Miss World is the oldest of the Big Four international beauty pageants, along with Miss Universe, Miss International and Miss Earth. Although Miss Universe has become arguably the grandest of the competitions (thanks to the influence of Donald Trump), it is something of a misnomer, as there never seem to be any red-faced Martians, lithe-figured Mandalorians or genocide-inclined Klingons taking part.
Miss Earth has only been going since 2001 and features more environmental awareness than its three rivals. Miss International was founded in 1960 and has been dominated by the same country that heads this particular list. In case you were wondering, there is also a Miss Globe, Miss Model of the World and Miss Supranational to keep beauty queens busy all year round. There are even "Mrs." versions of Miss World and Miss Universe aimed at married women.
"Beauty with a Purpose" is the motto of the Miss World organization. The organization, founded in 1951 by British entertainment guru Eric Morley, faced challenges in its history as it was labeled misogynistic, chauvinistic and anachronistic. Organizers stressed the charity operations of Miss World, raising millions worldwide whilst sending the reigning Miss World to locations around the globe to bring a smile (and the press) to areas that were suffering from deprivation.
Regardless of whether you approve or disapprove, beauty pageants are big business and wildly popular. The 1979 Miss World competition was watched by over 500 million people, and for those who figured it was an event suffering from apathy and dying interest, the 2012 event was broadcast to over a billion viewers. Even the epitome of empowered influential women, Oprah Winfrey, was a beauty queen in her youth. She won the 1971 Miss Black Tennessee contest at the tender age of 17.
This list is ordered by the number of individual winners a country has produced, with ties being broken by the amount of second places (tactfully rendered as first runner-up by Miss World organizers) and then third places (second runner-up) as necessary. Special mentions go to: France, who only won once (in 1953) but have had three first runners-up and two second runners-up; Israel, who also won once (in 1998) but had one first runner-up and an impressive six second runners-up; and Colombia, who surprisingly have never won but have come close with four first runners-up and one second runner-up.
So let the beauty parade commence:
10 Argentina: 2 winners and 2 first runners-up
9 Australia: 2 winners, 2 first runners-up and 4 second runners-up
8 South Africa: 2 winners, 4 first runners-up and 6 second runners-up
7 Iceland: 3 winners and 1 second runner-up
6 Jamaica: 3 winners and 3 second runners-up
5 Sweden: 3 winners and 1 first runner-up
4 USA: 3 winners, 5 first runners-up and 2 second runners-up
3 India: 5 winners and 1 first runner-up
2 UK: 5 winners, 6 first runners-up and 4 second runners-up
1 Venezuela: 6 winners, 2 first runners-up and 4 second runners-up
Anyone who knows the first thing about international beauty pageants will know being a Venezuelan beauty queen is a big deal, but it comes with the burden of great expectations. Six Miss World winners, six Miss International champions, two Miss Earth victors and seven Miss Universe titleholders are testament to the importance of being a beauty queen in this Latin American nation. Susana Duijm (1955), Pilín León (1981), Astrid Carolina Herrera (1984), Ninibeth Leal (1991), Jacqueline Aguilera (1995) and Ivian Sarcos (2011) demonstrate that Venezuelan dedication to and intense training in becoming a beauty queen are second to none.
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