10 May 2009

Saudi Arabia Prepares for ‘Miss Beautiful Morals’ Pageant

Although we still say and hear that true beauty comes from within, few – if any – are the beauty pageants that crown their winners on anything but great looks and model-like abilities. In Saudi Arabia, the “Miss Beautiful Morals” beauty pageant has just reached its second year and, as the organizers are happy to announce, the number of contestants has doubled.

Speaking with Times Online, pageant founder Khadra al-Mubarak says that “Miss Beautiful Morals” is meant to show the world that western pageants have got it all wrong from the start, with the emphasis they place on looks and abilities that, in the end, say close to nothing about how that person really is like. “Miss Morals,” for instance, is not about outside beauty, since contestants hardly show their face, but about what makes a woman truly beautiful – such as is, say, her love, respect and appreciation for her parents.

“The idea of the pageant is to measure the contestants’ commitment to Islamic morals... It’s an alternative to the calls for decadence in the other beauty contests that only take into account a woman’s body and looks. The winner won’t necessarily be pretty. We care about the beauty of the soul and the morals.” the pageant founder says for the publication.

The competition starts on Saturday and will see the approximately 200 contestants spending the following 10 days “attending classes and being quizzed on themes including ‘Discovering your inner strength,’ ‘The making of leaders’ and ‘Mum, paradise is at your feet’.” the Daily Mail says. All contestants will also spend a day with their mothers, under the strict supervision of pageant judges, who will then rate their love and respect for them. The winner, who will be crowned “Miss Beautiful Morals,” will walk away with $2,600 and several other prizes, while the first two runnerups will get $1,300 each.

Since the contest is not televised and no men are allowed to participate, women will be allowed to uncover their faces during the 10-day period. Although it may seem like nothing, the “Miss Beautiful Morals” competition is extremely important, being the first (and only, so far) competition of the kind in Saudi Arabia, as the Mail points out.

“There are no such displays in ultra-strict Saudi Arabia, where until Miss Beautiful Morals was inaugurated last year, the only pageants were for goats, sheep, camels and other animals, aimed at encouraging livestock breeding. This year’s event kicks off Saturday in the mainly Shiite Muslim town of Safwa, and mostly draws local Shiite contestants. But it’s open to anyone – and this year, 15 Sunni Muslims are participating, al-Mubarak said.” the publication informs.