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Alternative beauty pageants gain popularity

Every year new forms of beauty queen competitions are organised. “Miss” titles can these days be earned for virtues other than the traditional concept of beauty. Having attitude and your own style are now seen as traits worthy of winners.

Leena Luuri
Miss Gay Finland Leena Luuri Image: Maija Tuunila / Yle

The Miss Finland competition no longer generates as much interest as it once did. The lifestyle TV channel Liv claims that coverage of the event attracted around half a million viewers this year, as opposed to more than a million in previous years.

Meanwhile, in recent years the number and popularity of alternative beauty pageants has increased. The idea behind the new generation of pageants is to promote more diverse ideals regarding the nature of beauty. The emphasis is more on the attitude and convictions of competitors than on traditional notions of attractiveness.

Rocking the pageant boat

The most recent addition to the swathe of summer “Miss” contests is Helsinki’s “Miss Rock” competition. According to the event’s organiser, Jonna Sanberg, the contest was borne out of the exclusion of more “rock-minded” women from the traditional beauty pageant and fashion modeling circuits.

Sanberg says that tattooed women, ones with body piercings and shaved headed ladies all feature in the competition.

“The competitors in this contest are, in my opinion, beautiful women,” says Sanberg.

Meanwhile, the Pin-Up Finland competition is being organised for the third time. Points are granted on the weight of 50s style and a fearless attitude. The race’s organiser, Olivia Rouge, claims that the competition has received good feedback and has encouraged people to boldly embrace their own style. According to her, achieving classic pin-up style is possible for all, regardless of age or size.

”Although this contest is essentially a beauty contest, I do not feel that it’s the only thing on which to ride to victory,” Rouge states.

Gay and bi-beautiful

Finland's first Miss Gay Finland, Leena Luuri, was crowned on 26 June, while the Mr. Gay Finland contest was held for the fourth time this year.

“In the gay and bisexual competitions, brains count more than appearance,” says the freshly selected Mr. Gay Finland, Aleks Vehkala.

Leena Luuri says that when she was little she never thought she could win a Miss Contest. According to her, it’s amazing that she can win a contest just by being herself.

“It’s important that there’s such a variety of pageants for different people, and that no one needs to conform to the mold,” says Luuri.

While the traditional pageants are still somewhat popular, at least on Facebook the Miss Finland page has the same amount of likes as Miss Pin-Up Finland, Miss Rock and Mr. Gay Finland.

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