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In which people are judged by their physical appearance. Expect a swimsuit round—or it could be the entire contest.
If there is a Straw Feminist in the regular cast, she will complain. Also, any men dressing up as women will always do well, despite, you know, it not making any sense! Little note for technicalities: a pageant will tend to involve several different kinds of dresses (evening, swimsuit, etc.), a talent show, and a personality test ("what would you do to save the world etc."), while a contest will probably be much simpler (and hence easier to film).
Good place to murder someone too.
Anime & Manga
- In Great Teacher Onizuka, Eicichi Onizuka helps one of his students feel like she is good for something, by encouraging her to enter a pageant.
- The gang force Natsumi to take part in one in an episode of Keroro Gunsou. Thanks to a little accident with a growth ray, the poor girl ends up traumatized.
- In Airmaster the big-chested airhead with a crush on Maki wins a beach beauty pageant thanks to a very convincing imitation of a Holstein cow. It has to be seen to be believed.
- Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch has the "Mermaid Contest".
- There apparently is one going on in the School Festival in Gokinjo Monogatari, but the characters ignore it rather spectacularly.
- Mrs. Ketchum pulls this off in an episode of Pokémon. Keep in mind she is easily twice as old as the next oldest entrant. And she STILL won!
- Ah! My Goddess: Belldandy won the school pageant. Sayoko was not pleased.
- Urusei Yatsura has one beauty pagent storyline. In both anime and manga it features some really crazy setup and initial events; however, in the anime things end early with Ataru making off with the proceeds, while the manga ends with a big fight scene featuring a gorilla, a python and a bear with boxing gloves. Plus Ran kissing most of her fellow contestants.
- Omamori Himari has a chapter with a beauty contest. Surprisingly, the title character does not win. She spends most of the chapter talking with Yuuto, and therefore is not present to be judged, despite having entered. As a result, Lizlet wins the contest.
- Martian Successor Nadesico had the Miss Nadesico contest, a parody of the Miss Macross contest of Super Dimension Fortress Macross. It started out as a simple talent contest to raise morale, but Yurika changed it into a contest with the winner being captain for a day. The higher ups changed it to be captain permanently just to get rid of Yurika! The crew tossed in the bathing suit portion and by the end of the episode, the only one not participating was Ryoko (which was a good thing, since she was able to warn everyone of a Jovian attack. Existential Crisis are a good thing!). At the end, Ruri ends up winning, but steps down out of utter embarrassment over the whole thing and Yurika gets her title back by virtue of being second place! It's a spectacular Reassignment Backfire!
- As mentioned above, Super Dimension Fortress Macross has the Miss Macross contest, which was won by Idol Singer Lynn Minmei. In Macross Frontier, the Macross Quarter has its own version in which Ranka Lee participates. She doesn't win, but it still gets her noticed.
- One chapter of Ai Kora involves a "Miss Sakashitamon" contest, which the male student judges use as an excuse to get the girls to indulge in the guys' fetishes. The girls eventually get fed up and start a riot, leading to the contest being banned.
- The infamous fourth episode of Lost Universe, Millie wins largely because all the other contestants were too busy running for their lives when terrorists attacked.
- During a lull in the carnage in Infinite Ryvius, the crew stage a party to lighten morale, one of the designated event planners inserts a call-in voting contest as to the prettiest girl aboard.
- There's one in Fairy Tail where the main seven female guild members partecipate. Then Evergreen comes forth and petrify them, but this is another story.
- At the start of Mobile Suit Gundam F 91, Seabook and his friends are at such a contest where Seabook's girlfriend Cecily is a participant; just after she wins, the Crossbone Vanguard attacks their colony and things get worse.
- In Tenchi Universe, the girls, minus Sasami, enter a beauty contest in order to win some much-needed money thanks to events that put them on the run. Kiyone almost wins the event (thanks to some thought-to-be-embarrassing Tan Lines) until Bounty Hunter Nagi shows up and wins it. However, as they escape, Ryoko swipes the money anyway, adding to their problem!
- Ai, Mai, Mii and Mea enter one in Popotan. Mii wins, despite (or, more likely, because of) her age.
- Beauty contests, often of an impromptu sort, were a staple of stand-alone Archie Comics stories during The Seventies and The Eighties in particular. Most often, they took place at the beach. A frequently-used premise had the contestants—which nearly always included Betty and Veronica—attempt to sweet-talk the judge(s) — usually Archie, and sometimes Reggie as well—into voting for them. If Midge was a contestant, this inevitably meant her Dumb Muscle boyfriend Moose threatening the judge(s) into voting for her (a reversal of the usual Green-Eyed Monster Moose plots where merely glancing at Midge from a distance would earn Archie or Reggie a curb stomp).
