It's tradition during the Miss Peru beauty pageant for the contestants to stand in front of the judges and the audience and list out their bust, waist, and hip measurements.
While we understand that beauty pageants are designed to judge women on their appearance, having a group of women literally judged based on their bra size and their waist-to-hip ratio feels outdated. And, it seems, the 2017 contestants agree.
Instead of sharing their measurements during the contest this year, the contestants banded together to make a powerful statement about how women are treated — by listing statistics about violence against women in their country.
"My name is Camila Canicoba and I represent the department of Lima. My measurements are: 2,202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country," one contestant said, according to a tweet that translated the interviews.
Every other contestant also shared statistics. "More than 70% of women in our country are victims of street harassment," one said. "13,000 girls suffer from sexual abuse in our country," said another.
In addition to throwing the antiquated idea that women should be judged based on their body measurements back in the audience's face, the statistics these women shared bring much needed attention to violence against women, which is a problem everywhere but especially in Peru. According to a UN survey, nearly 50% of women in Peru have experienced violence from a current or former intimate partner. And that's only the statistic on domestic violence. As the contestants pointed out, there are many more ways women experience violence, from cat-calling to sex trafficking.
Jessica Newton, the pageant’s organizer and former pageant contestant, told BuzzFeed that this was a planned protest from both the contestants and the pageant organizers.
“Everyone who does not denounce and everyone who does not do something to stop this is an accomplice,” she told BuzzFeed.
Many people believe that beauty pageants, and the people who compete in them, are decidedly anti-feminist. But we're glad to see women calling attention to both the problem with worrying about a woman's size and the problem of violence against women — especially on such a public platform.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
If you are experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224 for confidential support.
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