Someone asked me why I love following beauty pageants, especially Miss Universe. I could’ve answered that it’s my hobby and just dropped the conversation, instead, I answered that a beauty pageant is one of the best ways to observe history. Pageants reflect society’s ever-changing perception of women and beauty. Through the years, we also saw how beauty pageants paved the way for the breakdown of racism. We see nations to rise and fall. We saw the rise and fall of communism. We saw nations change names, assimilate other territories and change governments. Later we saw the rise and fall of major media corporations and how the beauty pageant industry has asserted itself as a big business in terms of advertising, show business and fashion. As every disgruntled non-placer claims, indeed, the beauty pageant industry was also not spared by politics.
If one would analyze, several of the countries that excelled in Miss Universe were the major players in world history – USA, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. Of course we know that the United States has 8 Miss Universes, France has 1, Japan has 2, and Germany has 1. However, the United Kingdom has, so far in its successful participation rate, has … none? In this feature we will see how the English Rose has fared in Miss Universe.
The most successful non-winning country with nine top-five positions, the United Kingdom (including England, Scotland and Wales) has participated in Miss Universe since 1952.
Delegate: Aileen Chase/England (unplaced)
Winner: Armi Kuusela/Finland
Delegate: Margaret Rowe/England
Winner: Hillevi Rombin/Sweden
Iris Alice Kathleen Waller/England – 3rd runner-up
Winner - Carol Ann Laverne Morris/USA
Sonia Hamilton/England 2nd-runner up
Winner: Gladys Zender/Peru
Pamela Anne Searle/England - 3rd runner-up
Winner: Akiko Kojima/Japan
Joan Ellinor Boardman/England - semifinalist
Winner: Linda Jeanne Bement/ USA
Rosemarie Frankland/Wales - 1st runner-up
Arlette Dobson/England – 3rd runner-up
Susan Jones/ Scotland - semifinalist
Winner: Marlene Schmidt/Germany
Special Note: Although England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have had separate representatives in other international pageants, Miss World did not allow this until the creation of separate Parliaments in the United Kingdom.
Kim Carlton/England – semifinalist
Winner: Norma Nolan/Argentina
Special Note: In 1963, Susan Pratt of England got hit by a car and was unable to compete in the finals. That’s one less competition for Ieda Maria Vargas of Brazil as she became her country’s 1st titleholder that year, and Korea’s Kim Myoung Ja who gave her country its first runner-up finish.
Brenda Blackler/England – 1st runner-up
Greece - Corinna Tsopei
Janice Carol Whiteman/England – semifinalist
Winner: Margareta Arvidsson/Sweden
Jennifer Lyn Lewis/England – 2nd runner-up
Denise Elizabeth Page/Wales – semifinalist
Winner: Sylvia Hitchcock/USA
Jennifer Lowe Summers/England - semifinalist
Winner: Martha Vasconcellos/Brazil
Marilyn Ann Ward/England – semifinalist
Winner: Georgina Rizk/Lebanon
Jennifer McAdam/England – 2nd runner-up
Winner: Kerry Ann Wells/Australia
Special note: During the 1973 edition, Miss Colombia allegedly quipped that the European contestants were “pretty but smelly”. Are the British delegates among them? We don’t know for sure, but seeing that they didn’t place makes me think twice.
Helen Elizabeth Morgan/Wales – 1st runner-up
Kathleen Ann Anders/England - semifinalist
Winner: Amparo Munoz/Spain
Vicki Harris/England – semifinalist
Winner: Ann Marie Pohtamo/Finland
Sian Adey-Jones/Wales – 2nd runner-up
Carol Jean Grant /Scotland – 3rd runner up
Pauline Davis/England – semifinalist
Winner: Rina Messinger/Israel
Sandra Bell/Scotland – 2nd runner-up
Winner: Janelle Comissiong/Trinidad and Tobago
Carolyn Seaward/England – 2nd runner-up
Lorraine Davidson/Scotland - semifinalist
Janet Beverly Hobson/Wales - semifinalist
Winner: Maritza Sayalero/Venezuela
Linda Gallagher/ Scotland – 1st runner-up
Winner: Shawn Weatherly/USA
Della Frances Dolan/England - semifinalist
Winner: Karen Dianne Baldwin/ Canada
Karen Moore/England – 4th runner-up
Winner: Lorraine Downes/New Zealand
From 1991 to present Miss Universe Great Britain selects the delegate to Miss Universe, to no avail as they were all unplaced. Somehow, 2nd runner-up from the 2009 national pageant Alize Lily Mounter competed in other pageants and was more successful, finishing top 7 in Miss World 2011 and top 15 in Miss International 2012.
Since the late 80s, London has become one of the fashion capitals of world and one major stopover of aspiring models from all over Europe. The modeling business became lucrative and the look that works in beauty pageants is not in sync with what the fashion industry demands. Throughout this process came the rise of the supermodel, a model with a superstar status who can sell a whole line, and who’s lifestyle can inspire a whole generation. Girls no longer dream of becoming beauty queens, they want to emulate supermodels, the way they dress, even their bodies with results in the rise of eating disorders.
So far England has produced two globally recognizable supermodels:
Recently Naomi and Kate led a model march as part of the closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics. In a similar fashion, the host of the next Olympiad, Brazil, in its special presentation that night showcased their signature carnival with their own supermodel, Alessanda Ambrosio as main attraction.
Is the beauty queen’s time in the UK officially over or will it return to prominence in the future? No one knows for sure.