>Beauty pageants are an interesting — and very public — balancing act between womankind's degree of wholesome versus their sex appeal, a real-life judgement of whether contestants meet Mr Darcy's standards of an 'accomplished woman' on an international stage.
When it comes to the Big Four — Miss World, the oldest existing major international beauty pageant, >Miss Universe, the US-founded equivalent, Miss International, the Tokyo-based equivalent, and Miss Earth, the environmental-themed equivalent held specifically with the purpose of promoting environmental awareness — contestants must follow a series of strict rules and guidelines to be eligible for competition, the prizes of which often include scholarship money in conjunction with their crown.
Rules were made to be broken, however, and that goes for beauty queens too.
Here are some of the biggest controversies that have rocked the world of pageantry.
Former Miss Connecticut USA accused by ex-husband of being a secret sex worker
Top New York City-based spine surgeon Dr Han Jo Kim, 41, accused his former wife, 32-year-old Regina Turner, a former Miss Connecticut USA, of living a double life as a sex worker in court papers.
Earlier this week, in a 264-page filing reportedly obtained by >New York Daily News, Kim sought an >annulment for his marriage to Turner, claiming he had been hoodwinked into the nuptials as Turner hid her "secret life as a prostitute for wealthy men" and Kim "would have never married [Turner] absent her lies and concealment."
In the papers, Kim claims that Turner earned US$675,030 (approx. $915,300) allegedly in secret as a sex worker. He claimed Turner had been exchanging sex for money since 2015.
Kim also claimed that Turner lied about her education, as well as her whereabouts at times in order to cover up her secret job.
Why Vanessa Williams gave up her Miss America pageant crown
You may know actress Vanessa Williams from her iconic roles in Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives, but in the 1980s, she was making a name for herself as a beauty queen.
In 1983, when Williams was around 21, she made history as the first African-American woman to be named Miss America.
Almost a year after her coronation, when she had less than seven weeks left of her reign, unauthorised nude photos of Williams, which had been taken when she was working as a photographer's assistant, were published in Penthouse magazine.
As a result, Williams was forced to give up her title, in a move that she has since described as one of the lowest points of her life.
Prior to the nude photos surfacing, Williams had also reportedly received obscene messages and death threats because she was the first Black Miss America.
In 2015, 32 years after being stripped of her crown, the >Miss America organisation apologised to Williams on-stage after she had performed Amy Grant's Oh How The Years Go By during the pageant that would crown 2016's Miss America, which she was also judging.
"I want to apologise for anything that was said or done during the photo scandal," Miss America CEO Sam Haskell III said to Williams and the crowd as headlines from newspapers at the time flashed behind the pair.
"I have been a close friend to this beautiful and talented lady for 32 years," he said.
"You have lived your life in grace and dignity and never was it more evident than during the events of 1984 when you resigned."
Haskell also apologised to Williams' mother, before saying, "I want to apologise for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less than the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be."
In a twist of irony, two years after Haskell's apology, he was >forced to resign as CEO of the Miss America Organisation due to a leaking scandal of his own — emails from Haskell and Miss America staffers and board members surfaced that included sexist language and insulting comments with reference to former Miss Americas.
Steve Harvey wrongfully announced Miss Colombia as the winner of Miss Universe 2015
Steve Harvey, who was hosting the 2015 >Miss Universe pageant, >accidentally announced the wrong winner live on air — he initially said Miss Colombia (Ariadna Gutiérrez) had won the title of Miss Universe, when in actual fact, it was Miss Philippines (Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach) who had scored the honour.
Harvey had to walk back onto the stage when he realised his mistake and announce the true winner, and Miss Universe 2014 Paulina Vega had to remove the crown from Miss Colombia's head and put it on that of Miss Philippines.
"I have to apologise," Harvey said, before a long pause. "The first runner up is Colombia... Miss Philippines, take your first walk as Miss Universe." Watch above.
After the incident, a Snapchat story from the pageant surfaced, where Harvey can seen saying that the teleprompter had said "Miss Universe — Colombia."
After the event, however, Harvey >issued an apology in a now-deleted tweet, saying, "I'd like to apologise wholeheartedly to Miss Colombia & Miss Philippines for my huge mistake. I feel terrible...
"Secondly, I'd like to apologise to the viewers that I disappointed as well. Again it was an honest mistake... I don't want to take away from this amazing night and pageant. As well as the wonderful contestants. They were all amazing."
