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Beauty Contest

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"Mr. Mayor, you are well aware on my views on women's rights, and there can never be anything proper in young women being shown off like cattle for the sexual gratification of a lot of drooling men."
Councillor Augusta Prodworthy, Carry On Girls

A staple of pop culture, a beauty contest/pageant is a competition where people (usually women, but there are special beauty pageants for men) are judged (primarily) by their physical appearance and social grace. In most pageants, contestants are expected to model an evening gown and a swimsuitnote , display a performance talent, and answer an interview question about a current hot topic (it's not their opinion itself that's judged, but their ability to diplomatically express themselves). Expect the winner to be given a rhinestone tiara, sash, and scepter (and/or a bouquet of flowers) while the host sings her praises.

In fiction, if there is a Straw Feminist in the regular cast, she will complain about how she finds this sort of thing to be sexist and demeaning to women (which is actually a common complaint/criticism for beauty pageants). As these things go, she will often be forced to enter the competition for some story reason and is likely to learn An Aesop that there's way more to pageants than what a lot of people think, such as:

  1. Whether you're a contestant or one of the pageant organizers, there's a lot of work that goes into preparing for a pageant, and it can actually be rather stressful for pretty much everyone involved.
  2. While looks are certainly a strong factor when it comes to choosing a winner in a beauty pageant, most (if not all) beauty pageants, especially in recent years, do actually take more than just looks into consideration when it comes to choosing a winner.

Historically, these events have usually been Always Female in fiction. Should a man disguised as a woman nonetheless happen to compete in a straight pageant, he'll usually end up doing quite well—at least until he gets caught and subsequently disqualified. In the 21st century, media has increasingly represented the tradition of drag pageants in the gay scene, where female impersonators and their fans can enjoy the same sort of thing. Due to the potential struggles LGBT+ beauty queens face, this setting can sometimes be used as an approximate adult equivalent to the way Prom Is for Straight Kids works for a high school story.

In order to promote inclusivity and tolerance, most recent fictional depictions of a beauty contest will usually feature a very racially diverse cast. Thus, in addition to the sweet, blonde and blue-eyed all-American Girl Next Door (and her rival, the similarly complected but mean Alpha Bitch), expect the finalists to include a sassy black girl, a fiery Hispanic girl, a ditzy Asian girl, and perhaps a clever Jewish girl, as well as at least one cute lesbian girl (who may or may not be public about it just yet).

Child beauty pageants are notorious for the antics of Stage Moms, especially the ones who don't even bother asking their daughters if they actually want to compete in it.

Good place to murder someone too.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ah! My Goddess: Belldandy won the school pageant. Sayoko was not pleased.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • There's one in Fairy Tail where the main seven female guild members participate. Then Evergreen comes forth and petrify them, but this is another story.
  • There apparently is one going on in the School Festival in Gokinjo Monogatari, but the characters ignore it rather spectacularly.
  • In K, signs around Ashinaka High School advertise an "Ashinaka Ikemen Contest" at the school festival.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch has the "Mermaid Contest".
  • The title character in Miss Machiko entered in a few of these. There was one episode in which she lost, which is surprising since everyone was in love with her.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ōkami-san had a beauty contest episode, and all of the main female characters competed. The crossdressing Otogi Bank president was the winner.
  • This happens in an episode of Pokémon: The Original Series, called "Beauty and the Beach", which is infamous for being banned because of James giving himself a giant pair of inflatable breasts.
    • Subverted in the episode "Princess vs Princess". Misty and Jessie enter the Princess Festival, assuming it's a Beauty Contest. It does start off with the contestants on stage in formal wear...only for the judges to then reveal it's actually a Pokémon tournament.
  • Ai, Mai, Mii and Mea enter one in Popotan. Mii wins, despite (or, more likely, because of) her age.
  • An episode of Ranma ˝ had Ranma-chan, Akane, Ukyo, Kodachi, Shampoo and Tsubasa enter a (beach) beauty contest organized by Nabiki for various reasons. The winner? Kasumi, who was acting as the assistant and not actually taking part in the contest.
  • 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.
  • The gang force Natsumi to take part in one in an episode of Sgt. Frog. Thanks to a little accident with a growth ray, the poor girl ends up traumatized.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • Beauty contests, often of an impromptu sort, were a staple of stand-alone Archie Comics stories during The '70s and The '80s 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).

