It seems that no beauty pageant goes by these days without at least a hint of controversy or scandal, so it came as no surprise when the Miss Universe 2010 Pageant offered up a bit of controversy of its own in the form of contestants appearing topless in promotional pictures for the pageant. Technically, the topless contestants, which include Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih, are not naked — they are artistically done up in swirls of body paint. ABC News reports that, for some, the distinction is immaterial. Naked is naked and, therefore, inappropriate. For others, it is an eye-catching, effective, and tasteful form of advertising.
“It’s definitely going to raise some brows, but what’s important is that I am comfortable,” Miss Trinidad and Tobago LaToya Woods told Access Hollywood. “This is my body and I feel liberated doing this.”
But while some see it as liberating, others do not. All of the Miss Universe 2010 contestants didn’t opt for the topless body painted pictures. Miss Haiti wore both a bikini and body paint for her promotional shots.
Miss USA 2010, Rima Fakih, went topless for her picture, but she posed with her back to the camera. “There [were] options,” Fakih told Access Hollywood, “and we were all asked what we feel comfortable with and I told them that I feel comfortable with beauty.”
She was satisfied with the way her promotional picture came out, admitting that she had always wanted to work with body paint. “For me, I like to do the back. I didn’t want to do the front for many reasons and one of them being an issue of] respect.” She explained: “I’m Arab, I’m Muslim, and I didn’t want to disappoint many people.”
ABC News reported that supporters of the bold promotional look, like the pageant’s vice president of public relations, Lark Marie Anton, believe that “you can be sexy, smart, and edgy and don’t think that these things are mutually exclusive.”
Detractors find it less about art or intelligence. Angie Meyer, a publicist and event planner who has worked for the Miss Universe Organization in the past, argues that the entire idea is counterproductive. “By bringing nudity into the equation, it no longer becomes a package of ‘beauty and brains’. Rather, this focuses it on body image. What kind of message are we sending to young girls?”
No doubt the debate will continue far after the actual contest ends. The Miss Universe 2010 Pageant will be broadcast on NBC Television on Monday, August 23, live from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.