Friday, 17 June 2016


The first Miss Nigeria contest was won by Grace Atinuke in 1957. Since then a lot has changed about the beauty contest.

When the 26 year old won the maiden award, it didn’t have the fun fare that has characterised today’s beauty pageants.

According to her, it was more of a photo contest organised by the Daily Times in Lagos. Atinuke who was born in 1931 said it was her younger brother who sent her photo while she was away to Kaduna from Kano. She was later selected to travel to Lagos where she was eventually crowned as the winner of the country first Miss Nigeria’s contest.

The tide of the contest, and all beauty pageants in the country, has changed.

According to the Atinuke, the contest was more about judging what might be considered the natural beauty of the contestants especially the face rather than the body.

There was no cat walk, there was no bikini, there was no make-up nor was there the pool session which would later be scrapped by the Miss Nigerian contest. The judges were apparently focused on what would appeal naturally to them in a ‘natural woman’.

Beauty pageant in the country bear no semblance to the first now and with modernity, the trend and taste has changed. Beauty pageants are now expected to maintain a specific shape and height. There are expected to walk in a certain feline way while showing how beautiful they are in full with emphasis on the face as it is on the body. The glamour and fun that winners of beauty pageants enjoy now cannot be compared to the paltry sum the past winners got. No doubt, a winner of a beauty pageant in Nigeria is likely to continue in the entertainment or show business.

This was not the case for Atinuke who eventually went to England to study nursing and later qualified as a state registered nurse in 1961. She worked as a nurse in several hospitals in London before returning to Nigeria to continue her profession. Although she won the first Miss Nigeria pageant, she became more successful in her profession.

The new pageant has all the ingredients of modernity and it is almost impossible for people like Atinuke to stand a chance now as the standard for measuring beauty has changed.

However, beauty they say, is in the eye of the beholder…

What do you think? Do you think the standard for awarding beauty pageants this modern period is better than the old one?
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