    Comic Strips 
  • The Wacky Adventures of Pedro has one storyline in which Pedro helps judge the "Miss Galactic Nebula" pageant on planet Owrplannit. The title goes to Miss Enigma de Incognito, who claims to come from the planet Riddle. However, after she wins the pageant, she reveals herself as the wealthy Earth woman Emeralda von Snootz, come to take Pedro back home to Earth.

    Fan Works 
  • Ruby Pair: The plot of "My Fair Tenn" is built around the skool hosting one of these, the Miss Skoolyard Pageant. Tenn enters to spite Jessica, while Dib convinces Gaz to enter and keep an eye on Tenn because he's certain that it's part of an Evil Plan.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous is a darkly comedic satire of beauty pageants in general.
  • As is Smile.
  • Elliot Page's character in Whip It starts out a (reluctant) pageant girl.
  • Carry On Girls from the Carry On... Series is based around the town of Fircombe holding a Miss Fircombe Contest to raise tourism, while Augusta Prodworthy and her Women's Lib group try to stop it with hilarious consequences.
  • 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—she ends up doing relatively well in the competition and befriends some of the other contestants.
  • 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.
  • Scary Movie: Spoofed in the first movie. At a beauty pageant Buffy says that she's gonna do a dramatic reading, then witnesses her boyfriend Greg being murdered on the auditorium balcony by the masked killer. She breaks down in tears pleading for help, but the judges think it's All Part of the Show and declare her the winner for her "convincing performance".
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer, which Scary Movie is parodying, opens with Helen winning a local beauty contest - to become the Croaker Queen. She wears the crown all night.
  • Earth Girls Are Easy - Julie Brown, singing "'Cause I'm a Blonde" in a beach movie setting, snatches a tiara off a "Blonde of the Month" beauty contest winner along with her blonde wig, revealing her as a - horrors - brunette.
  • Iron Man 3 had a Beauty Contest that allowed Tony to hijack an uplink to contact his home server. On the monitor in the background, Stan Lee's cameo is one of the judges.
  • Two films, The Polka King (a biopic) and The Man Who Would Be Polka King (a documentary) document the rise and fall of Jan Lewan, a Polish singer who, after defecting to the U.S., formed a polka band and became hugely popular on the Pennsylvania polka circuit, making money not only from his concert tours, but from a gift shop, a travel agency, and a Ponzi scheme. His downfall starts when his wife Marla enters the Mrs. Pennsylvania beauty contest and wins, sparking a controversy when the judges all claim that they didn't vote for her. Jan was discovered to have disappeared from the audience for a short period of time during the contest, and this triggers speculation that he may have bribed the organizers of the pageant into giving his wife the title. Marla is eventually stripped of the title, though she refuses to return her crown and continues to claim she won fair and square. After this, the Pennsylvania SEC catches up to Lewen's Ponzi scheme, and it all goes downhill from there.
  • To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar: The film's Framing Device is a Drag Queen pageant. Vida Bohemme and Noxeema Jackson tie for a state-level pageant in New York and win a trip to Los Angeles for the national. When young competitor Chi Chi Rodriguez is distraught that she lost, they decide to take her with them and school her in the art of drag along the way. The movie does contain a tiny bit of Artistic License regarding drag pageantry though: Chi Chi would not be allowed to compete in a national pageant without an affiliated regional title first.
  • The Muppet Movie has Miss Piggy being introduced winning one of these, judged by Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.
    Charlie: You're not gonna believe who the winner is, folks.
    Bergen: Oh, come now, Charlie, it's their movie.

  • 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 a magic girdle… and each other! The beauty contest entrants are judged for their beauty but the magic girdle can only be won by a chaste and faithful soul. The princess they pick to win (who's really a clone — long, sad story) tries over and over to put it on but can’t, and though second-place can wear the prize, the princess-clone keeps the prize and the win for herself. The winning knight passes up the prize of a date due to being secretly female.
  • 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.
  • Black Widowers: In "Miss What?", the guest tells the story of a religious fanatic targeting a beauty pageant called Miss Globe and planning to murder one of the contestants. The Miss Globe contest had entrants representing geographical regions as well as countries.
  • Walker's Crossing: Ryan and Gil's sister Charlene is campaigning to be rodeo queen and is annoyed that Gil's extremism reflects poorly on her.
  • Jaine Austen Mysteries: Death by Tiara centers around Jaine getting work from a client to write lyrics for her daughter, to perform an original song for the pageant she is entering in.
  • Last Night at the Telegraph Club: Lily’s best friend Shirley enters the Miss Chinatown contest and recruits Lily to help her prepare for the contest.
  • Used and arguably justified in "The Lady, or the Tiger?" — the king's trials always end with the 'defendant' dead (by tiger) or married (to a woman appropriate to his age and station). When the princess's boyfriend is sent to face the Door Roulette, "the ranks of maiden youth and beauty throughout the land [are] carefully surveyed by competent judges" to give him a fitting reward if he is acquitted.

