A child who watched the Miss India pageant on TV with her mother in late 2000s. Growing up, all she wanted was to win Miss India one day. Right from a very early age, she starts preparing towards being the most ideal candidate for Miss India. She maintains a healthy lifestyle, makes her academic profile stronger, builds her public speaking skill; she doesn’t leave a stone unturned. She is 21 now and thinks she is ready to finally put her years of preparation to test and participate in Miss India. But guess what! No matter how much she worked on her skills, there was something beyond her control that stops her from even trying to achieve her dream. Because she is 5’3″…………
She is sufficiently tall in terms of average height of Indian women, but short as per national pageants’ requirements. Unfortunately this is the story of millions of young girls across the country in India. Just having the dream of winning the crown and being ready to put all the required hard work is of no value, if you aren’t tall enough. But do we really need this criteria? Does this criteria hold any relevance in terms of talent of a person?
The only argument for having a height criteria at national pageants is that to win an international pageant, you need to be of a certain height. Firstly, except for a very few pageants, most prestigious international pageants such as Miss Universe and Miss World don’t have a minimum height requirement. More importantly, why do we define Miss India based on what international pageants want! Miss India in itself is a much more prestigious title than some of the so called “Big 4, 5, 6, 8…..” pageants. Except Miss Universe and Miss World, Miss India is actually an older organization as compared to the international pageants it caters to. Believe me when I say this – a common person in India only knows 2 international pageants, Miss World and Miss Universe, and these two pageants don’t have a height criteria.
Another argument is that even though there is no height criteria, shorter girls don’t perform well. This argument is also not completely valid as we have seen many examples of short contestants excelling in pageants.
-Miss Universe Honduras 2012 Jennifer Andrade was just 5’2″ yet won her national pageant and represented her country at Miss Universe pagent.
-Paromita Mitra, a girl of South Asian origin had won the Miss Mississippi pageant and represented her state at the Miss USA 2013. Paromita’s height is 5’3”. Paromita had also previously won the Miss Teen Mississippi 2009 pageant.
-The 1st runner up from Miss America 2012 pageant, Miss Oklahoma Betty Thompson, was just 5’2”, the winner in the same year from Wisconsin, Laura Kaeppeler, was also just 5’4”.
-The chairperson of Miss World, Ms. Julia Morley, herself has said that you can be 5’1” and still win Miss World.
This is the era of social media where height isn’t the most important factor that can help you shine. Many successful Instagram influencers who are currently ruling the digital space, are not “tall enough” as per Miss India’s requirements. But those girls are still very successful in their chosen field. Gone are the day when you had to be of a certain height to be a model. That might be true to some extent even today. But there’s a more lucrative career in the beauty and fashion industry than modelling, and that’s called being an influencer. You don’t need to be 5’8” to be a successful influencer! All you need is talent! The audience won’t follow you just because you are tall or short. They will follow you only if they like you and what you are bringing to the table. If that’s the case, will it be fair to stop talented young girls from participating in Miss India? May be by stopping them, Miss India is missing out on crowning a potential future superstar!
It’s about time to bring some change! Removing height criteria is not just beneficial for the participants, it will also help Miss India in growing its base. It’s about being more inclusive in variety of selection. Miss India will become more accessible, more relatable and more achievable of every Indian girl who thought the crown should be on her head. And not just crown, we know for sure that many girls below 5’5″ would go to any extent just to be on that stage, let alone winning.
Having said this, we also acknowledge the face that Femina Miss India and Miss Diva had been quite open to feedback and suggestions from TGPC and other pageant influencing pages. Few of the many suggestions are listed as below:
- We said, give us stage representatives, Femina did it in 2017. Whoaaa!!!
- We said, remove reality show format from Miss Diva and make it a real time pageant. They did it in 2018.
- We said, appoint a representative for Diva this year and send the winner to next edition of Miss Universe. Miss Diva did it in 2019.
- We said, keep the finale live and ticket based so that fans can watch it personally. The listened to us.
- Miss India org has previously reduced the height criteria from 5’6″ to 5’5″ to be more accommodating of talents.
So, for all the girls below 5’5″ who want just ONE chance to be considered for the pageant, we urge you Miss India and Miss Diva, let’s scrap the height criteria and revolutionise the Indian pageantry once again!!!
If you believe Height criteria should be removed. Don’t forget to comment below.
Article by: Jinendra Aherkar