Stick-thin, Stripper shoes, and Slick bodies: My Random Reflections on Miss Universe 2014

It might be because I am 30+ weeks pregnant and I was so tired after a dinner out with my husband I fell asleep before it even fully aired (full disclosure: given the time change and tape delay I actually looked up the results before I even went to dinner), but I found this year’s production pretty boring, and filled with unnaturally skinny competitors (USA excepted, who actually looked muscular and fit in her swimsuit).

The Miss Universe 2014 Pageant didn’t have to be boring. Before it even took place it generated quite a bit of controversy thanks to its Moscow location and Russia’s new, formal anti-gay legislation (Andy Cohen dropped out as host and I kept hoping one of the women would make a statement about it during the event). The Pageant could have been even bigger in the USA considering the reigning Miss Universe, Olivia Culpo, was Miss USA. But besides the usual camp it was boring and the ratings, I believe, were the worst ever; only .9 of adults 18-49 watched, way down from last year.

One bright spot for anyone who knows how much I *love* the national costumes was that during the Parade of Nations each contestant’s costume was pictured alongside them as they did their live intro. Anderson Cooper did a pretty funny send-up of the costumes earlier in the week (chilis on butts and man babies were my favorite parts, in addition to his giggles), but I can’t believe he didn’t mention France with the Eiffel Tower on her head! During the Parade I couldn’t help but notice the stand-out hair of Canada (like an anchor woman stuck her finger in a socket), Slovenia (a truly unbelievable bottle shade of blonde), and Switzerland (a funky short do that we got to see again as she made Top 16). Also making Top 16 was Nicaragua, who won the National Costume award!

The 16 came out of 86 contestants, so making the cut is a big deal. The one woman who I was truly surprised didn’t make it, based on looks and some of the pre-pageant hype and stories, was Miss Israel. In every shot of her she looked stunning, so I wonder what happened… The other thing I noticed right away when the Top 16 was announced was that Miss India was so light-skinned, lending credence to many of the claims that the reigning Miss America, Nina Davuluri, wouldn’t be considered beautiful in India because of her darker skin.

As usual swimsuit kicked things off (along with the usual somewhat odd musical guests). I hated the tacky close-ups of body parts at the start of the number. Also, the aforementioned oiled and too-thin bodies. I also disliked the “fur” wraps the women wore out and carried with them. It’s already so strange to see them in high heels (and “stripper heels” refer to the platforms built on to many to add additional height, which are even now favored in evening gown), so why add a fur wrap while in a bikini?! The eventual winner, Venezuela, was especially well-oiled and thin.

I was impressed that Olivia Culpo came out in the million dollar suit. While she dd keep most of herself covered with the wrap, I can’t imagine an outgoing Miss America putting on a swimsuit more than a year after her win, so kudos to her (even if her white eye make-up/concealer around her eyes was distracting). Culpo is a true beauty though– I thought Ukraine looked a lot like her and expected her in Top 5, but perhaps their similar look explains why she didn’t make the final cut.

The final cut featured three our of five women from South America. The final questions were predictably awkward, but nothing terrible happened. For me Venezuela’s Gabriela Isler was a standout— especially with her neon white teeth and long-sleeved gown– so I wasn’t surprised when she won.

2D9652267-tdy-miss-venezuela-131109-04.blocks_desktop_large by Pavel Golovkin for AP

I think USA/UK canceled one another out from making Top 5, which was too bad as UK was a great contestant this year. Some women seemed especially unhappy to not make a cut at all; for instance, every time I saw Azerbaijan in the background she was scowling. Then again, the Top 5 seemed happy. Each woman clapped for herself when her name was announced as a runner-up!

The end to the Pageant was extraordinarily strange though. Here it is in its entirety:

The winner not hearing her name was edited out of the US broadcast, but the crown falling stayed in.

The one other thing to note from this Pageant was that on TWO occasions one of the co-hostesses commented on women being “former tomboys.” The implication was always that they were unattractive then and only later became beautiful. This is of course ridiculous. You can be a tomboy and be beautiful as well. And in the US this is usually seen as a good thing. But perhaps the focus on beauty and not athleticism/fitness is why so many of this year’s contestants were absolutely too thin. Let’s hope for better next year, wherever Miss Universe is held.

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