The annual Miss Universe pageant has been known for celebrating the most beautiful women in the world. While the primary focus of the event is on physical beauty, there has always been an effort to showcase the talent, intelligence and social awareness of the contestants. The 2011 pageant, held in Brazil, offered an even further divergence from what many may consider to be the typical definition of beauty with the crowning of an African woman, Leila Lopes from Angola. Lopes said in the interview portion that she would change nothing about her physical appearance because she loved herself and had inner beauty. This direct, seemingly unconventional response is said to have played a role in her victory.
Lopes was seen by the judges as being the most charming contestant of that evening. She really embodied the natural, inner beauty that they were looking for. In fact, in the days after the pageant, a judge said that they were told to favour candidates who looked natural over those who seemed to have had a little enhancement done. Did this really reflect an objective standard? Are we now supposed to think that a woman who undergoes hair loss treatment or receives HCG Injections for a weight problem is automatically less beautiful than one who does not?
The point about an objective standard of beauty might be rendered moot when you consider how subjective the topic of beauty is. It cannot be denied however that a woman with smooth skin and shiny hair will always be considered more beautiful, but this may simply be an issue of looking healthy. With regards to pageants, a tall, long-legged woman with a svelte physique and proportionally-sized breasts and hips are specific characteristics that judges always look for. It is even better if that kind of body can be achieved without any medical intervention.
The beauty of a woman's form is most apparent, obviously, in the swimsuit competition portion. Today's pageants require the contestants to wear two-piece swimsuits, whereas in the past, they mostly wore one-piece bathing suits. You have to have a literally perfectly-shaped body. Thinner is not always better. Third runner up Miss Philippines has a naturally stick-thin body, but she had to shape up by working out in order to enhance some of her "assets."
Miss USA, who made the top 16 but not the top 10, might have been singled out for being an example of an "enhanced beauty." The reed-thin redhead seemed like she went on a crash diet for the pageant, but what probably made things worse for her, in the eyes of the judges, was the fact that she changed her hair colour from its original blonde.
Beauty is a largely a matter of personal and cultural taste, but as the world becomes more and more connected, common attitudes often change in sync throughout the world. Today, a black woman can be the most beautiful woman and an Asian woman can be the sexiest. The important thing today, it seems, is that she should be born that way.