Miss World origin, winners, top-ranking countries, past venues, and the changes that took place for the betterment of the pageant.
Beauty with a Purpose
Eric Morley founded the pageant in 1951. It was intended to promote Mecca, a social and bingo club leisure company based in the United Kingdom, by holding the pageant in Mecca halls. He joined Mecca as a publicity manager in 1946.
I bet Eric, a French horn player, didn’t expect that Miss World would go on to become the oldest surviving major international beauty competition on earth. He certainly overcame the pains of being orphaned at age 11. Even though a heart attack took this man away from us on November 9, 2000, at age 82, his legacy is carried on by his wife, Julia Morley.
Julia has certainly done great with the pageant. In 2002, Miss World was supposed to be held in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. That move might have been the reason a Nigerian woman is still alive today. Amina Lawal was sentenced to death through stoning on March 22 of that year. But the publicity of the pageant being held there was helpful in getting people around the world to notice and help her. Some contestants of the pageant, led by Kathrine Sorland of Norway, even planned to boycott just to show their protest. Due to some conflict, the pageant ended up being held in London. Nonetheless, Amina’s conviction was overturned. Miss World stood by its slogan, Beauty With a Purpose.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the places where the pageant has been held. The 1st to 18th editions of Miss World were held at the Lyceum Theatre. This building can be found on Wellington Street, in the City of Westminster and has the seating capacity of 2,000. The first time Miss World was not held at the Lyceum Theatre was back in 1969 (which is also the same year man landed on the moon).That year, the prestigious pageant was held at the Royal Albert Hall. This concert hall is still located in the City of Westminster but is in the South Kensington district. The pageant was held there 20 consecutive times.
The city-state of Hong Kong had the honor of hosting Miss World in 1989. With tourist magnets like The Peak, Victoria Harbour, Giant Buddha, Outlying Islands, and The Hong Kong Global Geopark of China, it’s really no wonder that the organizers were convinced to hold the pageant there. It was the first time the pageant was held outside of the United Kingdom. I think that was a good move for the beauty competition because it allowed a different atmosphere. The 39th edition was held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibit Centre (HKCEC) on November 22, 1989.
In 1991, North America became the third continent in which the pageant has been held. Atlanta, the capital of Georgia (nicknamed as the Peach State), proudly hosted the 41st edition of the pageant. Boasting the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Botanical Garden, ATL Cruzers Electric Car Tours, Atlanta History Center, and the Center for Puppetry Arts, it was definitely no mistake for the pageant to be held in Atlanta. The chosen venue was the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), which is the major convention center of the city.
The first African country to host Miss World was South Africa. The country’s motto is “Unity in Diversity.” And diversity they most certainly have, ranking 6th out of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. The event was held at the Sun City Entertainment Center on December 12, 1992. The pageant remained there until its 45th edition.
With all the success this pageant has achieved, the Miss World Organization never forgets to give back. More than £250 million has been donated to charities for children all over the world. I think it’s safe to say that this pageant has made the world a better place. And it continues its advocacy every day.
Changes and Improvements
There is always room for improvement. That must be why fast track events were added to the competition in 2003. These events provide opportunities for the contestants to automatically qualify for the final round. Some of these fast tracks are:
- Beach Beauty- each contestant competes in a different swimsuit. The judges then make their top picks, runners-up, and the winner.
- Beauty With a Purpose- (this was introduced in 2001, but the rule that the winner of this event would automatically qualify for the finals was only implemented in 2005) this is awarded to the contestant that launched the most important charity project in her country. This fast track event used to be called “Miss World Scholarship.”
- Miss Talent- (also introduced in 2001, but only in 2003 did the winner of this event start to qualify for the finals) each contestant would show her ability. This could be in the form of an act, a dance, a song, a poem, or anything that would show the contestant’s ability.
- Miss Sports– this probably wouldn’t be a problem for any of the contestants, since they must already be active people to have figures that qualify for the pageant. Each contestant must be able to do exercises such as jumping jacks and push-ups. The fastest women advance to the next round, where they compete in sports like swimming and long jump.
- Top Model- (this was introduced in 2004) each contestant models for the judges in hopes of getting the highest score.
Now let us go to the winners. I cannot possibly list all 61 winners of the Miss World pageant. But I’ll list the ones I find more interesting here:
- Kerstin “Kiki” Håkansson- she was the very first Miss World. Up to now, she is the only one who was in a bikini when she was crowned.
- May-Louise Flodin- the second Miss World. Both she and Kiki represented Sweden. The back-to-back win must have made Sweden proud.
- Carmen Susana Duijm Zubillaga- she represented Venezuela and became Miss World 1955. Seven years later, she gave birth to Carolina del Valle Cerruti Duijm. Carolina went on to become Venezuela’s representative to Miss World 1983.
- Petra Schürmann-Freund- she was only the third runner-up in Miss Germany, but she was sent to compete in Miss World 1956 because she was better at speaking in English. It really does pay to know the universal language.
- Catharina Johanna Lodders- she was Miss World 1962. I listed her because I liked her statement after the competition, “I don’t think I’m the most beautiful girl in the world – I am the most beautiful girl here.”
- Penelope Plummer- she was Miss World 1968. In 1970, a rose was named after her.
- Hólmfríður “Hófí” Karlsdóttir- she was Miss World 1985. She’s listed because I think her name would be a challenge.
- Linor Abargil- she was raped seven weeks before she won as Miss World 1998. She is here because of the strength she showed in going public with her case, to become an example for women who have been raped and are ashamed or afraid to press charges. She is a global advocate in the fight against sexual violence.
- Agbani Darego- she was crowned in 2001. She was the first Black African to win the title.
- Ivian Sarcos- her parents died when she was 8 and she has 12 brothers and sisters. Nuns raised her in a convent. She intended to become a nun. But she realized that her passion was in fashion. She won as Miss World 2012. She represented Venezuela.