chapter  8
28 Pages

Out of the ideal home

Beauty contests have extravagance, glitter and fantasy, but not recognizable human beings. They present tableaux of swimwear-clad female torsos, scrutinized, evaluated and ranked byjudgemental males whosejob is to select the ultimate identikit 'beauty queen'. The Mecca Organization started its Miss World Competition to coincide with the Festival of Britain, held in 1951 on the centenary of the Great Exhibition. It was very much part ofthe effort to break free ofthe austerity ofthe postwar 'reconstruction' period, pandering, as it did, to the British male's pursuit of pleasure. Mecca boss Eric Morley's box-office opportunism saw him· draw together aesthetically pleasing, available young females (married women were ineligible) fronl all corners of the globe and pitch them against each other in a survival gatne in which the 'fittest' emerged to be crowned.