    Live-Action TV 
  • There seems to be an explosion of reality TV featuring particularly egregious examples of how terrible beauty pageants can be — a notable example being Toddlers & Tiaras — though, to the participants, it's Serious Business.
  • Bones - Brennan was surprised that the little girls had already learned how to be Alpha Bitches in the first grade. The pageant shown was hilariously low-budget compared to the real thing (for starters most of the kids used their own hair instead of wigs and their dresses were normal party dresses instead of sequined mini-ballroom dance contest monstrosities).
  • CSI: Miami's child beauty pageant episode had much better costuming and featured a sex-offender running the pageant who kidnapped one of the kids; he's the one Horatio infamously allowed to fall to his death.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit had an episode where the detectives investigate the kidnapping of a young contest from the Little Miss Lovely pageant.
  • The NCIS episode "Bikini Wax" has a female naval petty officer found dead in the toilets at one of these contests. Tony and the objectification of women are two things that mix explosively...
    Kate: Give him 5 seconds...
    McGee: Until what?
    Kate: Until he notices there's a ...
    Tony: Bikini contest?!
    Gibbs: (off-screen) It's over, DiNozzo!
  • Saved by the Bell:
    • The show did one over the Miss Bayside tournament. Straw Feminist Jessie protested and Slater made a bet with Zack that Screech couldn't win it. When Mr Belding agrees to let men enter the contest, Jessie and Slater also enter. Jessie however still opposes the swimsuit round and appears wearing a trenchcoat - but still describes what bathing suit she's wearing underneath "for those of you who like that sort of thing".
    • Earlier in the series, Kelly had a dream sequence featuring a contest between Zack and Slater - wherein she'd decide which boy to date. We only see the evening round and Kelly declares Slater the winner. But when Zack tells the interviewer he just wants Kelly to be happy, Kelly wakes up and decides to ask him out.
  • The Bionic Woman episode "Bionic Beauty". Jaime Sommers enters the Miss United States contest in order to uncover an espionage operation.
  • Twin Peaks closes its second season with a Miss Twin Peaks beauty pageant, with the main female characters competing.
  • The Tru Calling episode "Drop Dead Gorgeous" centers around a beauty contest.
  • The Steve Harvey Show has Bullethead entering (and winning!) the Miss Booker T. Pageant to spite Lydia and win a computer.
  • Parodied in Arrested Development with an "Inner Beauty Contest". Maeby tried to prove a point about how, in spite of the hype, they would pick the prettiest girl by dressing up as her homely, wheelchair-bound alter-ego Shirley. To her surprise, she still made it to the finals (as did Anne). In the end, she decides to bow out, feeling she doesn't deserve to win, only for the judges and audience to declare her sudden ability to walk as a miracle and award her first place anyway.
  • The boys in Malcolm in the Middle enters their mother Lois into the "Miss Tri-County" pageant as a joke. She is so flattered by the sentiment, which she thinks is genuine, that she gave it a go. After much back-stabbing and sabotage by the other contestants, she takes the prize after showing off her talent at whistling.
  • A Charlie's Angels episode has the title characters entering the "Miss Chrysanthemum" pageant to find out who's frightening away the contestants.
  • Coronation Street had a storyline where the soap's Camp Gay Sean tried to pick up a guy at the gym by pretending Jason was his boyfriend. One drunken night led to him being crowned 'Mr Gay Weatherfield', despite him being straight.
    Jason: (while drunk) Don't tell them. They'll take my sash away.
  • A Dukes of Hazzard episode has Boss Hogg backing Daisy in the "Miss Tri-Counties" pageant against a rival county boss's contestant. After Daisy wins the talent competitions, she's kidnapped by the rival boss's henchmen to prevent her from competing in the swimsuit portion.
  • The Andy Griffith Show: "The Beauty Contest."
  • Gilligan's Island, episode “Beauty Is as Beauty Does". Mary Ann, Mrs. Howell and Ginger fight to become “Miss Castaway". With the Skipper, Mr. Howell and the Professor each coaching and rooting for a different girl, the deciding vote is now up to Gilligan!
  • In the final Thanksgiving Episode of Friends, Phoebe and Rachel enter Emma in a beauty pageant for infants. Ross is outraged about this at first, but changes his tune when he hears Emma won a thousand dollars.
  • Happy Days, "Beauty Contest". Richie, Ralph and Potsie put on a fake "Miss Arnold's" beauty pageant.