Films — Live-Action
- Drop-Dead Gorgeous is a darkly comedic Satire of beauty pageants in general.
- As is Smile.
- Ellen Page's character in Whip It starts out a (reluctant) pageant girl.
- Miss Congeniality is a comedy crime thriller about a hard-nosed Tomboy cop who goes undercover as a pageant contestant in order to uncover a murder plot.
- A rather disturbing child beauty contest is featured in Little Miss Sunshine—and apparently it's not that unlike actual child beauty pageants.
- Venezuelan film Puras Joyitas has the Beauty Contest as the background of the action. The event have even some Straw Feminist protesting who really are along with the protagonists in their real plan.
- Sleeper: Woody Allen's fugitive in the future is captured and made to assimilate through mental manipulation, put in a beauty contest scenario in a lab. It works, as a switch is thrown and he breathily spouts a banal speech about using the title to promote peace and brotherhood.
- Temptation Island is centered around the finalists of the Miss Manila Sunshine contest.
- Book 4 of The Faerie Queene: Satyrane holds a tournament to determine the strongest, most-skilled knight, followed by a beauty contest for the knights' ladies. The prizes for the winners would be... each other! The beauty contest entrants are judged not only for their beauty but their purity and are tested by a magic girdle that can only be worn by a virgin. The judges apparently don't share the author's views on chastity, however, and stubbornly declare a princess (who's really a clone—long, sad story) the winner over the one girl the girdle will fit. The winning knight passes up the prize due to being secretly a Sweet Polly Oliver.
- The Robert Lynn Asprin/Jody Lynn Nye fantasy collection Myth-Told Tales includes a story detailing the heroes' involvement in an interdimensional pageant.
- The book Twenty Pageants Later is told from the POV of a beauty queen's younger/less attractive sister, when her middle school decides to hold a beauty pageant.
- The book Beauty Queens is about a plane of girls going to compete in the Miss Teen Dream pageant.
- The Baby Sitters Club's "Little Miss Stoneybrook...and Dawn" has the club entering their female charges in the contest. One is heartbroken when she loses, another runs off the stage in tears due to her shyness, and another girl is delighted when she wins runner-up because the prize is a shopping spree at a toy store.
- There seems to be an explosion of reality TV featuring particularly Egregious examples of how terrible beauty pageants can be—a notable example being Toddlers and Tiaras—though, to the participants, it's Serious Business.
- The NCIS episode "Bikini Wax" has a female naval petty officer found dead in the toilets at one of these contests. Tony and the objectification of women are two things that mix explosively...
Kate: Give him 5 seconds...
- Saved by the Bell also did one over the Miss Bayside tournament. Straw Feminist Jessie protested and Slater made a bet with Zack that Screech couldn't win it. When Mr Belding agrees to let men enter the contest, Jessie and Slater also enter.
- The Bionic Woman episode "Bionic Beauty". Jaime Sommers enters the Miss United States contest in order to uncover an espionage operation.
- Twin Peaks closes its second season with a Miss Twin Peaks beauty pageant, with the main female characters competing.
- The Tru Calling episode "Drop Dead Gorgeous" centers around a beauty contest.
- The Steve Harvey Show has Bullethead entering (and winning!) the Miss Booker T. Pageant to spite Lydia and win a computer.
- Parodied in Arrested Development with an "Inner Beauty Contest". Maeby tried to prove a point about how, in spite of the hype, they would pick the prettiest girl by dressing up as her homely, wheelchair-bound alter-ego Shirley. To her surprise, she still made it to the finals (as did Anne). In the end, she decides to bow out, feeling she doesn't deserve to win, only for the judges and audience to declare her sudden ability to walk as a miracle and award her first place anyway.
- The boys in Malcolm in the Middle enters their mother Lois into the "Miss Tri-County" pageant as a joke. She is so flattered by the sentiment, which she thinks is genuine, that she gave it a go. After much back-stabbing and sabotage by the other contestants, she takes the prize after showing off her talent at whistling.
- A Charlies Angels episode has the title characters entering the "Miss Chrysanthemum" pageant to find out who's frightening away the contestants.
- A Dukes of Hazzard episode has Boss Hogg backing Daisy in the "Miss Tri-Counties" pageant against a rival county boss's contestant. After Daisy wins the talent competitions, she's kidnapped by the rival boss's henchmen to prevent her from competing in the swimsuit portion.
- The Andy Griffith Show: "The Beauty Contest."
- Gilligans Island, episode “Beauty Is as Beauty Does". Mary Ann, Mrs. Howell and Ginger fight to become “Miss Castaway". With the Skipper, Mr. Howell and the Professor each coaching and rooting for a different girl, the deciding vote is now up to Gilligan!
- Happy Days, "Beauty Contest". Richie, Ralph and Potsie put on a fake "Miss Arnold's" beauty pageant.
