Frontline World

NIGERIA - The Road North, January 2003


THE STORY
Synopsis of "The Road North"

MISS WORLD'S WOES
A Chronicle of the Pageant's Troubles

THOUGHTS OF A FAVORITE SON
Interview With Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka

NIGERIAN WOMEN SPEAK OUT
Five Diverse Voices

FACTS & STATS
Learn More about Nigeria

LINKS & RESOURCES
Sharia Law, Human Rights, the Role of Women

MAP

REACT TO THIS STORY

   


1960s
A Pageant Is Born - 1950s Decade of the Indiscreet Contestant - 1960s Feminists Attack the Pageant - 1970s Miss World’s Facelift - 1980s A Globalized Culture Clash - 1990s The Show Must Go On - 2000s

Decade of the Indiscreet Contestant
Entries in the Miss World 1969 contest pose on a terrace of the British House of Parliament after a tour of the palace
Entries in the Miss World 1969 contest pose on a terrace of the British House of Parliament after a tour of the palace. (AP/Wide World Photos)

Miss World's following in the 1960s grew exponentially after the pageant's television debut in 1959. Along with its growing popularity through the decade, the competition was marked by a series of scandals that put the spotlight on contestants' off-stage lives.

In 1960, Argentina's Norma Gladys Cappagli was threatened with disqualification from Miss World when it was reported that she frequently drank alcohol. Britain's Lesley Langley, crowned Miss World 1965, hit the front page of many tabloids for having posed in the nude. Scandal broke out again four years later when it was leaked that Sweden's Eva Von Ruber-Staier, Miss World 1969, also had shed her clothes in a photo shoot. Both women were spared the shame of being dethroned. But with
Miss India, Reita Faria (center), dons the Miss World cape, scepter and crown after winning the 1966 title.
Miss India, Reita Faria (center), dons the Miss World cape, scepter and crown after winning the 1966 title. Runners-up (l. to r.) are Miss Brazil, Miss Greece, Miss Yugoslavia and Miss Italy. (AP/Wide World Photos)
each successive hint of scandal, pageant organizers and viewers at home were forced to reconcile the real Miss World contestants with the girl-next-door image the competition had tried so hard to package.

The women's movement of the 1960s also rocked Miss World. By the end of the decade, feminists mobilized against the contest. The entire beauty pageant industry faced mounting criticism and stinging mockery. In 1968, the U.S.-based Women's Liberation Front crowned a sheep as Miss America. Other radical women's organizations began following suit, staging mock farm auctions and cattle shows that drew comparisons between the treatment of livestock and the portrayal of women in beauty contests.

NEXT - 1970s Feminists Attack the Pageant

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