For contestants stepping onto a beauty pageant stage, the schedule is usually pretty cookie cutter. Flex abs, smile big, respond to predetermined questions, flex abs, smile big again.
But the women of Miss Peru 2018 had a different agenda. On Sunday night, during the part of the show where the participants would normally recite their body measurements — bust, waist, hips — they stated alarming statistics about violence against women in Peru.
“My name is Camila Canicoba,” said the first contestant, “and I represent the department of Lima. My measurements are: 2,202 cases of murdered women reported in the last nine years in my country.”
“My name is Juana Acevedo and my measurements are: more than 70% of women in our country are victims of street harassment.”
“My name is Luciana Fernández and I represent the city of Huánuco, and my measurements are: 13,000 girls suffer sexual abuse in our country.”
“My name is Melina Machuca, I represent the department of Cajamarca, and my measurements are: more than 80% of women in my city suffer from violence.”
Organizers of the pageant were in on the change in scheduling. As each woman, dressed in a shimmery gold gown, walked up to the microphone to read a statistic, imagery of real newspaper clippings depicting real women who had been harmed were shown on large screens.
Peru has seen an onslaught of violence against its female population in recent years, and this platform has shed public light on the horrifying happenings. A conversation is starting thanks to these brave beauty queens and the pageant organizers. During the show, the hashtag #MisMedidasSon (“my measurements are”) started trending on Twitter.
#MisMedidasSon OMG how beautiful are these strong women?!?! SO MUCH LOVE
— just like liz (@housebuiltbyliz) November 1, 2017
— Caroline Yezer (@carolineyezer) October 31, 2017
You can watch it go down (in Spanish) here:
The whole thing is an incredible political statement at a time when the South American country needs it most. And with the global attention these pageant participants have gained, one can only hope change is on the way.