It was an affair so unlike today at least when it comes to Miss World. The contestants appeared to have donned the swimsuits from start to finish. In fact, the winner, 18-year old librarian named Penelope Plummer was crowned wearing – horrors of horrors – a swimsuit! As she gently wiped her tears, her runners-up took turns in kissing the stunning blonde beauty. First, came the kisses from Miss United Kingdom and Miss Israel. Then from Miss Philippines and Miss Colombia.
That was back in 1968 when the world was totally different. Back then, Miss World shared the headlines alongside with the Nigerian Civil War, Nixon’s victory at the American elections and Prince Charles’ 20th birthday. Nowadays, only a handful countries still treat major pageants as a headliner, swimsuit is officially dead at Miss World and Australia is still finding the right strategy so that its third Miss World crown could materialise.
Australia had a good run in the 1960s and 1970s at Miss World. In fact, Australia regularly lands at the semis and is the 5th strongest country at the pageant. It still is having a good run with a series of unbroken placements since 2011. The difference is that back then, Penelope’s 1968 victory was duplicated by Belinda Green in 1972. This time around, the crown seems hard to come by.
Ever since Miss World Australia splintered from the now defunct Miss Australia pageant, the interest of Australian shifted away from Miss World. This is aggravated by the reality that no Australian has won the crown in recent years. The interest down under went to other pageants where the country has a better chance to win.
Miss World will once again on the radar of the Australian public if a third Aussie beauty will be crowned Miss World. But the key question of course is how? One point that was raised is how Australia fares well when it is represented by an Australian beauty with a Lebanese ancestry. After all, it was Jessica Kahawaty and Sabrina Houssami, both born and bred in Sydney but with Lebanese roots, who almost won the third Miss World crown for Australia.
What does this pattern tell us? First, it could just be a coincidence. If not, it could be that Miss World want Australia to embrace its diversity although this vast country is still overwhelmingly white. Second, it is time for Miss World Australia to revisit the strategy being deployed by Jessica and Sabrina. For example, how come both failed to win any pre-final contests but still managed to wow the judges in the finals night!
The general mood at Miss World Australia is currently optimistic. It’s good run at the semis since 2011 is a good indicator that the organization is doing well. But still, the goal is the crown and it must not rest its laurels until it is achieved. The third Miss World crown for Australia could just be around the corner but there is no doubt that it requires hard work and dedication for such glory to be materialised.