What does it take to win Miss Universe?

Starting in 1952 as a local beauty pageant, Miss Universe has certainly evolved from a
“bathing beauty” pageant to an international competition with beautiful girls from all around the world clamouring for the famed title of “Miss Universe”. Not only has the pageant changed in size and popularity, but it has also evolved in style. Skin tone, ethnicity and age have all varied greatly over the past 63 Miss Universe pageants. For example, the first title holder ever was Armi Kuusela, a blonde haired Finnish beauty of only 17 years. Compare this to this year’s winner, Pia Wurtzbach, a stunning brunette Pilipino who holds the title at the oldest age in the competitions history – 26. Being an American based competition, you would assume that the winners would be the typical European/Caucasian girls with mainly blonde hair and blue eyes. However, this is not the case.

In the entire history of Miss Universe, only 12 winners have been blonde, (52, 54, 55, 61, 66,
75, 80, 81 83, 84, 89, 04) and the rest brunette or dark (including one redhead!). In fact, the
last typical “blonde haired blue eyed” winner was over ten years ago – Miss Universe
Australia, Jennifer Hawkins; before that there had been a 13 year gap between Hawkins and last blonde winner Miss Universe Netherland Angela Visser. Since then we have only seen dark hair and dark skin taking the stage front and centre as winners of Miss Universe. Not only has hair colour been a changing factor, but height has also been constantly changing throughout the competition. 5’8” is the most common height for competitors with 19 measuring at that height. Two competitors tie for shortest winner with 5’4” both, and the tallest winner ever measuring in at a leggy 6’1”, closely followed by two winners at 6’0”.

Hair colour and height aside, ethnicity is another changing factor in the Miss Universe pageant. Many winners are now of mixed backgrounds and don’t look like the “typical girl” from their home country. Take for example Miss Universe USA. Out of 8 winners, only two have been blonde and the last three winners – Olivia Culpo, Brook Lee and Chelsi Smith – are all from mixed backgrounds. Not the typical Americana girl you would expect, with Korean, Hawaiian, Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese, English, French, Irish, African and Italian genes between just the three! This is a sign of progression from the competition which clearly has a long history of inclusion and equality. As mentioned, the USA has held the title for Miss Universe 8 times. Next up in Venezuela with 7 times, followed by Puerto Rico with 5 wins. There must be something special about these countries that churns out such beautiful and talented young women? For young women in Venezuela particularly, winning the crown is a way to get out of a tough situation to a better life and take their families with them. For this reason, preparation for the contest is key. Venezuelan “miss factories”  have been set up to coach girls from very young ages how to be, essentially, beautiful. However in a country where beauty is superficial, as admitted by former Miss Venezuela Debora Menicucci in an interview with ELLE magazine, factories are nothing short of dangerous. Cosmetic surgery mishaps and dramatic weight loss, plus strict diets and routines can be very detrimental for young girls. It is clear that this method works for Venezuela and gets their contestants to the front line for Miss Universe, but at what cost? Maybe the České Misses will have to come up with a new technique similar to, but not quite so extreme, as the “beauty factories” to get the edge on the other countries contestants. Of course, following the trends that have emerged in past years winners could be helpful. An obvious tip would be to read all the entry requirements and not lie or break the rules, which could result in the winner being stripped of her crown after winning. It takes a lot of training to become Miss Universe, from walking in heels, answering questions appropriately, and of course staying in perfect shape. Many girls employ coaches in the years before the competition to prepare them for these factors. On The pagean planet  there are hundreds of hints and tips to get you closer to becoming the next Miss Universe. Since 1995 there has been a contestant every year in Miss Universe from Czech Republic, be it from the national České Miss (since 2005) or Miss České Republiky (1995-2004). Though Miss Czech Republic has been placed in the top ten and top 15 category three times each, that still leaves 16 years unplaced, and a lack of presence in the top 5 category. Our České Miss 2016, Andrea Bezděková, is already on her way to being a hot contender simply because of her brunette shade. We can only wait and see if Andrea has the other qualities that the judges are looking for in Miss Universe 2016.

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