Ladies and Gentlemen… presenting, Miss Manchester!

// 6 May 2005

Organisers of the Miss Manchester beauty contest have been criticised by Object’s Jennifer Drew for treating women as sex objects. The Miss Manchester competition has been in existence for a number of years, according to the Manchester Metro News, but this is the first time it has involved a fashion show, not photos alone. Angela de Frou, of organisers AdF management, stuck up for the event by saying that films such as Miss Congeniality had made beauty contests more popular as well as demonstrating that women could find a rewarding job as well as simply performing charity duties. Jennifer Drew, of Object, argued that the competition feeds into a mens magazine mentality, whereas Angela de Frou, of AdF, argued that the current Miss England, Danielle Jones, had been thanked by charites such as Womens Aid and Refuge for raising the profile of demostic violence.

This report comes a week after another Manchester paper celebrated the success of two local girls in the annual FHM sexiest women poll, and also represents another chapter in the beauty competition wars, along with local debates about the objectification of women, which erupted two years ago with the lad mag style “Girls Of Manchester Universities” calander.

Personally, I have difficulty taking Beauty Contest’s even remotely seriously, possibly because of a book I read when young and impressionable by Gwen Grant, called “One Way Only”, in which two Nottinghamshire girls in the 1950’s are entered in a regional seaside beauty contest. (Sample: “And who would you like to be little girl?” “The Red Baron”)

Whilst the debate over the “Girls Of Manchester Universities” was resolved a year later when the student behind it launched “Boys Of Manchester Universities” to accompany it, it is also worth bearing in mind that Manchester is one of several cities to hold a regional round of the Ms Lesbian U.K competition, which could be seen to be a much more subversive beauty competion in a number of ways than Miss Manchester, if only because you don’t need to be 17 to 24 and over 5ft 7 in height.

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