Miss World Pageant Ditching Bikini Segment From 2015 Onwards


Over the weekend South African beauty queen Rolene Strauss won the title of Miss World 2014 in London. It is the first time in more than half a century that a South African woman has taken home the title. As per usual, the press were touting her as “more than just a pretty face” and these kinda statements tend to make our eyes roll.

The thing is, Rolene Strauss IS more than just her physical appearance, so why is she being judged in a competition that is primarily about physical beauty, yet they want to promote inner beauty and brains also?

In a move that is set to shock the western fashion and beauty world, Miss World Chairwoman Julia Morley announced that from 2015 onwards, they will be abolishing the swimsuit category.

“I really don’t want—I don’t need to see women just walking up and down in bikinis. It doesn’t do anything for the woman. And it doesn’t do anything for any of us,” she told Elle magazine.

“I don’t care if someone has a bottom two inches bigger than someone else’s. We are really not looking at her bottom. We are really listening to her speak.”

Miss World has been around for 64 years, and Miss Universe, the Donald trump-owned and run pageant, started a year after. Miss Universe has a heavy swimsuit component, whereas Miss World is the only one out of the two that has an interview portion and a service element.

“They are not little girls,” Julia Morley says. “This is what I want to get away from. This sort of ‘cute’ image. No offense to Mr. Trump.”


Julia’s husband was the previous chairperson of Miss World until his death in 2000. Apparently when Mr. Trump heard of his death, he called Julia to ask whether she’d be willing to “throw in the towel” and let him be the only global beauty pageant owner. Fat chance! This woman is on a mission to reclaim the face of beauty pageants to represent women in a way others have failed to.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s women’s liberation groups would protest outside the beauty pageant venues declaring them to be anti-feminist and treating women as cattle. The views have certainly evolved, and the methods of protesting have become more varied, thanks to social media and citizen journalism.

But let’s be clear, there is still a huge population of men and women around the world who see women parading their bodies on stage as nothing but superficial and demeaning. If the end result is a scholarship, involvement in charity etc, then we do we need to swimsuit category in the first place?

Julia is determined to help change the negative perspective about beauty pageants, and this landmark decision is a step in the right direction. It’s not about shaming women’s bodies at all, it’s about using a large platform (the 2014 broadcast was said to be watched by ONE BILLION viewers around the world) to promote something other than the idea that physical appearance is your ticket to happiness and success.

However there are countries such as Indonesia which have banned the swimsuit portion of their Miss World qualifiers but that is based on religious grounds, being a predominantly Muslim nation.


In 1974, Mrs. Morley began Beauty with a Purpose, the service element of Miss World, which has helped to divert attention away from the external, physical side of the competition and raised over $1 billion for charity.

“We don’t want to just make them feel like they are walking bodies, you know?” Julia says.

As for 22 year old Rolene Strauss, she is the last woman to have won Miss World competing in a swimsuit category. If she had won in 2015, perhaps even more emphasis would be placed on the fact that she is a medical student, and counts women’s rights, health and education as her top causes.

Her ‘Beauty with a Purpose‘ project was dedicated to a project called ‘Always Keeping Girls in School‘.

“We saw that girls don’t go to school when it’s their time of the month, when it’s their menstrual cycle, because they’re ashamed of it. They don’t know what to do when that happens. When I saw this project, I immediately saw health and I saw education, which are my two passions, which is why I got involved in this project,” she said. “All of us think that to be healthy you have to money, right? You have to have shoes, you have to clothes, you have to makeup, that is how you become wealthy. But the greatest wealth is health,” she said in the video below.

Does this sound like the words of a woman who has any need to parade on a stage in a bikini? Nope, we don’t think so either. Here’s to Julia Morley, our feminist hero of the week, and the future of beauty pageants, now that a new bar has been set. We are waiting with baited breath to see how other pageants will respond to this move.


  1. South Africa is somewhat part of France or an island of it..in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, beautiful wife senorita menchie/sweet melissa ramos estacio-marr

  2. Pingback: Miss Teen USA Pageant Ditches Swimwear For Athletic-Wear To Put Focus On Health & Wellbeing - GirlTalkHQ

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