The Miss World contest, which has been an annual feature since 1951, will no longer feature a swimsuit round in the competition, the organisation’s chairwoman Julia Morley has said, reports dailymail.co.uk. “I don’t need to see women walking up and down in bikinis. It doesn’t do anything for the woman. We don’t want to make them feel like they are walking bodies,” Morley said in an interview with Elle magazine.
The emphasis will be on brains and personality over physical beauty. Former beauty queens from India unanimously welcomed the decision. Dia Mirza, who won the title years ago, says: “It’s a wonderful decision. While fitness must remain a healthy choice that a woman makes, it does not necessarily define who she is. These platforms have come to the realisation that if they are to give the world a goodwill ambassador, then a swimwear round does not have to be a qualifying factor.”
Pooja Chopra, who won the ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ award at Miss World 2009, also approved of the decision. “I’d say this move is great… it takes away the pressure of standing in front of an audience of 6,000 wearing a bikini. In India, we don’t really have a culture of wearing bikinis and strolling on the beach very often. With this move, I feel contestants will feel more comfortable and the message of ‘beauty with a purpose’ will be sent out loud and clear.”
Rakul Preet, former Miss India finalist, now a successful Tollywood actress, was happy too. She appreciated the decision. “It’s a very good move to drop the bikini round. I always wondered why this round was there when the contest is not about finding the next super model but to make someone a winner who would do good to society.”
Though Shilpa Reddy, designer and former Mrs India, feels the swimsuit round helps the contestant shrug off inhibitions, she suggests it should be held behind close doors where it’s just the contestants and panel of judges present. “When it comes to beauty pageants, it’s all about owning your body from head to toe. Swimsuit rounds are helpful because they make you feel confident about yourself and your body.
“During the Mrs India pageant that I entered in 2003, we had a swimsuit shoot that took place at Mauritius. It was Maureen Wadia’s idea to keep it as a shoot, she wanted us to break free from our shells and be comfortable in our bodies. It was not a round where we would have to walk in front of thousands of people… and for that I am grateful because it can get uncomfortable for the contestants because not everybody in the crowd is in the right frame of mind.”
She continued, “We could have the swimsuit round, but it can be just for the contestants and the judges behind closed doors, contestants don’t have to parade around the stage in front of numerous people half naked!”