10. Miss Atom
This is a beauty pageant with a nuclear twist.
“The idea behind the contest is to demonstrate how many beautiful girls and young women work in nuclear, because this industry has been closed from public for a long time and the word “atom” evoked usually negative feelings,” explains Ilya Platonov, Nuclear.Ru‘s General Manager. Nuclear.Ru is the organizer of the Miss Atom, a web-based beauty pageant open to contestants, aged 18-35, that are employees of businesses, companies and institutions of the State Corporation “Rosatom” as students of nuclear-related educational establishments.
The popular Miss Atom has been run since 2004. Apparently, last year was as hot as a fission core with a record 340 participants representing more than 60 organizations, businesses and educational institutions in nuclear related fields in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
Profile photos often have contestants posing against backdrops like nuclear power plant, machinery and objects. Miss Atom is held every year as an image-building PR campaign for the Russian nuclear industry.
9. Miss Plastic Surgery
What can you expect in a nation obsessed with beauty pageants and plastic surgery? The first Miss Plastic Surgery was held at Beijing, China in 2004. Women and transsexuals between the age group of 17 to 62 participated in this pageant for the title of “best artificial body”. All the contestants had to present a doctor-certified proof of their surgical enhancements. Titles like Miss Biggest Change were also presented. A few shots of Botox, cheek and waist liposuction and a surgery to widen the eyes; fetched Feng Qian the title of Miss Plastic Surgery 2004.
8. Sister Italia
This was the brainchild of Father Antonio Rungi, an Italian Catholic priest. Father Rungi announced an online Sister Italia contest in 2008 for nuns in the age group of 18 and 40. People could choose the most attractive nun from the pictures and spiritual profiles in his blog. But before the contest took off, there was a huge controversy and Father Rungi had to cancel the event.
7. Alternative Miss Ireland
Dr. Jekyll and Hyde would have won this competition hands down. The contestants (men, women or animals) of Alternative Miss Ireland are supposed to bring out their alter egos on the stage with whatever props they consider necessary. There are swimwear and eveningwear rounds where judges looks for usual pageant stuff like poise and personality. But what happens inside these rounds can be unpredictable, whacky and outrageous. The contestants of 2009 lied down on bed of nails, turned into green monsters, cracked sex jokes and even snorted cocaine. The winner was crowned with the famous Medusa Crown of Shamrocks.
6. Miss Pregnant
Beauty pageant candidates expelled for their hidden belly secrets can still win the crown; they just have to head in a different direction. Miss Pregnant pageants are being “born” in almost every country. After Peru and Russia, the US also had a contest for to-be-mommies in Cincinnati. The candidates had to strut down the ramp in bikinis before the judges to win $1000 for baby expenses.
5. Miss Prisoner
If looks could kill, some inmates of Bogota’s Buen Pastor Prison would be serving a double sentence. Every year this Colombian jail holds a Miss Prisoner contest in memory of Virgin of Mercedes, prisoners’ patron saint. Participants walk down in elaborate masks, feathers and gowns to win the coveted title. Contests like these are also held in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Nairobi and Lithuania to boost confidence and desire for reform among the inmates. While cash prizes are common in these pageants, a Siberian prison even offers an early parole to the winner.
4. Miss Condom
Here is how this one goes. You just take a condom, prepare your lungs and blow it to the hilt. Thailand, a country battling growing AIDS problem, hosts this four-nation contest. Aimed as an infotainment event, the contest also requires participants to answer questions on the deadly virus and safe sex practices.
3. Miss Mama Kilo
Most of the beauty pageants set a weight limit for the participants. Miss Mama Kilo also has a strict weight limit but the contestants have to be over that limit and not under it in order to qualify for the contest. The annual pageant held in Cameroon invites all women over 90 kilos to walk down the ramp. The beauties are judged not by their waist but by their views on various social issues and traditional housekeeping skills. Miss Mama Kilo is Cameroon’s way of changing perception of plus-size women.
2. Miss Muslim Moral
When Khadra al-Mubarak said he was looking for women with inner beauty to participate in his beauty pageant, he actually meant it. The participants of “Queen of Beautiful Morals” held in Saudi Arabia have to be covered completely in their black abayas. There is no Miss Congeniality, Miss Perfect Ten or Miss Beautiful Smile in this contest. Candidates are judged on their moral, family and social values. The winner of the pageant took away $1333 cash, a diamond watch and a paid vacation in Malaysia among other prizes.
1. Miss Landmine Survivor
The landmine problem in Angola and Cambodia stirred artist Mortan Traavik to start this pageant. The idea was to highlight the issue and restore self-esteem among landmine survivors. The Cambodian authorities thought the contest was distasteful and banned it. It was later held in Norway. The winner of Miss Landmine Survivor Angola gets a customized prosthesis made in Norway.