  • In the Jonas episode "Beauty and The Beat", the titular brothers are appointed judges for the "Miss Most Amazing Teen Competition". Stella, who is jealous of the beauty pagent girls, retaliates by joining the contest at the last second and tries to win. However, she ends up embarrassing herself and loses due to stage fright.
  • In the Smallville episode "Fierce", Kara won the Miss Sweet Corn contest.
  • In the Shake it Up episode "Glitz It Up", Cece and Rocky choreograph the "Little Miss Cutie Queen Pageant" (a beauty contest for 5 year-old girls) and mentor a tomboy contestant by turning her into a "beauty queen". She ends up winning the contest.
  • In the Parks and Recreation episode "Beauty Pageant", Leslie becomes a Rogue Juror for one of these. Leslie wants to give the prize to an intelligent woman who does charity work while the rest of the judging panel favors a super-hot vapid moron. During the talent portion, the latter contestant impresses the judges other than Leslie with her "talent" of baton twirling, which consisted of nothing other than dancing sexily while holding a baton. Also, April enters the contest for the six hundred dollar prize, but quits in the middle of the competition when she learns it's six hundred dollars in gift certificates rather than six hundred dollars cash. Incidentally, April's talent was performing "impressions" in her usual deadpan voice.
  • A Get Smart episode had Max protecting a contestant in a pageant against the usual intrigue. At show's end, after a few killings, he apologizes for having her witness such cruelty and treachery. She shrugs it off, saying "I'm used to it...after all, it is my third beauty pageant."
  • One episode of Quantum Leap has Sam leaping into a young (female) beauty pageant contestant. His mission is to prevent the life of another contestant from being ruined by a sleazy photographer.
  • The first real mini-arc of Kamen Rider Fourze focuses on Amanogawa High School's annual beauty pageant, which has been won two years running by Alpha Bitch Miu. The Monster of the Week (one of her Girl Posse) tries to defeat her with an Engineered Public Confession, but Miu manages to win back the crowd and is crowned not just because she's hot but because she demonstrates that she actually cares about the school and students.
  • In the Amazing Stories episode "Miss Stardust", a beauty contest is crashed by an alien ("Weird Al" Yankovic) who threatens to destroy Earth unless the contest lives up to its name — Miss Galaxy — and allows contestants from other planets to participate (and ideally win). To make matters trickier, the new entrants aren't Human Aliens...
  • The Suite Life had two. In one of the first episodes the hotel hosts a Mini Miss pageant and while Cody tries to talk to a girl he likes, he ends up disguising himself wearing a wig and then taking part to win money for bikes. In On Deck, Zack and his friends try to setup a fake pageant to meet pretty girls, but Moseby catches them and forces them to actually arrange a pageant as punishment, without having contact with the participants. Bailey and London both take part, with Cody as Bailey's coach because he has been in a beauty pageant before.
  • Married... with Children: Kelly enters and wins a few minor contests, including one for Al's favorite "food", Weenie Tots.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: In "Frank Reynolds' Little Beauties", Frank gets an offer to host one. He says yes, thinking he'll get to see a bunch of hot twenty-somethings in bikinis. It turns out to be a children's beauty pageant. Frank gets increasingly worried others might think he's a pedophile. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Univisión's Nuestra Belleza Latina is a Reality Show spin on the beauty contest formula. The head judge, Osmel Souza, is the man behind the many wins of Venzuela's candidates in several international contests, so he may be the harshest reality judge this side of Hell's Kitchen
  • The reality show The Swan featured a group of women undergoing radical changes with plastic surgery and the series finale put all the women in a pageant. Said pageant had an evening gown round, swimsuit round and lingerie round.
  • RuPaul's Drag Race:
    • Pageantry is a major part of drag culture (explained further in the Real Life section), and queens who regularly compete in pageants are frequent contestants on the show. Because they're competitive by nature and emphasize traditional "high-femme" drag, pageant queens have a reputation on the show for being Alpha Bitches that look down on unconventional, low-brow queens.note  "Pageant Queens vs Comedy Queens" is shorthand for this rivalry. However, a few of the nicer pageant girls have become fan favorites, like Alyssa Edwards, Nina West, and Season 12 winner Jaida Essence Hall.
