In which people are judged by their physical appearance. Expect a swimsuit round — or it could be the entire contest. Expect the winner to have a rhinestone tiara
and ermine cape
put on her while she is wearing the swimsuit
If there is a Straw Feminist
in the regular cast, she will
complain. Also, any men dressing up as women
will always do well. Little note for technicalities: a pageant
will tend to involve several different kinds of dresses (evening, swimsuit, etc.), a talent show, and a personality test ("what would you do to save the world etc."), while a contest will probably be much simpler (and hence easier to film).
Good place to murder someone too.
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Anime & Manga
- In Great Teacher Onizuka, Eicichi Onizuka helps one of his students feel like she is good for something, by encouraging her to enter a pageant.
- The gang force Natsumi to take part in one in an episode of Keroro Gunsou. Thanks to a little accident with a growth ray, the poor girl ends up traumatized.
- In Airmaster the big-chested airhead with a crush on Maki wins a beach beauty pageant thanks to a very convincing imitation of a Holstein cow. It has to be seen to be believed.
- Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch has the "Mermaid Contest".
- There apparently is one going on in the School Festival in Gokinjo Monogatari, but the characters ignore it rather spectacularly.
- Mrs. Ketchum pulls this off in an episode of Pokémon. Keep in mind she is easily twice as old as the next oldest entrant. And she STILL won!
- Subverted in the episode "Princess vs Princess". Misty and Jessie enter the Princess Festival, assuming it's a Beauty Contest. Of course it does start off with the contestants on stage in formal wear...only for the judges to then reveal it's actually a Pokemon tournament.
- Ah! My Goddess: Belldandy won the school pageant. Sayoko was not pleased.
- Urusei Yatsura has one beauty pagent storyline. In both anime and manga it features some really crazy setup and initial events; however, in the anime things end early with Ataru making off with the proceeds, while the manga ends with a big fight scene featuring a gorilla, a python and a bear with boxing gloves. Plus Ran kissing most of her fellow contestants.
- Omamori Himari has a chapter with a beauty contest. Surprisingly, the title character does not win. She spends most of the chapter talking with Yuuto, and therefore is not present to be judged, despite having entered. As a result, Lizlet wins the contest.
- Martian Successor Nadesico had the Miss Nadesico contest, a parody of the Miss Macross contest of Super Dimension Fortress Macross. It started out as a simple talent contest to raise morale, but Yurika changed it into a contest with the winner being captain for a day. The higher ups changed it to be captain permanently just to get rid of Yurika! The crew tossed in the bathing suit portion and by the end of the episode, the only one not participating was Ryoko (which was a good thing, since she was able to warn everyone of a Jovian attack. Existential crisis are a good thing!). At the end, Ruri ends up winning, but steps down out of utter embarrassment over the whole thing and Yurika gets her title back by virtue of being second place! It's a spectacular Reassignment Backfire!
- As mentioned above, Super Dimension Fortress Macross has the Miss Macross contest, which was won by Idol Singer Lynn Minmei. In Macross Frontier, the Macross Quarter has its own version in which Ranka Lee participates. She doesn't win, but it still gets her noticed.
- One chapter of Ai Kora involves a "Miss Sagashitamon" contest, which the male student judges use as an excuse to get the girls to indulge in the guys' fetishes. A riot nearly breaks out when the guys of Sagashitamon Academy start arguing over which girl should win the contest, and in the end the girls revolt and have the judges dangled over a bonfire.
- The infamous fourth episode of Lost Universe, Millie wins largely because all the other contestants were too busy running for their lives when terrorists attacked.
- During a lull in the carnage in Infinite Ryvius, the crew stage a party to lighten morale, one of the designated event planners inserts a call-in voting contest as to the prettiest girl aboard.
- There's one in Fairy Tail where the main seven female guild members partecipate. Then Evergreen comes forth and petrify them, but this is another story.
- At the start of Mobile Suit Gundam F91, Seabook and his friends are at such a contest where Seabook's girlfriend Cecily is a participant; just after she wins, the Crossbone Vanguard attacks their colony and thing go to hell.
