Three failed Miss France beauty pageant contestants have joined a leading feminist group in suing the contest for alleged discrimination based on their appearance.
Miss France, the country’s 101-year-old beauty pageant, is being sued by a feminist activist group and three unsuccessful applicants over alleged discriminatory entry requirements.
An appeal has been filed against the pageant’s parent company, Endemol Production, by Osez le féminisme (Dare to be feminist), who in a news statement said Miss France contestants perform a work service and therefore should be protected from prejudice under French employment law.
Discrimination against employees on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, family situation, or genetic characteristics is considered unlawful in France.
The beauty pageant reportedly is looking for candidates who are at least five-foot-five and had never been married or had children, as seen in an application form for 2021.
Contestants are also not allowed to gain weight, change their hair, or have tattoos or piercings other than their ears.
The rules say contestants must not have had children and have never married. Previous aspiring beauty queens have been kicked out of the competition for acting ‘contrary to good morals, to public order or in the spirit of the contest, which is based on the values of elegance.’
“Beyond exploiting women for economic gain, this contest, through the violations of the law of which it is guilty, has a negative and retrograde impact on the whole of society,” wrote Osez le féminisme in its news statement. “It is high time Endemol Production finally removes all sexist clauses from its regulations.”
Despite this, the old-school beauty pageant, which sees women parade in swimsuits and ballgowns while answering questions about their personality, is still a popular feature on French TV, with the annual show regularly drawing in millions of viewers.
Miss France declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by AFP but the 2002 winner Sylvie Tellier – who runs the organization – insisted to the Daily Telegraph that the contest promotes women’s rights.
“You can parade in a swimsuit and be a feminist. We are no longer in the days of “look beautiful and shut up”,” she said.