The Miss Peru 2018 beauty pageant this weekend wasn’t just about the stunning looks of the women on stage. Instead of giving out their body’s measurements, each contestant quoted a statistic about women’s rights in their country and made a bold feminist statement.
The contestants approached the microphone and stated facts such as:
“My name is Camila Canicoba, and I represent the department of Lima. My measurements are: 2,202 cases of murdered women reported in the last nine years in my country.”
“My name is Melody Calderon, and I represent La Libertad. My figures are: 61 percent of attacks on girls under five years old are committed by people close to the family.”
As the women spoke, images of women who had been murdered or assaulted flashed on the screen behind them.
As of 2014, 36 percent of women in Peru will experience physical and/or sexual intimate abuse by a partner in her lifetime, according to the UN Women Global Database on Violence Against Women. That one-in-three statistic doesn’t take into account the countless acts of violence women experience outside of the home.
Jessica Newton, the pageant’s organizer told BuzzFeed that in her eyes, “everyone who does not denounce and everyone who does not do something to stop this is an accomplice.”
Many people online supported contestants using their platform to focus on something more important than physical appearance.
One Twitter user called the women “courageous”:
Well done, courageous women. Say they want "World Peace" and mean it.
— Patricia Hayden (@trishbhayden) October 31, 2017
Now this is what I call a vital statistic! Bravo Ladies, Bravo 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾
— Sandie Okoro (@SandieOkoro) November 1, 2017
However, the former editor of a women’s magazine in Peru named Lizzy Cantú questioned the delivery of the statistics. “I guess what is a bit problematic is that you are still using women’s measurements—bodies—to sell a message,” she told Vox. “But I do think that some messages need the widest available distribution.”
Still, the pageant’s organizer underscored that the delivery should not matter, because the message is more important. “Women can walk out naked if they want to. Naked. It’s a personal decision,” Newton told BuzzFeed. “If I walk out in a bathing suit I am just as decent as a woman who walks out in an evening dress.”
What do you think about the beauty pageant contestants sharing statistics about violence against women instead of their measurements? Let us know in the comments!