The Miss Italia beauty contest has banned bikinis in favour of swimsuits.

Moral Police shared this link – Miss Italy contest bans bikinis.

The Miss Italia beauty contest has banned bikinis in favour of swimsuits. The organisers said the move would “add a sober element” to the contest and that “interior beauty as well as exterior beauty” was important.

But if a woman’s physical appearance is being judged then how does it matter whether a woman’s body is judged or her face?

In fact many women have more control over how their bodies look than on how their faces look. (Women who have had plastic surgery are barred from entering but no mention of ban on exercise/body sculpting).

Do you think this has something to do with women’s bodies being seen as more sexual than women’s faces?

Most cultures accept some body parts as less sexual (i.e. pure and innocent) than others. It also seems that the body parts that are generally exposed are seen as more innocent. For example, an ankle was seen as provocative in some cultures, knees in another, eye lashes in some, but hands and feet are seen as harmless in most cultures.

Why do you think, do those who don’t mind swimsuits object to bikinis?

29 thoughts on “The Miss Italia beauty contest has banned bikinis in favour of swimsuits.

  1. Since when have beauty contests ever been about “inner beauty” ? They have a minimum height requirement, but no minimum IQ requirement to screen contestants.

    Atleast they can be honest about what they are judging, and if there are women who want to compete and be judged in those areas, so be it. Why the hypocrisy of calling it something it is not?

    Being judged “beautiful” or “sexy” is not something to be ashamed of if that is indeed how you wish to be perceived.

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  2. “interior beauty as well as exterior beauty” – yeah right. Those who are perfectly proportional, are of a certain age, are of a certain size, are of a certain skin texture and tone – these are the ones shortlisted. No separate ‘test’ is held for assessing ‘interior’ beauty. It is assumed those who are thin, tall etc. etc. are by default good at heart. I mean they even talk about world peace and starving children so they must be really good isn’t it? **rolls eyes**

    I fail to understand how replacing a bikini with a swimsuit adds gravitas to this sham show – and I fail to understand what moral victory is perceived in this move. Everyone knows that this is a PHYSICAL beauty contest period. The bikini round puts the body on display – perfectly logical.
    If it really gave ‘interior beauty’ equal importance then the fat girls, girls with pimples, girls with frizzy hair, girls with small breasts, girls with thin lips, girls with short eyelashes – but all such girls who work tirelessly in research, in NGOs, in the army, in the red cross – all of them would have been eligible.

    So lets cut the bullshit. I dont know why they sent you this link – what is it they want to prove? ‘See see even in Italy they banned bikinis so why are you complaining when we criticise Indain girls’ clothes?’ Well, what a daft compariion? The problem in India is not the clothes, but the filthy minds. I don’t think an Italian girl in a skirt/shorts and a tank top (yes, Italian summers are swelteringly hot), walking down the street worries about being groped or molested. But an Indian woman in a saree/salwaar/jeans and kurti – all clothes that cover her completely – still worries about being harassed on the street.

    But let me tell you – I don’t feel embarassed to see a well-toned woman in a two-piece. The women athletes in the Olympics – I found them all beautiful in a raw, brutal way – their hard work, their dedication, their iron-will, their superbly toned bodies …what animal magnetism compared to the skinny, bony idiots on the ramp!

    But you know when I’ve felt really embarassed?

    When Madhuri Dixit thrust out her well-padded breasts and shook them time and again to songs like ‘dhak dhak’ – or twirled her ample, bare navel to ‘hum ko aaj kal hai…’

    When Malaika Arora Khan, Katrina Kaif, Bipasha Basu and several others – all clad in clothes that barely covers their upper torso – rubbed their backsides, shook their booties, jiggled their breasts -in songs that invited a crowd of inebriated men to feel free to ‘have a go’ at them.

    When rain-soaked heroines clad in chiffon sarees dance around in what can only be described as a ritualistic, tribal foreplay.

    And coming to ‘real’ citizens – men unzipping and peeing on the road and touching themselves every other minute is even more mortifying than a girl in an apparently ‘tight’ top.

    All said and done, there nothing wrong in admiring a human body. So the beauty wallahs should stop packaging it as ‘internal and external beauty’ and just stick to the agenda. And to the people who see a moral triumph in the one piece vs. two piece – seriously, get a life.

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    • I don’t think an Italian girl in a skirt/shorts and a tank top (yes, Italian summers are swelteringly hot), walking down the street worries about being groped or molested.

      She probably does, or if she doesn’t, it’s only because she’s used to it.

      Most Italians dress more fashionably than most Indians, but believe me, this is not a country we should be seeing as an example.

