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Beauty Pageants History: The Beginning and Beyond

Appreciating beauty is inert in every human. So it is not surprising why the history of beauty pageants is traced down to the antiquity of time. It was the day when people finally realized that beautiful women can feed the hunger of naive sight. Both men and women are mesmerized with awe when a beauty passes by. It is like seeing heaven and experiencing the ultimate visual bliss. But a lot of women can give that kind of exciting experience. Who is the most beautiful, then? The argument started and beauty pageants have been held since then.

The Beginning of Beauty PageantsBeauty Pageants

Beauty pageants were entertainment in the old city of Troy. The jury included the great minds of the city like warriors, public speakers, philosophers, poets, actors and sculptors.
Ancient China also had special rules and a unique way of selecting the most beautiful. Even the strict Islamic Ottoman Empire enjoyed this entertainment with beauty pageants where the most beautiful wives were selected.

The First Beauty Queen

It was in 1854 when the first beauty pageant in America was carried on, but this was closed down due to public protests. It was in 1880s when the modern beauty pageants were started. Specifically in 1888, the first woman with the ‘beauty queen’ title was crowned in Spa, Belgium. Contestants had to send their photos and a short description about themselves to join the competition. Only 21 were selected for the final judging, which was a formal event attended by men in tuxedos and women in long gowns. The selected beauties were secluded from the general public, and they had to ride in a closed carriage and live in a separate building without access to the outside world. An 18-year-old Creole won the very first ‘beauty queen’ title.

Let’s Call Her “Miss America”

The example of Belgium was followed by other countries, most specially by Germany and USA. In USA, it was 1921 when the first ‘Miss America,’ 16-year-old Margaret Gorman, was crowned. The event should have been known as the National Beauty Tournament if not for a local newsman who exclaimed, “Let’s call her ‘Miss America!’”

In 1922, Katherine Campbell won the Miss America title. She won it again on the following year. So in 1923, a new rule was presented—a woman should not win a title more than once.

Statewide Beauty Pageants

Before hailing Miss America, every state in the country had to choose a representative through their state-wide beauty pageants like Miss Florida, Miss Texas and Miss California for their respective states. Miss America is a scholarship pageant, though. Unlike its famous modern match, Miss USA, it is not a preliminary to an international event.

Nowadays, winning a state-wide beauty contest is a big leap towards a more glorious crown—maybe a national crown, or even better, an international title. There are at least 24 national pageants in the USA. But the most publicized and popular aside from Miss America and Miss USA are Miss World United States, Miss United States International and Miss Earth United States. These are the preliminaries to even more glorious international competitions.

Worldwide Beauty Contests

Miss USA will represent the nation to Miss Universe, which has been a popular international beauty contest since 1952. There are, so far, seven Miss Universe winners from USA.

The long-time rival of this Trump-owned contest is Miss World, which was formed in 1951. Miss World United States is held to choose the country’s representative for this event. And so far, there are three Miss World winners from USA.

In 1960, Miss International was formed in Tokyo, the same year Miss United States International was formed. At least three Miss International title holders are from USA.

Miss World is the youngest among the major beauty pageants. It was just formed in 2001 and is more environment-focused. USA chooses the representative for this through Miss Earth United States. So far, USA has never won a title.

The mere participation in a beauty pageant is already a great achievement that any contestant can be proud of. It overcomes fear and shows confidence and self-esteem among candidates. Winning is just a bonus. After all, beauty is a very subjective matter. And the different beauty pageants aim to define that subjectivity differently.

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