Each year hundreds of beauties from around the world undergo rigorous training to take centerstage and represent their countries to vie for the Miss Universe crown.
However, along with the glitz and glamour associated with the pageant are the controversies that unveiled the dark side of the competition and stirred the world.
In reality, the road to the crown is lurked with ugly truths. From fat shaming, gender issues, sex videos, and below the belt discriminations, the Miss Universe pageant certainly is not all glam and beauty.
As the universe prepares for the much-awaited pageant this year, here’s an article that sums up 10 of the most controversial moments in the history of Miss Universe.
1. Steve Harvey’s Controversial Mistake
It isn’t that long when the world was shocked with the wrongful announcement of the Miss Universe winner in 2015.
Steve Harvey, the pageant host has declared Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the pageant’s winner. But 4 minutes after the crown was passed on to her, Harvey went back to the stage to correct his mistake and declared Pia Wurtzbach of the Philippines as the real Miss Universe for 2015.
The few minutes of victory for Miss Colombia and passing the crown to Miss Philippines were definitely among the most awkward moments in the pageant’s history--much worse is the fact that they occurred with the whole world as witness.
2. Miss Lebanon’s Unlawful Selfie
Lebanon and Israel had long been in bad terms diplomatically. And the conflict was rekindled when Miss Universe 2015 Israel Doron Matalon took a selfie with Miss Universe Lebanon Saly Greige.
Dubbed as one of the most controversial selfies in the pageant’s history. It led to the Lebanese press’s criticism of Saly Greige as it was against their law to associate with any Israeli. This controversy was actually reminiscent of the 1993 incident when the Lebanese government banned their contestant after a photo of her with Miss Israel circulated in a French newspaper.
3. Beauty Brought by a Plastic Surgery
Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler of Venezuela made headlines when an old photo of her old circulated, showing her not so good facial-features.
The photos revealed the not so beautiful truth about Miss Venezuela’s winning look and suggest that she has undergone some enhancements. The issue however did not led to her disqualification. However, one thing has been revealed because of the incident: not all pageant winners are endowed with natural grace and charm.
4. Caught in a Gender Equality Debate
Another recent newsmaker in the Miss Universe competition is the controversy involving Miss Universe Canada 2012 Jenna Talackova. The pageant officials disqualified Miss Canada after learning that she is a transgender woman. Talackova was a naturally born male, but had undergone gender reassignment at the age of 19.
Her disqualification created a fuss around social media and among the LGBT community. Talackova did not yield to the decision and fought for her right to take part in the Miss Universe competition. It was a big issue back then but later on, the Miss Universe organization decided to lift its ban on transgender contestants.
5. Old Nude Photos Challenged the Winner
The Miss Universe pageant rules state that contestants are not allowed to pose nude in any media. However, Miss Universe 2004 winner Jennifer Hawkins of Australia got surrounded by controversies when rumors spread that she did nude body paint photographs. Later, nude photos of her circulated in Hustler, a pornographic magazine.
For whatever reason, she managed to keep the crown in spite of the obvious violation. However, it resulted to the disgust of many due to the outright breach of rules.
6. Too Fat to Keep the Crown
In 1996, Miss Universe Alicia Machado of Venezuela was warned about her weight gain and was threatened to be replaced by Miss Universe Aruba Taryn Mansell.
Donald Trump, the former owner of the beauty pageant even more fueled the issue after he called her “an eating machine” on the Howard Stern Show--an event that led to violent reactions and has been tagged as the biggest fat shaming incident in recent memory.
7. The Uncalled for Finale that Injured Many
The 1979 Miss Universe pageant in Perth, Australia could have ended successfully, if only the stage remained intact up to the last minute of the pageant. Unfortunately, before Miss Universe Maritza Sayalero was able to celebrate the first Miss Universe title of Venezuela, the stage collapsed injuring 20 candidates, a crowd of photographers and media personnel.
Of the twenty candidates, Miss Universe Malta Dian Borg Bartolo and Miss Universe Turkey Fusin Tahire Dermitan were seriously injured. What is more, rumors spread that some contestants were not given proper treatments due to racial discrimination.
8. No One Qualifies for the Crown
It was during the 1974 Miss Universe, held in the Philippines, that for the first time the Miss Universe Title had been left vacant for 6 months.
The winner, Miss Universe Amparo Muñoz of Spain had to give up the crown after keeping it for 6 months because of the opportunity for her to star in a movie, which breaches her contract with Miss Universe.
Aggravating the problem was the revelation that her runner-up, Miss Universe Wales Helen Elizabeth Morgan was an unwed mother and was therefore disqualified to be her replacement. Hence, the Miss Universe throne remained vacant for the next 6 months.
9. A Coalition against European Beauties
The Miss Universe 1966 was a controversial year for the pageant because it was when Latina beauties protested against the pageant official’s preference towards European women. In the event, Miss Universe Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil and Paraguay united to voice out their opinion that they were considered as “nothings” of the pageant.
And perhaps they were right because Miss Universe Sweden Margareta Arvidsson won the 1966 Miss Universe crown. However, they did not see the bigger picture: Venezuela has the most semi-finals, has three winning streaks for the First runner-up, and has already won the crown.
10. Gave Up the Crown for Love
Yes, the first Miss Universe in 1952 was also the first to relinquish her crown. Miss Universe Finland Armi Kuusela was only 17 years old when she bagged the crown. With only two more months away from the second edition of the pageant, she decided to surrender the title for a very personal reason: she wanted to get married.
She was married to a Filipino soon after but, Lo and behold, she was allowed by the Miss Universe Organization to keep the crown.
In spite of these controversies, there is no doubt that the Miss Universe organization remains to enjoy worldwide support as beauties from all over the world do their best to compete for the much coveted crown and recognition.
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