Beauty pageant judges look at all sorts of things before giving out a crown. Depending on the contest, they might determine if a contestant is well-spoken or talented or if they can think quickly and under pressure. Of course, the judges are also keeping an eye on what a contestant looks like. However, one big pageant is now being sued for selecting contestants based on appearances.
Three former Miss France candidates allege that the pageant uses discriminatory practices by picking contestants based on the "representation of beauty." There are also requirements in place like a minimum height of 5' 5", no tattoos, no piercings other than ears, plus entrants need to be single, have never married, and to not have children. They also can't change their hair or gain weight.
The women suing the pageant, who are remaining anonymous, teamed up with French feminist group Osez Le Feminisme, which translates to Dare To Be Feminist. They filed their complaint against the Miss France company and Endemol Productions, who are behind the annual TV broadcast of the pageant. The suit alleges that Miss France is a "vehicle for sexist values."
It also states that the pageant's rules are illegal since French labor law forbids companies from discrimination based on "morals, age, family status or physical appearance." The suit cites various occasions where contestants were removed from the competition for acting "contrary to good morals, to public order or in the spirit of the contest, which is based on the values of elegance."
The case will now be heard by a judge, who will have to decide if the law applies since contestants might not be considered employees of the pageant and/or production company. While contestants don't sign any employment contract, the pageant might still need to obey the law. In fact, in 2013, a judge ruled in favor of contestants of the Mister France pageant, who sued for similar reasons.
Sylvie Tellier, who was crowned Miss France in 2002 and now runs the organization, told the Daily Telegraph that the organization promotes women's rights, saying, "You can parade in a swimsuit and be a feminist. We are no longer in the days of 'look beautiful and shut up.'"
The pageant, which turned 100 this year, is set to take place on December 11 in Caen, France.