The Pageant Formula of Miss Universe 2015

If you follow my writings on Miss Universe, you know that my absolute favorite part is the parade of national costumes. Trump and his minions got with the program this year and showed us the contestants modeling them– not just a picture of them flaunting their version of sexy national dress like last year. Even before the live show the costumes were getting the most press of the event, especially Miss Canada.

Miss Canada national costume 2015

Clearly, it was NOT Miss Jamaica who was robbed at this pageant, it was Miss Canada who failed to win the costume award! That distinction went to Miss Indonesia, who explained (OBVIOUSLY) that the weight of her costume put her over the airline’s weight limit for luggage, but since she won it was all worth it. Which raises the question(s): In what way was it worth it?! Is there a significant cash prize for winning? Even if there was presumably that would go to the cost of the thing itself, which obviously wasn’t cheap. How much do they cost on average? Do designers in countries vie to be able to make these things? How many people does it take to get the contestants into one of these? Can anyone provide some answer, please! In the end it seems like if nothing else this is the adult incarnation of sports wear in child beauty pageants. If you don’t know what I mean, watch an episode or two of Toddlers & Tiaras…

I know some people didn’t like the 3-hour show, but I did. We got a chance to “get to know” the contestants a bit more. Imagine if talent had been included in those three hours. Friends, it could have been epic. Otherwise, we got what we expected from a beauty pageant. As Trump said last week, “It’s the age-old thing; it’s never going to die — magnificently beautiful women…Whether it’s politically correct or not, who cares, it’s a formula that will never die.”

And sure enough we began the pageant with horrible 1980s-style sequined cocktail dresses, awkward shimmies, contestants who look way older than their years. Then of course swimsuit (for the record, I couldn’t get over how swayback Miss Colombia, the eventual winner, was here).

Miss Colombia swayback in swimsuit

One of the odd things about Miss Universe is that in may ways it is tradition-less, beyond the basic pageant features. In this century it is never held in a reliable location, or even time of year (notice that no Miss Universe pageant was even held in the calendar year 2014!). The crown even usually looks different (this year they introduced one that suggests the NYC skyline, the home city for the pageant organization, which raises the question why they never hold it there). I wonder if this is just something that we notice in the US though, since Miss America, by contrast, is so steeped in tradition. It is worthwhile to note that this year Miss Finland, Bea Toivonen, is the daughter of Miss Finland 1985, Marja Kinnunen. When her mother competed 30 years prior that Miss Universe pageant was also held in Miami. Miami has hosted it for years, and Trump owns property there, so I could see this becoming a host site– especially because it is an international city with ease of travel.

Spanish-speaking countries do historically do well at Miss Universe and this year was no exception. Many were surprised by the winner, but they shouldn’t have been because this pageant is notorious for making deals before the actual event (see comments from contestant Miss France here). The Jamaica was robbed meme and the world peace answer USA provided (though I tend to agree with Australia that why Miss USA Nia Sanchez should be asked this is odd, however her smile at end was BEYOND Pageant Patty) got the most press post-pageant. But what has been most interesting to me is the strong political angle still present. The Israel/Lebanon selfie got continued coverage, and I found Miss Ukraine’s final answer politically impassioned and representative of her country. For anyone who doubts that pageants remain relevant culturally, there you go.

Despite the boo-ing and almost anti-climactic ending, the ratings were high. And in case anyone still wonders why the pageant formula will never die, I present this final piece of evidence.

Yes, this is a week late, written on Superbowl Sunday– the hypermasculine analog to the hyperfeminine? Our family has been wiped out by not one, but two, different viruses so I am finally catching up!

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