      Sexism is ingrained very deeply in Italian society; the relative tolerance that the majority of the country shows toward’s Berlusconi’s (mis)adventures and ridiculous macho posturing is both a manifestation and reflection of that.

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      • OMG…I stand corrected on that particular foolish comparison. You are right PT. I remember reading an article about street harassment..or perhaps it was an excerpt from a book (Stop Street Harassment). Italian streets seem just as bad as Indian ones. I remember a quote that said if the police start throwing all these gropers and molesters into jail…then there wont be place for the drug lords…LOL!

        Perhaps the difference is that in India there seems to be a political motivation too.

        This is something off-topic – here is a site that is dedicated to street harassment – http://www.stopstreetharassment.org. It rightly points out that more than 80% of women worldwide have faced street harassment – which is rightfully termed as a rights violation. One can share experiences, and take a look at statistics; understand responses and behaviour.

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        • @ Moonbeam
          Street harassment is a worldwide phenomenon. While India terrible in this aspect, it isn’t the worst. Some of the Middle Eastern countries, like Saudi and Egypt would hold that distinction.

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  3. pardon me for being stupid but i thought the beautiful peagents are judged more on the SKIN- beauty or what they say EXTERIOR beauty ..

    I think what shud change is the “EYE” that is used to look at people.. as i mentioned in the previous post of urs …

    also I think nowadays the people who are behind asking for these changes and those who go on rally’s and dharnas and what now .. I think time has also come for them to STOP.. take a deep breadth and consider their agenda once again .. because I think all that was the initial agenda is lost ..

    So on a beauty contest the bikini is not allowed , we can all cheer , BUT majority of us will go and see that movie which has posters displaying a women in bikini’s ..

    I dont understand that ..

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  4. It’s rather silly, but this is Italy, right? Not exactly a shining beacon of gender equality.

    Italy is certainly far more sexist and patriarchal than any other Western country I’ve been to (unless you count former Soviet Bloc countries like Ukraine).

    If traditional Good Indian Sons (TM) are looking for inspiration, they need look no further than Italy where it is not uncommon to find mothers doing every chore for sons (not daughters) who are in their late twenties.

    Mama does the cooking, mama does the cleaning, mama does the washing and mama even pays the bills.

    Also, while street sexual harassment is relatively uncommon in most parts of Europe and North America (at least in non-ghetto neighborhoods), Italy is a major exception to that rule.

    A lot of things in Italian culture are actually very reminiscent of traditional Indian culture (or what passes for ‘traditional’ anyway), largely because of the strong influence of conventional Christian morality in both countries (Catholic influences in Italy and Victorian traditions in India).

    Frankly, I don’t care whether models wear Swimsuits or Bikinis to a fashion show. It’s nonsensical to claim that clothing can somehow shift the focus of a beauty pageant from external to internal beauty. How the heck do you even judge ‘inner’ beauty anyway?

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    • Does anyone else think that societies that are formed based on religious ideologies – they all have one thing in common – severe gender inequality? Be it Christian, Muslim or Hindu…the sufferers have been women. (Again apologies for going off topic.)

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      • I don’t entirely agree. The US is far more religious than many Western European countries. No presidential address can end without “God bless America” and right-wing groups are pretty vociferous in their affirmation of faith – to the extent of denying Darwinism. Yet, gender inequality is relatively rare.

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        • Adding to that, it’s a myth that only religion fosters gender inequality. Atheists are just as capable of being misogynistic/gender supremacists as are believers.

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        • As far as I know, while right wing loonies are there in the US – the philosophy and culture of America has always placed more importance on personal freedom than religious texts. The countries that have religion as a political ideology, where religion dominates every aspect of one’s day-to-day life – these are the countries where there is/has been gender inequality. Atleast religion has always been the starting point.

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      • I think an overdose of religion can definitely be a contributing factor. Most religions are written for men, by men and many of them were written at times when equating women and chattel was nothing out of the ordinary.

        Religion does go well with patriarchy a lot of the time.

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        • I agree. Religion fosters patriarchy because it is designed by men for men. If religious codes were fluid according to the times, then gender inequality would have been addressed by now. Unfortunately, no one wants to change the original religious books.
          Also, people will go all out to support what they want to believe. If a man thinks a woman is inferior, then he might lean on religious sayings to prove his point.

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    • PT, I am thrilled to see you refer to Indians having Victorian morality! A friend of mine always said that.. That Indian culture was not so stuck up about chastity and crap until the British came.. I think that it one of the worst legacies of colonial rule!

