Beauty pageants are notoriously misogynistic, so it may come as no surprise that contestants in the Miss Peru competition have historically been expected to recite their bust, waist, and hip measurements to an audience during the competition. This year, however, contestants used the demeaning segment to make a statement against the epidemic of gender-based violence ravishing the country.
Instead of reciting their measurements, the beauty queens recited statistics about violence against women in Peru in front of a large screen displaying photos and headlines from prominent cases of women who have been murdered or abused for being women.
"My name is Melina Machuca," one contestant stated. "I represent the department of Cajamarca, and my measurements are: more than 80 percent of women in my city suffer from violence."
"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."
"My name is Juana Acevedo and my measurements are: more than 70 percent of women in our country are victims of street harassment."
It wasn't just the contestants taking a stand against violence against women; gender-based violence was the theme of the night. Jessica Newton, the pageant's organizer and a former beauty queen herself, said the decision to dedicate the event to gender-based violence was an easy one to make.
"Everyone who does not denounce and everyone who does not do something to stop this is an accomplice," she told Buzzfeed from Lima.
She also defended the bathing suit segment, which is widely perceived as the most objectifying part of most beauty pageants, as an opportunity to emphasize that women should be treated with dignity and respect no matter what they are wearing.
"Women can walk out naked if they want to. Naked. It's a personal decision," Newton said. "If I walk out in a bathing suit I am just as decent as a woman who walks out in an evening dress."