China Embraces Beauty Pageants

China is embracing beauty competitions, which it once rejected, and Maoist ideals of equality have been replaced by modeling competitions and beauty pageants for all ages. Although some say that these contests objectify females in order to cater to men’s ideals, others see them as a way to promote China through cultural ambassadors. CNN reports:   

“In the national government’s five-year plans, developing cultural industry became a strategic policy which forced local governments to focus more on ‘soft power’ industries, so they used pageants as a platform to promote the local city image,” said Peter Wang, secretary-general of the Miss World China Pageant Committee…

The central government is also utilizing pageant winners as cultural ambassadors to promote China’s image overseas. After Zhang Zilin won the Miss World pageant in 2007, she was called upon to appear in a government publicity campaign, first appearing on the jumbo screens in New York’s Time Square in January. The screening coincided with Hu Jintao’s official visit to the United States. She was later chosen to run in the Universiade torch relay, a global competition for university students held earlier this year in Shenzhen. She will also be appearing in a campaign for L’Oreal Paris and has recently graced the covers of Chinese Elle and Harper’s Bazaar magazines.


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