Come through, Peru! Beauty pageant contestants share gender violence stats instead of body sizes
Through global systems of law, policy, and practice, women and girls all over the world experience oppression. They are often attacked, kidnapped, abused, underpaid in their professions, willfully under-educated and personally belittled. At the same time, gender socialization can include pageantry, beauty politics and conformity with restrictive physical standards. Women are taught to be attractive but palatable, politically aware but not overpowering.
Because of this history of pageantry, some folks in Peru were likely caught unaware a few days ago. During the 2018 Miss Peru pageant, Peruvian beauty queens used a televised competition to collaboratively speak up about gender violence. The contestants declined an opportunity to recite their bust-waist-hip numbers. Instead, they addressed intimate partner violence, human trafficking, street harassment and more, as if to say these are the most relevant measurements.
“My name is Camila Canicoba,” the first contestant to speak said. “I represent the department of Lima. My measurements are: 2,202 cases of murdered women reported in the last nine years in my country.”
Romina Lozana, who shared the statistic that 3,114 women in Peru were victims of trafficking until 2014, won the crown.
“I think that the fact that you are looking at your regional representative, at the queen of your department, giving open and real figures about what happens in our country is alarming,” contest organizer Jessica Newton, who was crowned Miss Peru in 1987, told AFP. “Unfortunately there are many women who do not know, and think they are isolated cases.”
As Vox noted, the hashtag #MisMedidasSon – Spanish for “my measurements are” – trended in Peru. This disruption of pageantry business-as-usual highlighted the reach of women who organize and work together in addressing gender violence. Just as the violences against women are multi-faceted and ever-present, conversations about and creative ways to resist these violences should also continue to occur.