- In the Smallville episode "Fierce", Kara won the Miss Sweet Corn contest.
- In the Parks and Recreation episode "Beauty Pageant", Leslie becomes a Rogue Juror for one of these. Leslie wants to give the prize to an intelligent woman who does charity work while the rest of the judging panel favors a super-hot vapid moron. During the talent portion, the latter contestant impresses the judges other than Leslie with her "talent" of baton twirling, which consisted of nothing other than dancing sexily while holding a baton. Also, April enters the contest for the six hundred dollar prize, but quits in the middle of the competition when she learns it's six hundred dollars in gift certificates rather than six hundred dollars cash. Incidentally, April's talent was performing "impressions" in her usual deadpan voice.
- A Get Smart episode had Max protecting a contestant in a pageant against the usual intrigue. At show's end, after a few killings, he apologizes for having her witness such cruelty and treachery. She shrugs it off, saying "I'm used to it...after all, it is my third beauty pageant."
- One episode of Quantum Leap has Sam leaping into a young (female) beauty pageant contestant. His mission is to prevent the life of another contestant from being ruined by a sleazy photographer.
- Family Matters has all the women enter a beauty contest in a later season, only to be sabotaged and locked in the dressing room by Steve Urkel's cousin Myrtle.
- An episode of Dawson's Creek has Joey enter a beauty contest, melting the hearts of all the boys around her as well as Dawson's, who finally realizes his feelings for her. The subplot has Pacey entering to win the prize money, inadvertently making a point about gender equality.
Myths & Religion
- Want to make any wedding instantly more fun? Just take one golden apple, write on it "For the Fairest" and throw it in the middle of a wedding attended by the most beautiful and vain goddesses in the world. When Eris threw the Apple of Discord into Thetis' wedding, it took more than twenty years for this conflict to be resolved. Eventually it came down to three of the most powerful goddesses you could name — Hera, queen of the gods, Athena, goddess of war, and Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Zeus, not wanting any of the gods to face the wrath of the losers, picked the handsomest human man he could find to make the choice (because being beautiful makes you a great judge of beauty). They each tried to bribe him—one with wisdom, one with all of Asia, and one with the most beautiful woman in the world. Being a young fool, Paris chose Aphrodite. The Trojan War ensues.
- The book of Esther in The Bible sets the story in motion when King Ahasuerus decides to find a new queen with what amounts to an empire-wide beauty pageant. (Runners-up got to be in the king's harem.) The winner, of course, is Esther. Older Than Feudalism.
- Incredibly for the medium, Howard Stern has hosted multiple beauty contests on his show over the years. Interns, Playboy Bunnies, amputees, and he once even had three of Tiger Woods' dozen plus mistresses compete against one another.
- In Of Thee I Sing, the Wintergreen campaign decides to hold a beauty contest in Atlantic City, for the purpose of giving his run for President a love interest. Unfortunately for the winner, Wintergreen doesn't keep his promise to marry her.
- The second act of The Skin of Our Teeth begins with a beauty contest in Atlantic City, judged by Mr. Antrobus. Mrs. Antrobus is somewhat less than pleased when he chooses their former maid Sabina as the winner.
- The female team members of Persona 4 are entered into one of these by Yosuke. Teddie manages to get there to be a swimsuit round when he becomes an honorary judge after the crossdressing pageant which the girls entered the boys into in revenge. Naoto isn't best pleased by this; she bails, but wins the contest anyway.
- According to her trophy description in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Jody Summer from F-Zero was "chosen as Miss Galactic Space Federation" after F-Zero X. But Miss Galactic Space Federation equates more to "being the spokeswoman for a para-militaristic organization that works to ensure law, order, peace, and harmony throughout the cosmos and holds control over seven galaxies" than "being a bikini model" (although, don't get us wrong, she could definitely pull it off).
- A purer example comes from that of Mrs. Arrow in F-Zero GX, with the possible subversion in that she's a female bodybuilder, so said contest is judged moreso on physique than beauty (but she's not lacking the latter either). Oddly enough, no other contestants are shown (Octoman and Michael Chain are also shown posing in their own videos, but they obviously don't count), so there's no way of knowing if she actually won.
- Super Robot Wars W has the Miss Nadesico contest (mentioned above), but with a twist: the whole thing is a set-up by Baron Ashura disguised as Prof. Yumi, who wants someone incompetent put in charge of the heroes. As is standard practice for Super Robot Wars, Hilarity Ensues.
- Gotham Girls has a pageant which is all talent, which figures as it's a trap set up by Bat-Girl to ensnare the villains.
- RPG World did one combining it with Beach Episode, and of course Hero turns out to be the attractive redhead who received a third of the votes to win.
