have Victoria Secret show, so to deny Veronika her crown is not justified.” 

It still breaks Karuna’s heart that she couldn’t take part in Miss India contest, as she is just 5 feet 4 inches in height; the minimum required being 5 feet 6 inches. “What proves that shorter women or married women or mothers have less beauty or brains? Give them an open field to contest and let the best take home the crown,” she says.   

Supporting these girls is Krishna Salak Goku, Man of the World India, “Imagine a mother winning the world crown; how empowering will that be?” Even for male pageants one needs to be single, but he had a few fellow contestants who were fathers. “While everyone has the right to chase their dreams, having a relationship or kids is equally significant aspect of life. About time we did away with traditional rules.”

Says Miss Grand India 2018 Meenakshi Chaudhary, “The society has moved ever since the pageant was founded in 1951, with trans-genders becoming part of contests; this one could be another move in the right direction.” 

The flip side

On the other hand, some feel that rules must be given due respect. “As the pageant is Miss World, the rules are quite clear to all the contestants from the very beginning. One has to fulfil all the criteria,” says Vanya Mishra, Femina Miss India World 2012. “If one is married, one can enter the Mrs World pageant instead of Miss World. Just like you need a basic level of education for a particular job, it is the same for this contest,” she says. 

Smrite Bhatia, VG Mrs India 2019, seconds her opinion. “Being part of one pageant I know that there are options – two of the contestants at VG Mrs India were single mothers.”

Marc Robinson, who has worked closely with Miss India pageant for seven years straight, says “While I am all for empowering women, rules are rules. Ever since it was founded, Miss World contest has grown exponentially. Maybe Veronika issue makes the organisers wake up, but still it remains a privately-funded pageant and till then rules must be followed.”

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