    • The show also takes a page from pageantry by awarding "Miss Congeniality" to the kindest queen of the season. Originally, fans voted on the recipient, but this practice was criticized by the queens since viewers would simply pick the fan-favorite regardless of her personality. Come Season 10, irregularities in the voting system caused the results to be scrapped and the show had the queens themselves vote for Miss Congeniality like in actual pageants. Viewers accepted the winner, Monet X. Change, since she likely would've won the fan vote anyway, and the show has done it this way ever since.
    • Surprisingly, RuPaul herself has never competed in pageants during her performing years, possibly the one traditional drag venture she never pursued.
  • In the Seinfeld episode, The Chaperone, Jerry dates Miss Rhode Island, who is competing in the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, and Kramer becomes her mentor. He gives surprisingly good advice, given that he's watched every Miss America pageant since he was six years old.
  • Dawson's Creek has an early episode of Joey trying to earn money for school and Pacey entering the contest as a male contestant who performs Film/Braveheart "Never Take Our Land" speech.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: In "Dancing with the Angels", Jerry and Theresa enter Max, who's been transformed into a little girl named Maxine, into a beauty pageant as a Cool and Unusual Punishment for not telling them that Alex, Justin and Harper snuck off to an angels' club with Rosie. To make matters worse, Maxine won the pageant.
  • Wonder Woman: In "Beauty on Parade" Diana enters a beauty contest that the Big Bad is using as a cover to try to assassinate General Eisenhower. Diana joins over Steve Trevor's objections that they'd need "...a really gorgeous girl. Someone who looks great in a bathing suit." (There are other explanations for this idiocy). No introspection is made on how Diana disappeared from the pageant and Wonder Woman wins it. Apparently, catching bazooka shells out of midair won the talent portion.
  • The In the Heat of the Night episode "The Fairest One Of All" featured one of these, with a contestant committing suicide and a fellow contestant being horrified to eventually learn that her Stage Mom was behind it—she was so bent on her daughter winning that she arranged for someone to drug the girl, take nude pictures of her, then blackmail her into dropping out. When the other girl did indeed win, she stormed off the stage, flung the sash and crown at her mother, snarled "You wanted it so bad, here it is!", then stormed out. (Her mother had been pushing her into these pageants for years even though she wasn't really interested, and worse yet, she was friends with the other girl and practically wanted her to win, even explicitly saying, "This should be her crown.")
  • On Modern Family, it is mentioned multiple times throughout the series that Gloria competed in and won beauty pageants back in Colombia. Her talent in these pageants was a ventriloquist act using an old man dummy named Mr. Grumpy. She explains that she did this to make herself stand out against the other contestants- they all juggled knives.
  • The Golden Girls:
    • The episode "An Illegitimate Concern" has a mother-daughter variant of this, and Sophia enlists Dorothy into it with the aim of winning against an old rival of hers in mind.
    • The episode "Beauty and the Beast" has three examples, with one being shown and two only mentioned.
      • The Little Miss Miami Beauty Pageant that Blanche has her granddaughter signed up for is the plot-relevant example. Problems arise when Blanche herself quickly becomes a "stage grandmother" and her granddaughter soon grows tired of the whole event.
      • Rose mentions that she participated in the Little Miss St. Olaf beauty pageant and lost — 23 years in a row.
      • Dorothy herself competed and lost in the Little Miss Brooklyn beauty contest — where Sophia was a judge and didn't vote for her.
  • One episode of Reba, called "The Pageant of Grandmas", has one for grandmothers as a school fundraiser, fittingly called "pageant of grandmas", as Jake mentions to Reba. Jake signs Reba up for it, but Barbra Jean wants to enter it herself once she catches wind of it, and because each household is allowed to have only one contestant, the main conflict in the episode is about Reba and Barbra Jean competing for that one spot.
  • An episode of Riverdale called "Miss Teen Riverdale" hosts the "Miss Riverdale Teen Queen" pagent between the girls at Riverdale High. After Midge was disqualified for being pregnant, Betty convinces Ethel, who dreams about winning Miss Riverdale Teen Queen, to enter the pageant instead. Despite initially being against Ethel joining, Betty's mother eventually changes her mind and even crowns Ethel winner even though the judges voted for Betty.

