The Miss World pageant is the oldest surviving major international beauty pageant. It was created in the United Kingdom by Eric Morley in 1951. Since Morley’s death in 2000, his wife, Julia Morley, has co-chaired the competition.
Along with the Miss Universe and Miss Earth pageants it is one of the most publicised beauty contests in the world.
Miss World has gotten its fair share of negative publicity over the years from feminist groups world wide. Most complaints have been about the swimwear event of the pageant. So if you were looking forward to seeing just how curvaceous Miss Tahiti is in her “teeny-weenie” bikini forget it.
It appears that the local population has a lot more swing in the area of “women’s rights” than the feminist groups ever had. The local hard-line Muslim groups have managed to achieve something that the “libbers” have wanted to do for years.
To get the pageant to ditch the swimsuit competition.
This year the more than 130 contestants will be wearing the tradition Bali long sarongs, instead of the “barely there” bikinis that have been a historical and traditional part of the pageant, at least according to the official broadcaster and local organiser RCTI spokesperson, Adjie S. Soeratmadjie.
The pageant will be held Sept. 28 on the resort island of Bali and in Sentul, an area near the capital, Jakarta. Interestingly enough, Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country.
Soeratmadjie said, “There will no bikini in this year’s Miss World pageant to respect our traditional customs and values.” The RCTI rep then added that the London-based Miss World Organization is on board with the decision. “This is a sensitive issue in Indonesia. We have discussed it since last year and they have agreed,” he added.
The chairwoman of the Miss World Organization, Julia Morley, confirmed that none of the 137 contestants would wear a bikini. She said, “Indonesia is designing for us a very beautiful one-piece beachwear, and I’m very happy with them.
Talking to the Associated Press via phone from London, she said instead the pageant will include a
special beachwear fashion show. `Morley also said, “I don’t think Indonesia is the only country that has that culture. But we like to work in the manner respectful to every country, and I cannot see why when you go to somebody’s country you should not behave respectfully.”
The pageant began in the 1950s and the first Miss World winner was actually crowned in a two-piece bathing suit. It will be interesting to see just how much this “specially designed” sarong will, or won’t, reveal. Soeratmadjie said the sarong would be made creatively and designed specifically for the event.
Back in those days, the Miss World competition quite obviously did not say no to bikinis and yes to sarongs. In those days not too many folks even knew what a sarong was. Somehow, getting crowned in a sarong doesn’t seem very likely in the 1950’s.
Controversy over the pageant has been mounting in Indonesia, which has a reputation as a tolerant, pluralist society that respects freedom of expression. Unfortunately this “freedom of expression” doesn’t include the freedom to wear a bikini during the pageant.
Clerics of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, or MUI, said they would send a letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to demand that the beauty pageant be canceled. Murki Aji, a cleric from the West Java province’s MUI branch said, “That contest is just an excuse to show women’s body parts that should remain covered. It’s against Islamic teachings.”
We are glad he said something, because we never thought that the Bikini parade was there just for us to gawk at their “women’s parts. I’ve got news for the cleric, women’s libbers have been saying the same thing since the 1970’s.
Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, a hardline Islamic group, said they plan to stage a protest and have called for the competition to be moved elsewhere. Apparently most Muslims in Indonesia, are moderate, but a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years. Vocal enough that they can rule what the 240 million some odd denizens can and cannot see.
They have pushed through controversial laws — including an anti-pornography bill — and have been known to attack anything perceived as blasphemous, from transvestites and bars to “deviant” religious sects.
Even Lady Gaga and her monsters had to admit defeat and the “left-field” singer had cancel her sold-out concert in Indonesia in May following threats by Islamic hard-liners, who called her a “devil worshipper.”
Even Jennifer Lopez, who just last week outraged families in England with her very revealing costume, was forced to tone down her sexy outfits and dance moves during a show in Jakarta last December.
So those of you who were planning on tuning into the Miss World competition for the bikinis, you’ll have no luck at all, now if you want to see the sarong competition, aka “beachwear” competition well, yes, you’ll be fine. Time will tell if the change will actually satisfy the hardliners or not, it could be a case of, “so long sarong,” next year.
By Michael Smith