When Pretty turned Petty – Biggest Pageant Scandals

27 Dec 2022 | Priya Bhardwaj

While there is no doubt that pageantry is a whole community of empowered and philanthropically encouraged women who work towards the betterment of the community, there are a few instances where the whole community, along with the world, is left shocked with scandals amidst the competitions.

In 2017, the Miss America pageant, based in the USA, came under ferocious fire after the then-CEO Sam Haskell was accused of calling contestants 'c**ts' and making crude jokes about their looks and size in a series of alleged leaked emails.

Before this year, pageants also faced backlash for their fiercely strict rules; married women and mothers were not allowed to compete before this year. Their lack of inclusivity was also pointed out before the pageantry decided to mould the rules to welcome all women to the race.


When Pretty turned Petty – Biggest Pageant Scandals


Personal controversies including drug arrests, nude photo scandals, and racist slurs have also been brought to light. One famous scandal happened in 2015 when the host Steve Harvey mistakenly names Colombia as the new Miss Universe 2015 and just minutes later announced how he read the name wrong and the winner was actually Philippines. He still bears the burn of this mistake as some pageant fans are not so eager to forgive.

Miss Puerto Rico 2015 Destiny Velez was also suspended for making anti-Muslim messages. “Muslims use our constitution to terrorize USA & plant gas stations. There's NO comparison between Jews, Christians & Muslims. Jews nor Christians have terrorizing agendas in their sacred books. All what Muslims have done is provided oil & terrorize this country & many others”, she wrote. She was then suspended and asked to offer a public apology.

Before Miss Universe ended its ban for transgender contestants, Jenna Talackova, one of the finalists of Miss Universe Canada, was disqualified because she had undergone gender reassignment surgery, which was against the rules as contestants had to be a naturally born female.


Take a look at the biggest pageant scandals of all time


Miss Universe 1996 Alicia Machado was told that she was gaining too much weight and the Miss Universe organization reportedly was going to replace her with Miss Aruba. Before the pageantry became more inclusive, it was actually difficult for women of all shapes and sizes to enter comfortably and confidently.

The recent pageant to come under the fire was Miss USA 2022 where allegations of the edition being rigged rocked the community. The allegations came after people thought if she was pre-chosen as the winner because they noticed that the beauty queen filmed an advertisement for a plastic surgery spa (pictured) nine weeks before the finale, which is a key part of the prize. The scandals in any community are bound to happen because when different people of various traditions, cultures and mindsets come together, pretty can surely turn petty sometimes.