Miss Universe started out only as a local beauty pageant competition back in 1952 but is now the most significant beauty pageant in the world. Celebrating its 61st year this December, the Miss Universe has been, still is, and will always be the most talked about beauty pageant all over the globe. The crowned winner of this annual event goes on to impart knowledge on how to control diseases, promote peace, and disseminate information about acquired immune deficiency syndrome or more popularly known as AIDS.
On June 28, 1952, it was was first held at Long Beach Municipal Auditorium in Long Beach, California. Founded by Pacific Mills, a California clothing company, the first edition had a total of 30 entrants. Armi Kuusela from Finland won the pageant. But she eventually gave up her crown to get married to a Filipino businessman, Virgilio Hilario. They married in Tokyo, honeymooned in Hawaii, and settled down in the Philippines. They had three sons and two daughters, all of which now live in different countries except one.
Miss Universe system changes
In the past six decades, many changes have been implemented with the intention of bettering the pageant. Some of these changes are listed below:
1. In 1960, a pageant interview questions and answers portion was added to determine the runners-up and the overall winner.
2. From 1959-1963, the runners-up and winner were chosen straight from the Top 15.
3. In the early years, the contestants who advanced were announced after the preliminary competition. But since 1965, the semi-finalists are announced only on the night of the main event. The semi-finalists then go on to compete in the swimsuit and evening gown portion for a chance to be in the Top 5.
4. In 1969, Top 5 candidates were given final questions. This part was an on-and-off feature of the pageant until 1990 when it became permanent.
5. In 1996, Donald Trump acquired the pageant. Trump is an American business tycoon and is also known for his reality show, “The Apprentice.”
6. In 1998, Miss Universe Inc. was changed into Miss Universe Organization. Also, the headquarters moved from Los Angeles (the City of Angels) to New York (the Big Apple).
7. In 2000, the interview portion was dropped.
8. In 2003, instead of a Top 10, there was a Top 15. There was an elimination to make up the Top 10, and another for the Top 5.
9. In 2006, twenty semi-finalists competed in the swimsuit portion. The 10 contestants that advanced proceeded to compete in the evening gown portion. Afterwards, the Top 5 was announced. They went on to compete in the interview portion.
10. In 2011, for the first time, one of the 16 semi-finalists was selected through online voting.
11. This year, transgender women have also been allowed to compete.
From its 1st edition to its 8th edition, the Miss Universe pageant was held at Long Beach Municipal Auditorium in Long Beach, California, U.S.A. It was then moved to the Miami Beach Auditorium in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. Not until its 21st edition was the pageant held in a different country. The first country to host the pageant besides the U.S.A. was Puerto Rico.
The country that offers the best possible venue and gives the most support to the Organization is chosen as the Host Site for the event. In the past 60 editions, the U.S.A had been the Host Site 31 times. There is a theory circulating that the chosen country to host has a subtle effect on the results of the pageant. According to the theory, the venue could set the tendency for the beauty preference of preliminary judges. This is due to the observation that most preliminary judges are local, or if not local, could be influenced by the local mood. The U.S.A. is currently leading in terms of titles won, with a total of 7. Venezuela is close behind with 6. Puerto Rico ranks third with 5.
Since 1952, four countries have always been represented. These are Canada, France, Germany and the U.S.A. Canada and France have already confirmed their candidates for this year’s pageant. The U.S.A. is yet to have its national pageant. Germany has not yet confirmed whether or not Isabel Gülck will compete.
Miss Universe scoring system
The candidates that countries send to represent them usually go through pageants in major cities then on to national pageants. In 2000, Australia decided to put an end to its national pageants and have delegates chosen by a modeling agency instead. This is called “casting” and it is discouraged by the Organization. Regardless, Australian beauty Jennifer Hawkins, a “cast”, was crowned Miss Universe 2004. Oddly, after this win, Australia decided to hold national pageants again. They have not won another title since 2004.
Back in 1978, both the live audience and television viewers got to see how the judges voted through electronic voting. From 1990 to 2001, the judges’ individual scores were open for the viewing audience to see. As the contestants competed, the judges gave them each a score ranging from 1.0 to 9.99 into their computer terminals, 1.0 being the lowest and 9.99 being the highest. The judges’ names and scores could be seen on screen. The highest and lowest scores were removed, and then the scores left were averaged. But in 2002, individual judges’ scores became concealed again and only the average score is visible to the viewing audience at the present time. In 2007, the pageant decided to try a computer voting system. There is a team of three people who set up, keep up, and run the voting system. They are listed in credits as “Computer Score Operators.”
Miss Universe qualifications of candidates
Like any other beauty pageant, there are requirements that have to be met by the candidates for them to qualify. They have to be between the ages of 18 and 27 by February 1st of the year that they want to compete. A woman is only allowed to compete in the pageant once. Also, they must have never been married, never annulled a marriage, and never given birth to a child or parented a child. The crowned Miss Universe must remain single during her reign.
The Miss Universe peace crown
The Peace crown that was made for the pageant in 2009 by Diamond Nexus Labs, the first eco-friendly Official Jeweler of Miss Universe, was chosen over two other potential crowns (Hope and Unity) through online voting. The crown boasts over a thousand gorgeous gemstones and a series of beautiful lab-created rubies that symbolize the campaign to uphold HIV/AIDS awareness and education. The repeating oval pattern is meant to reflect regality and grace. Initially, the crown had 544.31 grams of 14k and 18k white gold and platinum. But weighing 627.53 grams (including the 83.22 g weight of the gemstones), the crown gave Miss Universe 2009 Stefania Fernandez headaches. To make the crown lighter, the top row of arches was removed.
As early as now, there are already predictions all over the Internet on which candidates will dominate the pageant. It is just another manifestation of how popular the pageant is. Some of the predicted front runners are:
5. Puerto Rico
6. South Africa
Miss Universe is surely creating a stir. Will Germany compete and continue its streak along with Canada, France, and the U.S.A.? Will the predictions prove true? Will Venezuela be able to tie now from the U.S.A. who is leading with 1 win? If Venezuela wins this year, there will be a healthy rivalry between the two countries.
We will find out the answers to these questions when the Peace Crown is passed on once more only in the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant.