The Miss Peru contest begins with contestants giving their name, hometown and their bust, waist and hip measurements. This year, they still gave numbers, but instead of their measurements, all 23 contestants gave statistics about violence towards women in Peru.
The rest of the evening, the contestants answered questions about how they would solve violence against women instead of questions about their personal interests. (1)
This action not only subverted the common perception of beauty pageants as superficial and perpetuating a system that only values women as sexual, beautiful objects, but it does some actual good. Jessica Newton, the contest organizer, said that “there are many women who do not know [these statistics] and think they are isolated cases” (2). Out of the 150 original contestants in the beauty pageant, 5 had been victims of violence (2).
Here are some of the statistics the contestants provided (3):
“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% of women in our country are victims of street harassment.”
“My name is Luciana Fernández and I represent the city of Huánuco, and my measurements are: 13,000 girls suffer sexual abuse in our country.”
“My name is Melina Machuca, I represent the department of Cajamarca, and my measurements are: More than 80% of women in my city suffer from violence.”
“Almendra Marroquín here. I represent Cañete, and my measurements are: More than 25% of girls and teenagers are abused in their schools.”
“My name is Bélgica Guerra and I represent Chincha. My measurements are: the 65% of university women who are assaulted by their partners.”
“My name is Romina Lozano and I represent the constitutional province of Callao, and my measurements are: 3,114 women victims of trafficking up until 2014.”
While it was more shocking that these women challenged decades of an event that happens worldwide, in which women are judged, ranked, and valued for their appearance and sex appeal more than their achievements, this decision still goes to show how important data is for the progression of protecting and expanding women’s liberation.
In a worldwide community that often considers quantitative data more valid and convincing over personal experience and observations, the data they provided helps bridge the gap. Offering numbers makes what some may see as sad, unique & sporadic experiences, into a country-wide problem. It expresses that everyone must be involved in solving and ending violence rather than leaving it to individual women.
This is the goal of the WomanStats Project: to use data, both qualitative and quantitative, to educate, convince, and hopefully isolate problems that can be solved. Data breaks down the huge, nebulous issue of oppression and focuses it, breaking it down into recognizable, smaller parts. It provides answers and raises new questions and ultimately, can help us pin down more concrete solutions.
- McKenna, Meghan. “Miss Peru 2017 Shifted the Conversation from Bra Sizes to Gendered Violence.” Fashion Magazine. 3 November 2017. https://fashionmagazine.com/culture/peru-beauty-pageant-protest/
- Unknown. “Miss Peru Pageant turns into gender violence protest.” BBC. 1 November 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-41827062
- Zabludovsky, Karla. “These Beauty Pageant Contestants Gave Out Facts About Women’s Rights as Their Measurements.” BuzzFeed News. 30 October 2017. https://www.buzzfeed.com/karlazabludovsky/miss-peru-2018-was-the-most-woke-beauty-pageant-of-all-time?utm_term=.gwLD0L775#.wg7N4e77g