Campaign against height norms in Indian beauty pageants

Jaipur: Jodhpur-based girl Isha, along with 35 other girls across India, are running a campaign against the height criteria set by nationally acclaimed beauty pageants that allow entry only to girls with a minimum height of 5.5 feet.

Isha says that there are no such norms in the Miss World contest. You can be 5.1 feet and still win the Miss World title. So why are leading Indian pageants restricting ambitious girls with short height to contest, she argues.

“Jennifer Andrade from Honduras was not 5.5 feet, but she still won Miss World while being 5.2 feet tall. This height criteria in beauty pageants shatter dreams and limit Indian girls from living their dreams. This is in contrast to the most-talked-about equality goal,” she adds.

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Isha further quotes Julia Morley, founder of Miss World, and says that she also states that there are no height criteria for participating in Miss World so why do these organisations set strict criteria for girls?

Speaking to IANS, Isha said, “Besides me, there are girls from Rajasthan, Assam, Karnataka, Kerala, Delhi and Haryana who are raising their voice against this. We are using social media to raise our voice against inequality and injustice meted to girls who are ambitious and want to make a mark internationally. “

“We have made many groups on social media and have started movements like #5feetformissworld and #5feetformissuniverse to encourage girls to join us so that they can represent problems faced by every single girl who dreams of making it to these beauty pageants,” Isha told IANS.

She adds, “We are all aware that the average height of an Indian woman is around 5 feet 1 inch. So, why is beauty considered to be only about height and skin colour? Beauty is defined as the way you present yourself. Intellectual development, your beauty, style, charm, aura, looks and attitude matter,” she says.

Isha has won many state-level pageants such as Fashion Glitz And Glamour Icon (Miss Beautiful Smile), Miss Rajasthan Wild Card Entry, Miss IGPC India and Elite Miss Rajasthan, however, her height makes her ineligible to go further.

Srishti from New Delhi who is 5.4 feet and wants to compete in international pageants is also part of this campaign. “We are well aware that there is some kind of discrepancy in setting such norms. While India has set 5.5 ft as height criteria in many national pageants, Nepal has set 5.4 ft as its criteria while in global competitions, there is much flexibility on these criteria.”

“We are making people aware of social media, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook etc. We are also signing petitions to change these norms. Many organisers of such beauty pageants tried to block our campaigns, however, we have decided not to stop,” she says.

Lucknow’s Deepshikha Soni is yet another model who is short but has big dreams. “My height gives me complex many times as I can’t spread my wings. In fact, the national pageants do not represent the true spirit of India as girls from North East who are short generally can never contest in such shows. Don’t you think these criteria should be changed so that girls from all across India who are known to have an average height of 5.1 can compete,” she added.

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