This Peruvian Beauty Pageant Took an Unexpected (but Amazing!) Turn

This Peruvian Beauty Pageant Took an Unexpected (but Amazing!) Turn

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We’ve never seen a beauty pageant quite like this one! Contestants competing for the title of Miss Peru 2018 took to the stage Sunday night to put a human face on the country’s gender-based violence problem, delivering statistic after horrifying statistic about violence against women in Peru.

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During an introductory portion of the program in which pageant participants publicly announce their physical measurements (including bust, waist, and hip size) to the world, contestants cut out all the beauty BS and recited facts about violence against women in their native country instead, proving true beauty is more than skin deep.

One by one, the women delivered jaw-dropping statistics about the scourge of violence against women in Peru and its many forms, including sexual assault, street harassment, domestic violence, and sex trafficking.

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“My name is Camila Canicoba,” said the evening’s first contestant, “and I represent the department of Lima. My measurements are: 2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country.”

“My name is Bélgica Guerra and I represent Chincha. My measurements are: 65 percent of university women [are] assaulted by their partners.”

“My name is Juana Acevedo and my measurements are: More than 70 percent of women in our country are victims of street harassment.”

“I represent the constitutional province of Callao, and my measurements are: 3,114 women victims of trafficking up until 2014,” said Romina Lozano, later crowned Miss Peru 2018.

The powerful protest inspired Twitter users in Peru to create the hashtag #MisMedidasSon — “my measurements are” — which began trending almost immediately.

But the pageant’s amazing social justice programming did not end there. Later, as contestants modeled swimwear looks, images of newspaper stories of murdered and assaulted women flashed behind them on a large screen.

And during the competition’s final round, the question-and-answer portion, the remaining contestants were asked what laws they would change to stop gender-based violence in Peru.

The ugly truth of Peru’s country-wide gender-based violence problem has gained more and more exposure in recent years. In August 2016, 50,000 protestors took to the streets of Lima to march against gender violence in Peru, organizing on Twitter under the hashtag #niunamenos.

Between 2009 and 2015 alone, some 700 women were murdered in Peru, according to Human Rights Watch.

What’s more, a study by the United Nations found over half of Peruvian women will experience severe domestic violence in her lifetime, more than any other country under the U.N. banner.

But pageant organizer Jessica Newton hopes to flip the script on violence against women in Peru. The former Miss Peru told BuzzFeed that the choice to dedicate this year’s Miss Peru event to gendered violence was made to empower women.

Said Newton, “Everyone who does not denounce and everyone who does not do something to stop this is an accomplice.”

Kitty Lindsay
Kitty Lindsay

Kitty Lindsay is a Ms. blogger and a regular weekend contributor at Hello Giggles. Her writing as appeared in Ms. magazine and on the Feminist Majority Foundation blog, The Establishment, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Theatre Is Easy. Follow her on Twitter! @KittyLindsayLA