  • Live Through This by Hole. Alluded to on the album cover and in the track "Miss World".
  • This is the setting for Beyoncé's "Pretty Hurts" video.

    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 nameHera, 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, Paris, to make the choice (because being beautiful makes you a great judge of beauty). When Paris couldn't decide, they stripped and let him see them naked. When he still couldn't decide, they each tried to bribe him — Athena offered wisdom and fighting skill, Hera offered all of Asia, and Aphrodite offered the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta. 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 is Esther. Older Than Feudalism.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • 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.
  • Predictably the all-women's season of NXT featured a Halloween costume contest as one of the challenges (the male seasons didn't).
  • The most famous wrestling bikini contest of all happened at Fully Loaded 1998. Jacqueline took on Sable - and memorably Sable lifted up her top to reveal her bare breasts with handprints painted on. She won on the basis of crowd reaction but Vince disqualified her on a technicality: she didn't technically wear a bathing suit.
  • WWE parodied this one in 2002 with Terri Runnels against Molly Holly. Molly claimed that Jerry Lawler would go wild when he saw what was under her robe - and revealed a demure 50s bathing suit with bathing cap, snorkel and flippers.
  • Oddly enough, Molly's first gimmick in WCW was as a pageant girl called Miss Madness. Her Pimped-Out Dress would also double as her ring gear - albeit with a removable skirt for mobility.
  • The other beauty contest from the Attitude Era was the Miss Rumble contest at the 2000 Royal Rumble - featuring celebrity guests as judges. After lots of Fanservice - including The Kat showing off a bikini made of bubble wrap - Mae Young predictably interrupted and bared her breasts (which had prosthetics on them to make them even more repulsive) - and was declared the winner. Mae Young was in her seventies at the time.
  • Before she went on to fame in WWE, Lita did a pageant girl character called Miss Congeniality in ECW.
  • There was actually a rare male example as part of the 4th season of Tough Enough. The contestants had to seduce Mae Young. Memorably it featured The Miz in a sexy Santa outfit. Yes, really.
  • The Beautiful People had one in an attempt to haze newer TNA Knockout Taylor Wilde, though she ended up winning over Angelina Love.
  • Madison Rayne also evoked this in her 'Queen Bee' gimmick in TNA. She would wear a sash and tiara - and smile vapidly while waving as she walked down to the ring. She is also a former Pageant Queen in real life.
  • Developmental Diva Veronica Lane had this as her gimmick. She called herself 'Miss NXT' and leaked videos from a promo class showed her cutting a promo like a speech from the personality round. In real life she is a former Pageant Queen. However she opted to leave WWE before she could appear on TV.
  • During a The Oddities segment, Kurrgan, dressed in a suit, sang the "Miss America" song for Luna Vachon on the June 8, 1998 Raw, who was not the kind of woman for whom that song was usually sung.