- In Tenchi Universe, the girls, minus Sasami, enter a beauty contest in order to win some much-needed money thanks to events that put them on the run. Kiyone almost wins the event (thanks to some thought-to-be-embarrassing Tan Lines) until Bounty Hunter Nagi shows up and wins it. However, as they escape, Ryoko swipes the money anyway, adding to their problem!
- Ai, Mai, Mii and Mea enter one in Popotan. Mii wins, despite (or, more likely, because of) her age.
- Ookami San had a beauty contest episode, and all of the main female characters competed. The crossdressing Otogi Bank president was the winner.
- The title character in Maicchingu Machiko Sensei entered in a few of these. There was one episode in which she lost, which is surprising since everyone was in love with her.
- Sailor Moon had a contest in the first season. This one was actually a wedding gown design competition, where the designer had to model her own gown. It was all just a ploy for the Monster of the Week to gather energy. Sailor Moon entered the contest using a magical disguise.
- Beauty contests, often of an impromptu sort, were a staple of stand-alone Archie Comics stories during The Seventies and The Eighties in particular. Most often, they took place at the beach. A frequently-used premise had the contestants — which nearly always included Betty and Veronica — attempt to sweet-talk the judge(s) — usually Archie, and sometimes Reggie as well — into voting for them. If Midge was a contestant, this inevitably meant her Dumb Muscle boyfriend Moose threatening the judge(s) into voting for her (a reversal of the usual Green-Eyed Monster Moose plots where merely glancing at Midge from a distance would earn Archie or Reggie a curb stomp).
Films — Live-Action
- Drop Dead Gorgeous is a darkly comedic satire of beauty pageants in general.
- As is Smile.
- Ellen Page's character in Whip It starts out a (reluctant) pageant girl.
- Miss Congeniality is a comedy crime thriller about a hard-nosed Tomboy cop who goes undercover as a pageant contestant in order to uncover a murder plot.
- A rather disturbing child beauty contest is featured in Little Miss Sunshine — and apparently it's not that unlike actual child beauty pageants.
- The other little girls in the pageant were actual beauty pageant contestants and used their own costumes and routines.
- Venezuelan film Puras Joyitas has the Beauty Contest as the background of the action. The event have even some Straw Feminist protesting who really are along with the protagonists in their real plan.
- Sleeper: Woody Allen's fugitive in the future is captured and made to assimilate through mental manipulation, put in a beauty contest scenario in a lab. It works, as a switch is thrown and he breathily spouts a banal speech about using the title to promote peace and brotherhood.
- Temptation Island is centered around the finalists of the Miss Manila Sunshine contest.
- Little Miss Stoneybrook in The Baby-Sitters Club.
- Book 4 of The Faerie Queene: Satyrane holds a tournament to determine the strongest, most-skilled knight, followed by a beauty contest for the knights' ladies. The prizes for the winners would be... each other! The beauty contest entrants are judged not only for their beauty but their purity and are tested by a magic girdle that can only be worn by a virgin. The judges apparently don't share the author's views on chastity, however, and stubbornly declare a princess (who's really a clone — long, sad story) the winner over the one girl the girdle will fit. The winning knight passes up the prize due to being secretly a Sweet Polly Oliver.
- The Robert Lynn Asprin/Jody Lynn Nye fantasy collection Myth-Told Tales includes a story detailing the heroes' involvement in an interdimensional pageant.
- The book Twenty Pageants Later is told from the POV of a beauty queen's younger/less attractive sister, when her middle school decides to hold a beauty pageant.
- The book Beauty Queens is about a plane of girls going to compete in the Miss Teen Dream pageant.
Myths & Religion
- Want to make any wedding instantly more fun? Just take one golden apple, write on it "For the Fairest" and throw it in the middle of a wedding attended by the most beautiful and vain goddesses in the world. When Eris threw the Apple of Discord into Thetis' wedding, it took more than twenty years for this conflict to be resolved. Eventually it came down to three of the most powerful goddesses you could name — Hera, queen of the gods, Athena, goddess of war, and Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Zeus, not wanting any of the gods to face the wrath of the losers, picked the handsomest human man he could find to make the choice (because being beautiful makes you a great judge of beauty). They each tried to bribe him — one with wisdom, one with all of Asia, and one with the most beautiful woman in the world. Being a young fool, Paris chose Aphrodite. The Trojan War ensues.
