Alternative beauty contest audience cries foul (Angola)
Miss Landmine is an alternative beauty contest mixed with political statement dreamed up by the Norwegian artist Morten Traavik, in which 10 Angolan women injured by mines model specially adapted clothes and prosthetic limbs.
The project currently exists as a website, but the plan is to create "a fashion magazine in the style of Elle, Vogue and Cosmopolitan" to showcase the contest.
Angola was chosen over other potential countries, such as Afghanistan or Cambodia, because it has "a relaxed and open attitude to physicality and sensuality", the organisers say.
So, a laudable effort to change our perceptions of beauty?
Not at all, argues the Black Looks blog, which calls the contest ill-judged and patronising, an "offensive, disgusting exploitation of African women".
Sokari, the author of those outraged quotes, goes on:
In the background of some of the photos there are white people smiling and glowing as they make up and dress the women - like mannequins. Putting the issue of beauty pageants aside and the patronising comments on western opinions and African cultural traditions, it is still an inappropriate tool, which objectifies women. Besides, landmine survivors are men as well as women ... And who the hell is going to be buying these glossy magazines and wearing these fancy clothes? Certainly not the women survivors who are poor unemployed women?
One commentator on the blog agrees, saying that: "[t]hese middle class/rich Norwegian folks" would be better off campaigning against the production of mines.
Brave and liberating or appallingly misjudged? Surely the question remains open.
Von: 20.03.2007 by Peter Walker, guardian.co.uk