- The Perpetual Aquarium did a "Petpets in Tiaras" spoof of the current trend in reality shows to show children's pageants.
- The Simpsons episode "Lisa the Beauty Queen". Homer enters Lisa in the Little Miss Springfield pageant to improve her self-image; she gets second place, but then the winner is struck by lightning and Lisa gets the (melted) crown and scepter by default. After she starts railing against Laramie Cigarettes (a major sponsor of the contest, who wanted to use her to help market their products to kids), they get Lisa disqualified on a technicality.
- "A Streetcar Named Marge" opens with the family watching a pageant which cleverly re-purposes Janis Ian's "At Seventeen" as its theme.
- Danny Phantom episode "Beauty Marked" where Soapbox Sadie Sam Manson joins the Beauty Pageant in her school to undermine it. The pageant is all just an elaborate ruse for the host to find a perfect bride for her jerk of a brother. Sam wins the contest either way, but refuses to take the tiara, stating its "stupid".
- One episode of Futurama has the crew delivering the crown to such a contest. Leela thinks the whole thing is sexist and stupid... until she thinks she won by accident when Zapp Brannigan, one of the judges, calls out her name in surprise. Though keep in mind that the contestants include a giant anemone and an apparent energy lifeform.
- King of the Hill episode "Peggy's Pageant Fever" had Peggy enter the Mrs. Heimlich County beauty pageant to win a new white pickup truck, only to find out that she was not as attractive, talented, or prolific at childbearing as her fellow contestants. Though her friend Nancy was a judge, they stop speaking to each other when Peggy implies that obvious blonde beauties don't deserve to win. Peggy hires a coach to help her succeed, but in the end Hank paints his truck white so that Peggy does not need to go through with the pageant (and ultimately humiliate herself.)
- A fairly minor example: in the first Code Lyoko episode, it's established that Kadic's annual "prom" (which acts more like a Friday night mixer) has a beauty contest. Sissi had won the contest the previous year, and is a contestant in the episode, going up against two background characters. The winner is never known, due to a giant teddy bear interrupting the announcement. No, really.
- The Tripping the Rift episode "Miss Galaxy 5000" has Six competing in one of these.
- The Fairly Odd Parents has an episode based around this. Timmy's dad entered, despite it being an all-female contest. He won.
- In an episode of The Flintstones, Fred and Barney were roped into judging one. Wilma and Betty found out and entered; Fred and Barney, possibly fearing for their lives, declared them the winners.
- The Jetsons put a slight twist on the trope. George entered as a judge, but wore a very Paper-Thin Disguise to prevent Jane finding out he'd spent an evening judging beautiful women. Meanwhile, Jane entered independently, and also wore a disguise in case George happened to see. Naturally, George declared Jane the winner, but they were both disqualified when they discovered they were married.
- In the South Park episode "Dead Celebrities", Ike was possessed by Michael Jackson. The boys realize Jackson would only leave the body by gaining the acceptance he wanted in life. They figure they can achieve this by taking him to a children's beauty pageant.
- In the Family Guy episode "Boys Do Cry", Stewie is entered in the Little Miss Texas pageant as "Stephanie Griffin." The audience tries to chase him once his wig falls off.
- In the Rugrats episode "Beauty Contest", Tommy Pickles' father and grandfather, Stu and Lou, disguise Tommy as a girl and enter him in the Little Miss Lovely contest, unknowingly competing against his cousin, Angelica. Tommy's disqualified after Didi shows up and outs Tommy in anger. In a Hilarious in Hindsight moment, Lou realizes he could have just rooted for Angelica the entire time. She was his granddaughter, after all!
- An episode of Recess has the Ashleys enter Spinelli in the "Little Miss Blush Beauty Pageant" (a pageant for 10 year olds) as a joke. Spinelli decides to get the Ashleys back by winning the contest. She does
- Transformers Rescue Bots has the Miss Griffin Rock contest. It features speed calculus.
- Miss America, Miss World, Miss USA, Miss Universe.
- The former Governor of Alaska won a local one and came second in her state one.
- Miss University UK got some considerable protests from university students.
- Kristin Chenoweth, star of Wicked and Pushing Daisies, started out in beauty pageants.
- As did Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry and Jeri Ryan.
- The Rose of Tralee (non-Irish viewers may be more familiar with it's parody the "Lovely Girls" competition in Father Ted).
- As mentioned above, there are children's beauty pageants, and they are Serious Business to the point of child abuse. In one news expose, a hidden camera was put in the changing rooms, and captured such things as a father bragging about getting his 8-year-old daughter breast implants, then making her take off her top and bouncing her up and down to show another father "how well they jiggle." Eugh.
- Wives and concubines for Oriental harems often were picked by a variation of this.
- On the entry form, in the space that said "Do Not Write Here", Homer wrote "Okay"