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  5. @ Praveen
    I agree with your assertion that Italy is sexist, but I can’t see why you think Berlusconi’s adventures are representative of sexism. Most of his so called ‘misadventures and macho posturing’ involved consenting women, not the kind of forced ‘adventures’ that the average self-righteous desi ‘macho-man’ would engage in (a la Mangalore).
     
    Even if people of puritan backgrounds are too uncomfortable to admit that Berlusconi is an alpha male, he is at the very least, not a hypocrite.

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    • His misadventures also include a long list of alleged acts of sexual harassment, sex with minors and granting sexual favors to women in his organization. Those allegations may or may not be true, but they are widely regarded to be, and he is widely forgiven for them, because hey, boys will be boys.

      His macho posturing is as much about the supposed weakness of women (who need constant protection) as the macho ideal of men. He publicly courts Italy’s conservative Catholic circles (somewhat compulsory in Italian politics), and whether because of that or because of his private beliefs, images of self-sacrificing mothers who single-handedly hold families together (similar to a saffronite conception of an ideal society) are a staple in his speeches.

      No, ‘Berlo’ does not think much of women. He can’t quite hold a candle to India’s Muthaliks and Manjulas in that regard, but he’s bad enough.

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  6. While I personally detest these Miss— events (which are clearly only about a certain look and body type) it’s an inescapable fact of life that a woman will be judged , by men and women, for her body and her face, from birth till death, contest or no contest.

    The only thing anyone can realistically do to break the cycle is to instil a sense of self worth NOT based on looks in young girls and young women around them. Compliment on their looks if you must- but avoid comparisions , comments, and ‘helpful suggestions’. Praise their personalities, their abilities and their brains instead. Tell them at a woman is much more than a trophy or a pretty face. Show them , with your actions, that indulging in prettifying onself is a choice, not a requirement or expectation. Prove to them , that they are loved and will be loved, irrespective of the colour of their skin, or the shape of their nose.

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    • I agree that this is how young girls should be raised. However, what of the average teenage boy, whose interest in girls does not go beyond the physical? How is one going to change that, given the raging hormones and unfettered access to porn on the Internet?
      The average teenage girl would love to be popular with the opposite sex. More often than not, being good looking (read better looking than the competition) is the first step. How do we tell girls to focus on their other qualities in order to be happier with oneself?

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      • Not sure if the question was directed at me-
        I don’t know about average teenage boys- but speaking about an average teenage girl I would agree that teenage is a time of insecurity about one’s looks and social standing amongst peers. I’m not sure you can convince a teenage girl that looks and boys are not important-she wouldn’t believe you…. what you can do is at least make sure you give out the message , with your own actions, that there’s more to life than looking pretty.

        For example- I grew up with a mother who would come home talking excitedly about her day at work, and went to a school where the principal was an out-and-out feminist. Also, I was encouraged to participate in debates and plays and a good academic record was an expectation- both from the principal and at home.
        On top of that, I was close to one boy who was easily my best friend and my only source of information about ‘boys’.
        Of course, none of this made me any less obsessed about my looks, or lessened my determination to ‘make a boyfriend’ , but as I grew up and got ready to leave home, the insecurity was atleast *partly* replaced by a self assurance that wasn’t based on my looks.And the credit for that , I guess, lies with my mother and my principal.

        On the other hand, a good friend at college was absolutely gorgeous and had a mother who took pains , right from the time she was a teenager, to make sure she looked her best at all times.She had grown up being praised and fawned upon for her beauty. Her whole sense of self worth was based on the fact that she was the prettiest girl in the batch.Thus when a highly-eligible ‘proposal’ rejected her (one that she wanted)- she completely fell apart. She was 23 by then- and felt worthless. Had her parents instilled self confidence in her for things other than her looks early on in life, she would have not been so devastated by the ‘no’ from a stranger.

        Ultimately I’m not sure what needs to be done to teach a girl self esteem and confidence- but what I do know is what should NOT be done- and thats to focus too much on her looks, because she will be doing that anyway.

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  7. //But if a woman’s physical appearance is being judged then how does it matter whether a woman’s body is judged or her face?//

    Perfect point IHM.

    Just yesterday, my American coworker was talking incoherantly about a lot of things after his break-up and he brought up Indian arranged marriages. Out of all the flaws of an arranged marriage that I have known, what bothered him was, ‘how do you know how the woman really looks like with all that loose clothing?’

    I thought that was shallow until I read this post. If people are making a decision based on appearances, what’s wrong about knowing details about the body? Nothing.

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  8. Pingback: Dad wears short shorts to teach daughter what she wears is everybody’s business and everybody’s approval proves her great worth. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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