The Crownless Queen- Iris Mittenaere

Iris Mittenaere, Miss Universe 2016

They say if the Crown fits, wear it!

But what if it does not fit?

What if there’s no crown left to begin with?

Will a queen still be the queen without a crown on her head?

It sure seems the fate of Iris Mittenaere who won the Miss Universe pageant last January.  Iris wore the glittery Miss Universe crown with pride on her winning night. But soon after her victory the crown faded away and all she was left with was the sash. In her reign as Miss Universe so far Iris only wore her crown for her first official week in New York for the media tour and for her homecoming. Apart from that she wore the Diamond Nexus crown for her appearance at Puteri Indonesia. As per the rumours, Iris’ reign might come to an end in November 2017. Which means she wore the Miss Universe crown for only one international trip (apart from her homecoming) in her entire reign? Forget about international trips, she hasn’t worn her crown for any official appearances since her trip to Indonesia. This is unprecedented for a pageant winner. But this raises and important question – is wearing the crown really necessary for a Miss Universe?

Miss USA 2014 Nia Sanchez once said “Crown-induced head dents are a real thing”. Even Sushmita Sen had mentioned in an interview that at the end of her reign she felt like the crown had become a part of her body and when she gave away her crown it left a circular mark on her head. Beauty queens were always identified by the crown they are wearing. Even a person who may not have watched the pageant’s telecast can recognise a beauty queen because of her crown. Although the sash of a pageant winner also helps in setting her apart from the crowd, crown still remains the most important part of a beauty queen’s appearance. Crown is not a mere accessory; it’s the identity of a beauty queen.

Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff from Missouri crowned Miss Teen USA 2017
Even Miss Teen USA winners were wearing DNL crown

Gone are the days when Miss Universe winners were asked to wear crown all the time during their reign. In August 2016, MUO cancelled the sponsorship contract with Diamonds International Corporation (DIC) who was supposed to be the crown provider for Miss Universe pageant till 2024. Evidently enough, Pia Wurtzbach was rarely seen wearing the DIC crown after August 2016. Even DIC’s name and logo were removed from the list of sponsors on MUO’s website. This year things got worse as MUO sued DIC for trademark infringement. Being in a legal battle, it is understandable why MUO is trying to avoid using the DIC crowns. The last two Miss Teen USA winners were also crowned using the DNL crown.

What consequences absence of crown may have on the Miss Universe pageant? As mentioned earlier in this article, Crown gives identity to a Beauty Queen. Unlike Miss America or Miss World, the Miss Universe pageant does not have an iconic and historical design that can strengthen the MUO’s brands. But not having a crown at all may make things worse. WME-IMG is very unconventional in its ways of managing the MUO. Some of the changes brought by the WME-IMG are worth appreciating, but many of the other changes make it clear that they don’t know how to run a beauty pageant. The WME-IMG needs to understand the significance of a crown in a beauty queen’s reign. Hopefully the crown fiasco of MUO will get resolved in next few months and may Iris be the first and the last crownless miss universe.

Author: Jinendra Aherkar