  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • F-Zero
  • 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.
  • The game WWF Smackdown 2: Know Your Role would occasionally feature Diva beauty contests in Career Mode - on episodes of Raw and Smackdown. Even Stephanie McMahon sometimes took part.
  • Dragon Quest VI features such a contest for rare gear and an optional party member. Sadly, there are no graphics, so you'll just have to imagine the sight of Carver sashaying around in nothing put boxer shorts and a pot lid. There's also some Ping Pong Naďveté displayed by your friends, who wonder why one creep likes to sit right next to the edge and look up...
  • Puyo Puyo: Draco Centauros' fascination with them is her defining trait; for example, the only reason she accompanied Arle at all in her quest to find Carbuncle in Yo~n was because she thought Dark Prince was hosting a beauty contest. By 20th Anniversary, it has gotten so bad that she mistakes a Puyo match (which, in this series, is Serious Business) for a beauty contest. However, it is somewhat justified in the Sega Saturn Madou Monogatari, where competing in beauty contests is how she makes a living.

    Web Animation 
  • ATTACK on MIKA: Habumi forces Suzuka into a swimsuit contest, in order to embarrass her and make her serve as a foil to her so she will have Shouya all to herself. However, when Suzuka takes off her towel, she turns out to be better-looking than Habumi.
  • 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.
  • Manga Soprano: Like the ATTACK on MIKA example mentioned above, Erika forces Kanade into a swimsuit contest in order to embarrass her and make her serve as a foil to her so she will have Alto all to herself. However, when Kanade takes off her hoodie, she turns out to be better-looking than Erika.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
    • The winner of the Miss Springfield pageant is a recurring minor character and Mayor Quimby's mistress. She's always seen wearing her "Miss Springfield" sash.
  • Danny Phantom episode "Beauty Marked" where Soapbox 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 it's "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 the contestants include a giant anemone and an apparent energy lifeform.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Mandy enters one against Mindy in "My Fair Mandy".
  • 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 and receives a stunning makeover, but can't get over her awkwardness. 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.
    • Originally, Mr. Spacely was going to be the judge and wore a domino mask so he could be advertised as "The Mystery Judge." While signing autographs before the pageant, his wife found out and hauled him off, and George had to take over as judge in his place.
  • 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 (1991) 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 is his granddaughter, after all!
  • An episode of Recess has the Ashleys enter Spinelli in the "Little Miss Blush Beauty Pageant" (a pageant for 9 or 10-year-olds) as a joke. Spinelli decides to get the Ashleys back by winning the contest. She does.
  • One episode of Pepper Ann "One Of The Guys" has the titular character involved in the beauty pageant to prove her femininity, after she joined the boys for athletic activities.
  • Transformers: Rescue Bots has the Miss Griffin Rock contest. It features speed calculus.
  • The Smurfs (1981) 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.
  • Muppet Babies (1984) had an episode centered on the babies learning about Greek mythology. One segment shown was the beauty contest among Hera (played by Miss Piggy), Athena (played by Skeeter) and Aphrodite (played by Camilla the chicken). Needless to say, Piggy isn't pleased that Aphrodite wins.
  • The Cramp Twins featured Lucien entering a beauty contest for the local girls. Dorothy becomes a Stage Mom and has him go onstage in an evening gown. At the end, however, she realizes that the contest has been rigged: Mr Winkle buying judges Marcia and Tandy expensive gifts to get them to vote for Wendy. It's implied this is the reason Wendy has been the winner for several years. After there's a scuffle over the crown, Dorothy ends up with it and picks herself as the winner.
  • There's a magical beauty contest in American Dragon: Jake Long which Jake has to escort a contestant to the event as well as investigate it. It was set up by an evil wizard, Eli Pandarus, who would find the most beautiful woman in existence as part of a spell for ultimate magic. When the original contestant can't compete, Fu Dog enters instead and wins the event, screwing up the villain's scheme. To add to the weirdness, the host of the pageant is Monty Hall, who's not only aware of Pandarus' plot, he's in on it, so he can become the "World's Most Powerful Game Show Host" (attempting to take the title from fellow Canadian Alex Trebek).
  • Winx Club has Miss Magix in the first season, with both beauty and talent portions, a strict no-magic rule, and the Trix sabotaging the talent portion. Stella is the runner-up to Lucy, who had the Trix' help to become beautiful with magic... And has the Trix give her back her true looks immediately after she's crowned.
    • There are two rather funny particulars not mentioned above: first, one of the contestants of Miss Magix looks identical to Aisha (who debuted the following season), the series' resident tomboy; second, the public includes Faragonda and Griselda, two powerful and experienced fairies, seated next to the Trix, implying that their sabotage may have been part of the contest.
  • Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh has tomboy Tip enter a beauty contest in her own fiercely competitive way. She becomes so determined to win that when she actually has a decent shot at it, she notices she no longer even remotely recognizes herself at all, and immediately changes herself back, costing her the competition.
    Lucy: I'd rather you lose by being yourself than win by being someone you're not.
    Tip: Thanks, Mom.
  • Lola Loud from The Loud House regularly competes in beauty pageants, and this has served as the plot point for several episodes:
  • The Looney Tunes Show: In "Year of the Duck", Daffy is outraged that the Chinese Zodiac does not include ducks, and he thinks it's because ducks don't have a positive image. Daffy enters Tina in the Royal Oaks Glen Oaks Oakwood Oaks Country Club's beauty pageant to give ducks a better image for the public, though she thinks he's more qualified for it.
    Tina: I'm not the beauty pageant type.
    Daffy: Oh, of course you are. You're constantly at the salon, you spend hours in front of the mirror, and you're always prancing around the house in a tiara.
    Tina: That's you.

