Last Saturday, a new miss France was elected and my friend and I stumbled on the channel during our sleepover. This election, as well as many others, is watched every year by a huge part of the inhabitants of the country and I never thought much about what it meant and what was wrong with it until last weekend.

When the show appeared on television, this was my view: 30 women wearing the same outfit, posing the same and with a, too big to be real, smile; people all over the country judging them including the ones right in front of them, whispering to each other “she’s pretty.”I have nothing against calling someone pretty but, to me, electing one out of 30 women, all elected out of thousands of candidates, to be considered “the most pretty woman in the country” is insulting to the rest of them and, truly, to any other woman because it amounts to saying that the other ones are not as beautiful as the one elected and I do not think that is true.

But if you think there is nothing wrong in electing a “most beautiful” woman, let’s just take a look at the criteria you need to meet to even think of applying to the competition. In France, at least, you need :

  • to measure minimum 170 cm (1’6″) without heels
  • not to have any tattoo or piercing
  • not to have had plastic surgery

I strongly believe that every woman, regardless of size, height or anything else truly is beautiful and that you cannot rank them because everyone is different and beautiful in their own way and thank god they are!

Now, you are going to say “they are also judged on their intelligence” and I cannot deny this because, yes, they are. However, can we truly say that they’re equally judged on their ideas and capacities than on their physical appearance? No, we cannot. In fact, the public is, mainly, the one electing the miss and they are not given the result of the score the latter has taken or what she has said during the interview she had with the judges, a couple days before the show. And even though the very last ones have to answer a question live, more than half of them are judged, uniquely, on their appearance.

There is one more thing I need to discuss: categorization. I would say it is less obvious in the United States but I have noticed the misses of color participating in the election of Miss France are, almost only, those who come from Overseas France. I saw a video of miss Ile-de-France (the region of Paris) of 2016 who explains her story. Her parents, Mauritians, emigrated to France 30 years ago and she grew up in a relatively poor part of the region but was given the chance of her life when she got accepted into Sciences Po, one of France’s biggest school. She participated in the election of Miss France 2017 to have a voice in order to share her story and make a difference. However, the fact that she was a woman of color was badly received by the audience who posted racist comments such as “What is that paki doing here?” or “Miss Ile-de-France is the daughter of a seller of hot chestnuts”. She admits she thinks people would not have reacted so badly if she had been the miss of an overseas region and points out the unfairness of being disliked and attacked for her origins.

She also states that when she was young, the people in her neighborhood considered her as ugly because she was thin and did not have shapes but, when she moved to Paris itself, she was suddenly considered “pretty” for wearing a size 34. Meggy Pyaneeandee says “Eventually, the physical does not have any importance because depending on your district, you can be very ugly or very beautiful”. She adds “That’s crazy talk. Being beautiful does not mean much, at the end, what matters is truly one’s personality and vibe” and I think she could not have said it in a better way

In the morning, I saw that some guy from my high school posted this Snapchat story of him ranking the different misses and I realized that these his ranking of these women was even worse. They, indeed, teach young boys that it is okay for them to rate and choose women on their physical appearance over their character or personality, which, I hope, seems alright for none of you.

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