- The application form requests contestants to not undergo any major physical change after being accepted into the competition, else they will have to pay a fine worth €5,000
The famed Miss France pageant has been sued by a feminist activist group and three applicants, who alleged discriminatory requirements for qualifying.
Osez le féminisme (Dare to be feminist) has filed an appeal against the pageant’s parent company Endemol Production. The group said that Miss France contestants perform a work service and should be protected from prejudice under French employment law, reported CNN.
Any discrimination against employees on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, family situation or genetic characteristics is considered unlawful in France.
The beauty pageant reportedly is looking for candidates who are at least five-foot-five and had never been married or had children, as seen in an applicant form for 2021.
Other disqualifiers include wearing weaves, hair extensions, having tattoos or smoking. The application further asks clothing size. It requests contestants to not undergo any major physical change after being accepted into the competition, else they will have to pay a fine worth €5,000.
In a tweet, Alyssa Ahrabare, the head of Osez le féminisme, criticised the pageant “who exploit women for profit and feeds stereotypes hindering equality.”
“The competition rules are discriminatory: marital status, age, attitudes, choices of women, everything is subject to injunctions from another time! Candidates must be single and respect the rules of “elegance”, stop these sexist rules!” she added.
There have been other instances of sexism in beauty pageants earlier. Miss Papua New Guinea 2019 Lucy Maino, for instance, was stripped of her crown after a TikTok video of her twerking went viral. The dance was criticised as “inappropriate”.
Around the same time this year, Mrs Sri Lanka 2021 Pushpika De Silva grabbed headlines as her crown was snatched by the 2019 winner, just moments after her victory. Caroline Jurie, who won the pageant in 2019 said De Silva could not be awarded the title because she was divorced.
In 2019, the Miss India pageant too received flak for perpetuating colourism after a collage of the finalists went viral in which all appeared to be fair-skinned with similar features.
In 2018, Miss Massachusetts competition organised a skit that mocked the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, as per a People report.
Following this, a contestant, who is a victim of gang rape herself, announced her resignation on Instagram. The Miss Massachusetts Board of Directors, however, apologised later.