    Real Life 
  • Numerous beauty pageants all over the globe, with the "Big Four" international pageants being Miss Universe (considered the most prestigious pageant in the world), Miss World, Miss International, and Miss Earth (which has an environmental focus).
  • In the United States, the two highest-profile pageants are Miss America and Miss USA, the difference between the two being that Miss America is a standalone pageant and one of the longest-running in the world, while Miss USA finds the American contestants for Miss Universe and Miss Worldnote . Several American actresses got their start in beauty pageants, such as Lee Merriweather (Miss America 1955), Kristin Chenoweth (runner-up for Miss Oklahoma 1981), Michelle Pfeiffer (Miss Orange County 1978), Lynda Carter (Miss World USA 1972), Halle Berry (Miss Ohio USA 1984, runner-up for Miss USA), Jeri Ryan (Miss Illinois 1989), and Vanessa Williams (Miss America 1984) note 
  • French beauty pageants who famously branched off into other fields include actress Claudine Auger (Miss France Monde 1958, first runner-up at Miss World 1958), Linda Hardy (Miss France 1992, became an actress and TV host) and Delphine Wespiser (winner of Miss France 2012, she's the dual characters of Blanche and Rouge in the Game Show Fort Boyard since 2013).
  • Extremely Serious Business in the Philippines, probably because the country excels at few other things (save perhaps for boxing and singing). Filipino popular history is full of successful winners and runners-up of innumerable such contests—not a year goes by without someone at least partly—in fact, usually part—Filipina making the news in an international beauty pageant—and contestants are often treated like goddesses at home, almost Hunger Games-style, and becoming targets for advertising/film/television contracts collectively worth millions. The aforementioned Miss Earth pageant, for one, was first conceptualized in the Philippines in 2001, and the country has been thematically connected to Miss Universe itself ever since the very first winner in 1952 married a Filipino man. The tradition is most likely traceable back to U.S. colonial rule (which introduced proto-pageants such as the Manila Carnival), combined with the Spanish-influenced love for quasi-religious town fiestas, and is perfectly reasonable given Filipinos' colonial mentality.
  • Also serious business in Latin America. Since the region produces some of the most beautiful women on the planet, it's no surprise that it not only has several beauty pageants in individual countries, but it tends to dominate international contests as well. How seriously do they take it? When Steve Harvey accidentally crowned Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez, in the 2015 Miss Universe pageant and had to take it back, she minced no words telling the media how humiliated she felt and she even considered suing, and Harvey received death threats from her countrymen. It took him inviting her to his talk show and publicly apologizing for her to forgive him. note 
  • The Afro-Caribbean is another region that takes international beauty contests quite seriously. The countries and territories of the region tend to be poor, with populations ranging from a hundred thousand to a couple million, so being able to send representatives to global pageants is a source of national pride, even if they seldom win the top prize. Not counting the Latin countries, the last Caribbean to win Miss Universe was Miss Trinidad and Tobago, Wendy Fitzwilliam, in 1998. However, the first black Miss Universe was also Trinidadian, Janelle Commissiong, who won in 1977.
  • Sarah Palin, the former Governor of Alaska, won a local one and came in third for the state, meaning yes, Palin potentially could have been Miss America.
  • Miss University UK got some considerable protests from university students.
  • 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.
  • Harlan Ellison wrote a searing piece on child beauty pageants in his "Glass Teat" column in 1970. What he is describing is the "World's Our Little Miss" pageant. Which still exists today.
    ...the really sick ones are the parents. Feeding their own failed dreams on the flesh of their children. How much money, how many grueling hours of training go into battering a child to perform like a monkey? How much surrogate pleasure do the manipulators vampirically enjoy molding a child to dance and spin and raise her voice to God in song, so she can tremble like a pneumonia victim for an audience of clothing merchants?
  • Wives and concubines for Asian harems often were picked by a variation of this.
  • As mentioned multiple times earlier, Drag Queens have their own pageants, usually held by individual gay bars, though there are regional and national competitions as well. In the United States, where pageantry is a huge part of drag culture, the "Big Four" are Miss Gay America, Miss US of A, Miss Continental, and Entertainer of the Year. What sets drag pageants apart is that they often have separate competitive classes to be more inclusive, such as Miss US of A At Large for plus-sized queens, Miss Continental Elite for contestants over the age of 40, and Mr. Continental for drag kings. Whether or not Transgender performers are allowed to compete varies by pageant; some allow it, while others mandate that the contestants cannot have had any feminizing surgery or take hormones, leading to a Broken Base as to whether the policy is discriminatory or simply seeks to even the playing field.
  • Gay men who aren't drag queens also have pageants, with similar categories as the ladies (though the swimwear portion is usually replaced with underwear). Fetish subcultures like leather and rubber also have annual contests, but they'll take offense if you call it a pageant. While these competitions are predominantly held in Western nations, every year a few brave souls from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean enter as well, often risking family shame and their own safety when they do so.
  • Bikini contests such as Miss Bikini International are a variation of this but the obvious emphasis on swimsuits.
  • Bodybuilding competitions are this as well, except that the judging criteria is muscle size/definition, among others. Female contests have a Bikini division, which has faced several criticisms of the suggestive poses the contestants often have to do.

Alternative Title(s): Beauty Pageant