07 May 2009

Miss Australia 2007 Kelly Busteed Speaks on "Malnourished" Beauty Queen

Former Miss Universe Australia Kimberley Busteed has called on pageant organisers to impose minimum weight guidelines on contestants after a Perth entrant was criticised for being too thin.

Ms Busteed, the City News `Girl About Town’ blogger, said when she won the national competition in 2007, there was no pressure on her to lose weight.

``The only time I was told to lose weight was when I was swimming competitively when I was about 14 years old,’’ Ms Busteed said.

``I’ve never been interested in pursuing modelling so maybe that’s why I haven’t had that happen to me.’’

This year’s winner, former Townsville model Rachael Finch, 21, entered the Miss Universe Australia competition in 2008 but failed to make the finals.

Ms Busteed said she believed the Miss Universe Australia pageant had ``changed a lot’’ in the past two years.

``The girls seem to be getting thinner and thinner,’’ she said.

``It seems to be turning from a pageant to a catwalk competition.

``Definitely something has to be done. If young girls are looking up to the winners and thinking they have to be that skinny then we have a problem.’’

Channel Ten’s So You Think You Can Dance winner, Brisbane ballerina Talia Fowler, also spoke this week of the pressure to be thin when she performed with the Queensland Ballet.

Eating Disorders Association spokeswoman Desi Achilleos said the association strongly condemned the acceptance of dangerously thin or underweight models and beauty pageant contestants.

``The fashion and dance industries place so much pressure (on girls) to be extremely thin, which impacts negatively on the wider community,’’ Ms Achilleos said.

``We accept that many models selected for pageants and dancers are naturally thin, however we do not accept this as an argument for dismissing concerns about the pressure from idealised underweight body types and the impact this is having on our young generation.

``So far this year we have supported close to 600 individuals with eating disorders, 130 of whom have anorexia nervosa, the leading lethal health problem in adolescent girls.’’