The Evolution of the Miss Universe Pageant


Sidney Marenkovic, Junior Staff Writer

As an event that has been around for 67 years, the Miss Universe Pageant has continued to grow in popularity. This pageant serves the purpose of celebrating women of all cultures around the world, and focuses attention on issues that many women face as a whole. This event strives to empower women and encourage job nontraditional job opportunities. Senior Chloe Record states, “I feel that the Miss Universe pageant should be based on who has done the most for other people or around the world, or who has made the biggest impact.” The main purpose of the Miss Universe pageant is to enable young women to find new power in a world that, in the past, discouraged empowering women of diverse cultures. The Miss Universe pageant website states: “MISS UNIVERSE®, MISS USA® and MISS TEEN USA® provide the approximately 10,000 women who participate annually an international platform to effect positive change personally, professionally and philanthropically as inspirational leaders and role models.”  So it seems that the pageant has come a long way from its initial design which focused on superficial appearance and talent only.

According to online sources, the Miss Universe Pageant originated after the winner of the 1951 Miss America pageant, Yolanda Betbeze, refused to pose in a swimsuit photoshoot for Catalina Swimwear. A California clothing company, Pacific Knitting Mills, wanted to start a new pageant as a publicity stunt to compete against the already established Miss America pageant. The first ever Miss Universe Pageant occurred in June of 1952. This pageant took place in Long Beach, California, with only 30 contestants competing for the Miss Universe title. Among these contestants, a young woman from Finland, Armi Kuusela, was crowned Miss Universe 1952.

Throughout history, the meaning of beauty pageants has evolved into something with  much more depth and a female-friendly purpose. Senior Rylie Campbell stated: “I believe the purpose of the Miss Universe pageant is not only to find and recognize a beautiful girl, but to also identify one with good intentions who shows great leadership and motivation.” Today, creating a society that women of all types feel comfortable in is the main goal of the Miss Universe pageant, which also opens doors to job opportunities that used to not seem accessible to women; this evolution makes confidence and worldly purpose the new beautiful.