How Miss France ignited a woke debate over her haircut

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A woman with short hair was recently crowned Miss France, leading some to accuse the pageant of prioritizing “wokeness” and inclusiveness over traditional beauty standards.

Eve Gilles, an “androgynous” 20-year-old with a pixie haircut, was declared the winner of the competition by the seven-person judging panel, despite Gilles placing third overall according to the fan vote.

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Gilles had been outspoken in the lead-up to the competition about the need to modernize the pageant.

“I would like to show that the competition is evolving and society too, that the representation of women is diverse,” Gilles said. “In my opinion, beauty is not limited to a haircut or shapes that we have… or not.”

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The event attracted 5,000 audience members and was watched by another 7.5 million television viewers.

Gilles, representing Nord-Pas-de-Calais, is the first short-haired contestant to win the title. The controversy has courted considerable attention on social media and has even drawn some politicians into the fray, including Green MP Sandrine Rousseau and Fabien Roussel of the Communist Party who have supported Gilles, arguing that society needs to accept diverse expressions of female identity.

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In its effort to modernize, the Miss France franchise has broadened its eligibility criteria to include candidates of any age, mothers, wives and trans women. These changes have also been criticized for not going far enough to challenge unrealistic beauty standards for women.

The Miss France franchise also attracted attention after French courts ordered broadcaster TF1 and production house Endemol to pay compensation to two Miss France finalists for broadcasting topless images of the women without consent during the 2018 competition.

The women were filmed partially unclothed while changing costumes backstage. They will receive €40,000 (about $58,500), per an AFP report.

The payment covers psychological harm as well as infringement of the women’s rights to their images and private life.

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