You’d think that as an ex-model*, I’d be interested and watch this – but I’ve only watched the show twice in my life, and the other night was one of the occasions. There was nothing else on TV and I was in-between books, so why not? Well, I’ll tell you why I shouldn’t have watched – it was just as horrible and sexist and demeaning as I’d expected – and more. The poor girls are paraded in front of the camera like so many prize heifers. They are obliged to wear ridiculous costumes. For example – in the very beginning, they were dressed by “local creaters”, meaning one poor girl was wearing a dress made to look like a thistle. One internaut compared it to the flu virus.
After a parade of truly lamentable costumes, the girls came back ten at a time in different dance shows, and they were all so bland I can truly not remember a single one. (The shows were bland. The girls too. They were clones, I swear – only about five girls looked different from the rest – the others All Looked the Same!)
The girls wandered around the set, surrounded by a bouncy group of male dancers. The thirty girls were then weeded (no pun intended for the thistle costume) down to ten, I think, and that was when the ten finalists got to speak in a microphone and introduce themselves. Not being TV stars or actors, they mostly wore terrified grins and stuttered their names, ages, and education levels. Not to make fun of them (it’s like shooting fish in a barrel) the girls were between the ages of 19 and 24, so didn’t have much experience, so the intros were short. Most girls proudly announced they were were “diplomé bac plus 2”, which in English means they had 2 years of higher education, and in French is not even correct. One actually came from a top university, but as she was an intellectual, she was weeded out in the next purge.
After the shy intros, the girls dashed off to don odd costumes for more non-dancing and choopy music – 3 seconds from one song, 3 seconds for another! Our attention span must not wander, so we will capture it with slices of songs and gaudy costumes. Here come the Cancan girls, then it was Superhero costumes;
Yes, they looked as ridicuous on the show as they do in the photo. They had capes. They had bathing suits. They had high heels. I’m not sure what their super powers were supposed to be? Who could they save dressed like that? However, the last Jurassic Park movie proved it was possible to outrun a tyranasaurus in high heels, so perhaps I am wrong to worry.
After the superheros there was another purge, and only five remained at the end. They came on stage first in bathing suits, climbed onto a sort of half moon statue, posed dramatically, climbed down and left stage right. I wasn’t sure what this was to prove, except one girl did nearly fall, thus taking herself out of the running because Miss France cannot be a klutz.
After the bathing suit the five finalists came out dressed in what looked like carboard dresses. They sparkled. They looked like that wrapping paper you hate because it cannot fold to accomodate any shaped present, and the tape won’t stick to it, and it smells funny. To tell you how ugly the dresses were – I cannot find a single one posted on the internet – they have all been signalled as abuse and removed. This was when the girls got to answer “A Question”. I wasn’t paying too much attention, but the first question was: “As a Woman, what do you think of the Miss Contests?”
I waited with bated breath. Would she come out and say what I was thinking: that the constest was an outdated model that featured a pathetically small sliver of the female population in France, and that it represented an antique model of the ideal young woman as a vapid, caring yet beautiful apolitical figure who could wear a bathing suit and walk down the stairs in a long dress? But no – she simply said that no one was forcing her to do the show (implicating that there may be others who had been forced?) and that she was proud to represent her region. OK. It was bland and caring and apolitical. (She didn’t win though. She was the one who stumbled climbing up on the moon set).
Other questions followed. By this point, my husband and I were zapping between the rugby game and the Miss France show, and I loved the contrast between the muddy, muscled, rugby players and the Miss contestants.
At any rate, the ending came, Miss Tahiti won, and that was the end of that. I’m not sure I’ll watch next year’s show – it was depressing how the Miss contest can take a woman and make her into a plastic figurine. If I had my way, there would be women there who were in wheelchairs, women with tatoos, women with weight problems, women who played rugby, women who never finished school, and women who looked different from the others, not this tall, slim, straight teeth, “look exactly alike” clones.
*in France, they say ‘ancienne mannequin’, which translates (if you do it word for word exactly) into ‘ancient model’. I prefer ex-model.