Miss Colombia, however, according to >New York Daily News, was upset at the blunder.
"In four minutes they destroy your dreams, they throw it in a bag, and they throw it in the trash," Gutiérrez said.
"They [the show] could have done it another way... I feel like it doesn't matter to them the feelings of a girl who has worked her whole life for a dream."
Harvey has continued to host many Miss Universe pageants in the years since.
Australia's own Francesca Hung was caught up in a Miss Universe bullying scandal in 2018
In 2018, days before the Philippines' Catriona Gray was to be crowned as Miss Universe in Bangkok, Miss USA, Miss Colombia and Miss Australia >were accused of bullying a fellow contestant.
In an Instagram Live video that was broadcast on the last day of rehearsals, the trio made comments about Miss Cambodia and Miss Vietnam's inability to speak English, to much backlash.
"Miss Cambodia is here and doesn't speak any English and not a single other person speaks her language," Sarah Rose Summers, who was Miss USA in 2018, says during the clip — which had been uploaded to several YouTube channels after it had expired on Instagram.
Valeria Morales, who was Miss Colombia 2018, agreed.
"Could you imagine? Like Francesca said, that would be so isolating and I said yes, and I mean, just so confusing all the time…" Miss USA continued.
Miss USA said to Miss Colombia that she speaks "great English" but can also communicate with competitors who speak Spanish.
Francesca Hung, who was Miss Australia, said, "It would be really hard," while the clip ended with Summers saying, "Poor Cambodia."
They also said in another part of the Live that Miss Vietnam sometimes just smiled back and didn't respond when they were speaking English to her, implying she didn't understand.
The trio were quickly slammed online for their racist and bigoted remarks, though Troy Barbagallo, Director of Pink Tank Events, which run the Miss Universe Australia Pageant, told >9Honey at the time that the comments were "taken completely out of context" and were misinterpreted.
He also said that Hung, who is of Chinese descent, is "far from a bully."
"She is publicly against [bullying], she grew up in Australia as half-Chinese, achieved great things and has since been using her new role as an advocate for acceptance of cultural diversity," Barbagallo told 9Honey.
Miss USA >later apologised for the situation, and Hung said she thought >it could have impacted her final placing in the competition.
Mrs World arrested after removing crown off 2021 Mrs Sri Lanka's head
Earlier this year in Colombo, Pushpika De Silva was crowned Mrs Sri Lanka, before >swiftly being de-crowned by the 2019 title holder Caroline Jurie, who was serving as Mrs World at the time.
After 31-year-old De Silva was crowned in April, Jurie dramatically pulled the crown from her head, claiming that De Silva was divorced and then should not be awarded the honour.
The rule Jurie was citing dictates that pageant competitors must be married and not divorced.
When Jurie pried the crown off De Silva's head, it got stuck in her hair before coming off. De Silva tearfully walked off stage as Jurie handed the crown to the first runner up.
After the ceremony, the crown was returned to De Silva, as it was confirmed she was separated, not a divorcee.
De Silva then claimed in a Facebook post that she went to hospital and was treated for head injuries after the incident due to "pain of my skull."
Jurie, 28, and another contestant >were arrested following the incident before being released on bail.
Weeks later, Jurie resigned from Mrs World, handing the title to the 2020 first runner-up Kate Schneider of Ireland.
Miss Universe 2020 Andrea Meza forced to defend her eligibility
"MÉXICO ESTO ES PARA TI," Meza, 26, wrote in the caption of a celebratory Instagram post, which translates to "Mexico this is for you."
Mere days after her coronation, however, Meza was forced to defend her eligibility after >images of herself and a software engineer from 2019 posing as a bride and groom emerged online.
Miss Universe contestants must not be married in order to be eligible for their crown, and they must have never given birth to a child.
Meza's speculated husband was determined to be model Jorge Saenz, who in 2019 wrote alongside the images, "I am immensely grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to meet her at this moment and to cross our path.
"Today a new stage in our lives begins and I am sure that sharing everything with you will make me the happiest person in the world."
Saenz publicly stated that they were part of a destination wedding shoot for an advertising campaign, and were shared with the captions as a joke.
"Andrea is a friend of mine and [like] my sister. They were taking things out of context," he explained.
"These photos are old, and Andrea is just my friend."
Meza remains the 2020 title holder.
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