International beauty pageants are now sprouting like wild mushrooms, with promises of fame and glamour, enticing ladies from the four corners of the globe to participate and dive into a once in a lifetime experience. But through the years, four has managed to withstand the course of time, and has kept itself relevant to fans and non-fans worldwide.
Dubbed by the reputable beauty pageant website Missosology.org as the Big 4, these annual beauty pageants have attracted throngs of candidates from many countries, followed by the international media, and being broadcast to multiple countries. From the oldest and longest running Miss World, the most followed and glamorous Miss Universe, the youngest and fastest growing Miss Earth and the most consistent Miss International, these four pageants managed to inspire young girls around the world to dream of becoming beauty queens, and raise awareness on various social issues.
Miss Earth, for instance, was founded on the premise of conserving and protecting the environment. Miss World has been unstoppable on its campaign of raising millions to help eradicate hunger in a global scale. Miss Universe has used its media mileage to raise awareness on HIV Aids. While Miss International promotes mutual understanding among countries and is working with several notable charities.
Another reputable pageant website Globabeauties.com has reportedly tried to downgrade Miss Earth from the Big 4, for allegations that the pageant favored Misses Philippines and the pageant’s poor production of its finale night. This, however, was faced with criticisms from various pageant fans, noting that Miss Earth is the 2nd largest pageant in terms of entrants and has the most relevant platform of all — environment protection in cooperation of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Champions of the Earth.
Miss Earth wasn’t deterred at all as it has still remained in the Big 4, evident of the many countries holding national finals for their national titleholder and crowing their Miss Earth together with their representatives to older pageants like Miss World and Miss Universe.
Now, let’s take a closer look of the Big 4 Beauty Pageants to better understand them and know why they’re still relevant in this fast-paced age:
Founded in 1952, this American-owned pageant is the second oldest among the Big 4 and currently the 3rd biggest in terms of the number of national franchises with 86 in the latest count. Currently co-owned by business mogul Donald Trump and the American network NBC, Miss Universe is the most followed pageant, boasting around 226,ooo Likes on Facebook and 154,000 followers on Twitter.
Critics love the Miss Universe pageant for its fast-paced and exciting format. Being American, the pageant proved to be the most entertaining among the Big 4, combining an international fashion show and musical extravaganza every year. The pageant has also introduced various innovations in the world of pageantry, adding more excitement to this global celebration of beauty. And up this date, Miss Universe is still unmatched in terms of glamour and glitz, setting trends in pageantry fashion, eliciting analysis among the so-called experts and is a continuous topic among pageant discussions.
The United States holds the most number of winners with 7, followed by beauty powerhouse Venezuela with 6 and Puerto Rico in third with 5.
In 1951, Eric Morley of Great Britain founded the oldest surviving international pageant now known as the Miss World. Aside from being the longest running, Miss World is also the biggest among the Big 4 with 117 national franchises. Having said, Miss World is also the most widely broadcast pageant, with its finals being aired in most number of countries.
However, the pageant fell short in comparison with Miss Universe in loyal following, with only 8,700 followers on Twitter and around 92,000 Facebook Likers.
In contrast with Miss Universe, Miss World isn’t fast-paced. Instead, the pageant’s finals is an elegant soiree of international beauties, showcasing the long-known British aristocracy. The winners were crowned like true Queens, and the finals night resembles like the Oscars or an assembly of international queens. Critics has also stressed that Miss World boasts higher quality of candidates than the 3 other pageants. This is perhaps due to the fact that it is the biggest and the organization’s insistence that country’s representatives should be selected from a national pageant, instead of casting calls and screenings.
Venezuela has the most number of winners, bringing home a total of 6 crowns. Tie in the second place is the United Kingdom and India with 5.
The youngest among the Big 4, Miss Earth is a Philippine-owned pageant founded in 2001. The pageant was created as answer to global concerns of environment protection. The pageant’s titleholders dedicate their year to promote specific projects and often address issues concerning the environment and other global issues. Although the youngest, Miss Earth is the second biggest among the Big 4 with 88 national franchises.
Miss Earth has around 10,000 Facebook Likers and around 2,000 Twitter followers.
Criticized for being a clone of Miss Universe, the Miss Earth pageant seemingly replicates Miss Universe’s finals night format with swimsuit and evening gown competitions. But during its early years, Miss Earth sets itself apart form other pageants with its unique Question and Answer Round, and giving emphasis to candidates’ with and environmental protection platform.
But much of the pageant’s criticisms were rooted from the perceived low quality of its finals night. The pageant fell short in terms of production values against the American-produced Miss Universe and the so-called snooze-fest that is Miss World. The only consolation about Miss Earth is that it is being broadcast in English, unlike Miss International, and the growing number of well-known international performers gracing the finale show. Miss Earth winners are also the busiest titleholders, travelling to promote the causes of the pageant of saving the planet.
The third oldest surviving international pageant, Miss International is a Japanese-owned competition for women around the globe, promoting goodwill and international mutual understanding. With only 58 reported national franchises, Miss International is the smallest among the Big 4. But its boasts a long tradition of selecting the most beautiful winners, following a consistent criteria of grace, elegance and wit.
Currently, it has 3,000 Facebook Likers and 1,816 followers on Twitter.
Miss International lags behind the other three in terms of media mileage and promotions, but is still respected for its unshaken and unquestioned 52-year run. The relative obscurity of Miss International compared to Miss Universe, World and Earth is perhaps due to its limited coverage and the pageant’ finale is sometimes not in English. The organization which owns the pageant also seems to be lacking in informing the various activities of the winners, creating a perception that the Miss International winners aren’t doing anything after being crowned.
Having said, Miss International is still part of the Big 4 for its long tradition and its consistency of crowning great winners. It is also the less politicized among the Big 4, with no major controversies faced on its entire run.
The pageant’s decline is being attributed to its unavailability to international broadcast for so many years. But it is poised to make a comeback this decade, with revitalized interests to the pageant and the spectacular finale it had last year (2011).
Again, Venezuela holds the most number of Miss International title with 6 followed by the Philippines with 4 crowns.