- The book of Esther in The Bible sets the story in motion when King Ahasuerus decides to find a new queen with what amounts to an empire-wide beauty pageant. (Runners-up got to be in the king's harem.) The winner, of course, is Esther. Older Than Feudalism.
- WWE will often have swimsuit contests or else Halloween costume contests featuring the eye candy Divas. Most of the time these contests rarely just happen - there's normally going to be a Heel who is annoyed at not winning and attacks the actual winner, setting up a match. Or else a Brawn Hilda who destroys everyone.
- Incredibly for the medium, The Howard Stern Show has hosted multiple beauty contests over the years. Interns, Playboy Bunnies, amputees, and once even three of Tiger Woods' dozen plus mistresses competed against one another.
- In Of Thee I Sing, the Wintergreen campaign decides to hold a beauty contest in Atlantic City, for the purpose of giving his run for President a love interest. Unfortunately for the winner, Wintergreen doesn't keep his promise to marry her.
- The second act of The Skin of Our Teeth begins with a beauty contest in Atlantic City, judged by Mr. Antrobus. Mrs. Antrobus is somewhat less than pleased when he chooses their former maid Sabina as the winner.
- The female team members of Persona 4 are entered into one of these by Yosuke. Teddie manages to get there to be a swimsuit round when he becomes an honorary judge after the crossdressing pageant which the girls entered the boys into in revenge. Naoto isn't best pleased by this; she bails, but wins the contest anyway.
- According to her trophy description in Super Smash Bros.. Brawl, Jody Summer from F-Zero was "chosen as Miss Galactic Space Federation" after F-Zero X. But Miss Galactic Space Federation equates more to "being the spokeswoman for a para-militaristic organization that works to ensure law, order, peace, and harmony throughout the cosmos and holds control over seven galaxies" than "being a bikini model" (although, don't get us wrong, she could definitely pull it off◊).
- A purer example comes from that of Mrs. Arrow in F-Zero GX, with the possible subversion in that she's a female bodybuilder, so said contest is judged moreso on physique than beauty (but she's not lacking◊ the latter either). Oddly enough, no other contestants are shown (Octoman and Michael Chain are also shown posing in their own videos, but they obviously don't count), so there's no way of knowing if she actually won.
- Super Robot Wars W has the Miss Nadesico contest (mentioned above), but with a twist: the whole thing is a set-up by Baron Ashura disguised as Prof. Yumi, who wants someone incompetent put in charge of the heroes. As is standard practice for Super Robot Wars, Hilarity Ensues.
- The Miss Miltia Beauty Contest is frequently mentioned but is never actually shown in the second Xenosaga game.
- Gotham Girls has a pageant which is all talent, which figures as it's a trap set up by Bat-Girl to ensnare the villains.
- The Simpsons episode "Lisa the Beauty Queen". Homer enters Lisa in the Little Miss Springfield pageant to improve her self-image; she gets second place, but then the winner is struck by lightning and Lisa gets the (melted) crown and scepter by default. After she starts railing against Laramie Cigarettes (a major sponsor of the contest, who wanted to use her to help market their products to kids), they get Lisa disqualified on a technicalitynote .
- "A Streetcar Named Marge" opens with the family watching a pageant which cleverly re-purposes Janis Ian's "At Seventeen" as its theme.
- Danny Phantom episode "Beauty Marked" where Soap Box Sadie Sam Manson joins the Beauty Pageant in her school to undermine it. The pageant is all just an elaborate ruse for the host to find a perfect bride for her jerk of a brother. Sam wins the contest either way, but refuses to take the tiara, stating its "stupid".
- One episode of Futurama has the crew delivering the crown to such a contest. Leela thinks the whole thing is sexist and stupid... until she thinks she won by accident when Zapp Brannigan, one of the judges, calls out her name in surprise. Though keep in mind that the contestants include a giant anemone and an apparent energy lifeform.
