For many, the Miss World Bikini Competition serves the same purpose as the Victoria's Secret fashion show: men are able to watch women half-naked on national television, while women are able to starve themselves for a week after watching it in hopes of losing 20 lbs. The organizers of the competition, which will be held in Indonesia this year, are trying to change this.
Hary Tanoesoedibjo, the owner of Indonesia's biggest media company MNC group and organizer of the competition, feels that the event has been too concentrated on physical beauty in the past and on objectifying women.
Blinded by bikinis, viewers forget that the competition is supposed showcase inner qualities of these women: intelligence, leadership and success. So instead, this year the bathing suit competition will be limited to one pieces that focus more on the fashion design of the suits and accompanying beachwear accessories.
While this decreases the sexual objectification of women, does it help to show anything about their "inner" qualities? What is the purpose of competing for the appeal of beachwear accessories if the goal of the organizers is to steer away from the shallow, physical focus that the bathing suit competition brings?
Donald Trump, who owns the Miss Universe competition, disagrees with the changes in the bathing suit competition for different reasons. He predicts that Miss World ratings will drop heavily after women are no longer displayed in their bikinis. Sexist? Maybe a little.
The reasoning behind omitting bikinis from the bathing suit competition this year, however, may not stem purely from feminism. In fact, quite opposite: the Miss World competition also announced they they would ban bikinis from the competition in order to respect the religious views of the Muslim population in Indonesia, where the competition will take place.
While the majority of Indonesia is Muslim, there is no national religion set up by the government and there are various other minority religions within the nation. Other protestors of these changes feel that they are just trying to show the world that women should be covered up.
It should be interesting to see how the public reacts to these changes in the bathing suit competition when Miss World airs this year. What is the truth behind these changes? Is Miss World standing up for women by not allowing them to wear bikinis, or keeping them trapped by old-fashioned religious restrictions?