When I was deliberating my posts for the A-Z challenge, I thought about doing ‘W’ for the Miss World pageant, an event I used to love when I was a little girl in the 70’s. Then, while I was researching I came across a story on the BBC website about Shanna Bukhari, a British Muslim who wishes to represent Britain in the Miss Universe contest despite a huge furore and backlash against her involvement.
Shanna has received racist and abusive messages from:
- Muslim groups claiming she is denigrating the name of Islam.
- White supremacists - saying that an Asian cannot represent the UK.
- Women - who range in their condemnation from those who believe beauty pageants are an affront to feminism and she is demeaning all women, to more vocal shouts of, 'Shame on you, and rot in hell!' - an opprobrium from feminists.
The backlash from women’s groups is nothing new. The decline in popularity and subsequent televising of such pageants was as a result of many women finding the competitions degrading. One of the main reasons some Muslims are angry is that Shanna would have to appear in swimwear in one round of the competition. Islam is clear that a woman should dress modestly and it is not thought appropriate for her to parade herself in a bikini, although I understand she intended to wear a one-piece and a sarong.
Shanna has many supporters from Spain, the Middle East, Pakistan, India and China. Most women supporters say she represents not just a role model for Muslim women, but all those who refuse to be cowed by bullies. ‘Good for you, stand up for yourself, and don’t let anyone dictate what you can and can’t do.’ Why shouldn’t Muslims in the UK be allowed to have a western lifestyle? Why can’t she represent Britain when she was born here and is proud to be British?
It’s a complex issue. And I'm not even going to try and pick apart the arguments as apparently she had had death threats and had to hire a private security firm to protect her. But what strikes me is that society has not progressed since my childhood days when I used to watch beauty pageants. This story highlights the state of multiculturalism in modern Britain and the divisions that still exist along with the lack of social integration, and lack of adhesion between white and coloured people.
During last month's semi-final for Britain's Miss Universe, Shanna Bukhari received the most public votes. Britain has never won the title. It is increasingly possible that its first victor might also be its first Muslim representative, and if she wins, I suspect you will be hearing a whole lot more of her name as the arguments and debates rumble on.
There’s my ‘U’ – Miss Universe.
All I really wanted to know was if you ever watched these pageants in the past?
Until another day
Bye for now
This Week in Essays
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