- King of the Hill episode "Peggy's Pageant Fever" had Peggy enter the Mrs. Heimlich County beauty pageant to win a new white pickup truck, only to find out that she was not as attractive, talented, or prolific at childbearing as her fellow contestants. Though her friend Nancy was a judge, they stop speaking to each other when Peggy implies that obvious blonde beauties don't deserve to win. Peggy hires a coach to help her succeed, but in the end Hank paints his truck white so that Peggy does not need to go through with the pageant (and ultimately humiliate herself.)
- A fairly minor example: in the first Code Lyoko episode, it's established that Kadic's annual "prom" (which acts more like a Friday night mixer) has a beauty contest. Sissi had won the contest the previous year, and is a contestant in the episode, going up against two background characters. The winner is never known, due to a giant teddy bear interrupting the announcement. No◊, really◊.
- The Tripping the Rift episode "Miss Galaxy 5000" has Six competing in one of these.
- The Fairly Oddparents has an episode based around this. Timmy's dad entered, despite it being an all-female contest. He won.
- In an episode of The Flintstones, Fred and Barney were roped into judging one. Wilma and Betty found out and entered; Fred and Barney, possibly fearing for their lives, declared them the winners.
- The Jetsons put a slight twist on the trope. George entered as a judge, but wore a very Paper-Thin Disguise to prevent Jane finding out he'd spent an evening judging beautiful women. Meanwhile, Jane entered independently, and also wore a disguise in case George happened to see. Naturally, George declared Jane the winner, but they were both disqualified when they discovered they were married.
- In the South Park episode "Dead Celebrities", Ike was possessed by Michael Jackson. The boys realize Jackson would only leave the body by gaining the acceptance he wanted in life. They figure they can achieve this by taking him to a children's beauty pageant.
- In the Family Guy episode "Boys Do Cry", Stewie is entered in the Little Miss Texas pageant as "Stephanie Griffin." The audience tries to chase him once his wig falls off.
- In the Rugrats episode "Beauty Contest", Tommy Pickles' father and grandfather, Stu and Lou, disguise Tommy as a girl and enter him in the Little Miss Lovely contest, unknowingly competing against his cousin, Angelica. Tommy's disqualified after Didi shows up and outs Tommy in anger. In a Hilarious in Hindsight moment, Lou realizes he could have just rooted for Angelica the entire time. She was his granddaughter, after all!
- An episode of Recess has the Ashleys enter Spinelli in the "Little Miss Blush Beauty Pageant" (a pageant for 10 year olds) as a joke. Spinelli decides to get the Ashleys back by winning the contest. She does
- ''Transformers Rescue Bots has the Miss Griffin Rock contest. It features speed calculus.
- The Smurfs had a gender-flipped version called the Mr. Smurf Contest in the episode of the same name, where the male Smurfs competed to be the one who would take Smurfette to the Harvest Ball as her escort. As it turned out, Smurfette couldn't decide which of the contestants would be the winner, so she judged all contestants to be the winners. Also, one of the contestants was Gargamel, who had disguised himself as a Smurf, but as his disguise wore off, he ended up being no bigger than a Smurf and thus was cast out of the village.
- And there was also a Miss Dark Ages Beauty Show in "The Golden Smurf Award", which ironically consisted of old hags competing for being the "most beautiful" of them all, and for which Hogatha was attempting to make herself beautiful by using Smurfs as part of her beauty regimen.
- Miss America, Miss World, Miss USA, Miss Universe.
- The former Governor of Alaska won a local one and came second in her state one.
- Miss University UK got some considerable protests from university students.
- Kristin Chenoweth, star of Wicked and Pushing Daisies, started out in beauty pageants.
- As did Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry and Jeri Ryan.
- The Rose of Tralee (non-Irish viewers may be more familiar with it's parody the "Lovely Girls" competition in Father Ted).
- As mentioned above, there are children's beauty pageants, and they are Serious Business to the point of child abuse. In one news expose, a hidden camera was put in the changing rooms, and captured such things as a father bragging about getting his 8-year-old daughter breast implants, then making her take off her top and bouncing her up and down to show another father "how well they jiggle." Eugh.
- Wives and concubines for Asian harems often were picked by a variation of this.