After the brief controversy of the Miss France contest, a national French beauty pageant of a different kind took place in the eastern French city of Mulhouse last weekend, where Solange Marais of the Aquitaine region was elected Miss Ronde 2014.
This was a contest to celebrate the larger, curvier French beauty (Miss Ronde/Miss Round rhymes with Miss Monde/Miss World) and what the contestants lacked in classic silhouettes, they more than made up for in what the organisers described as “opulent busts” and “ample thighs”.
Amongst these goddesses of the generously-proportioned curve, the expansive flesh and the ambitions to match, it was a pretty and large-chested hairdresser from Bergerac (Dordogne) who came away with the tiara and the sparkling sash.
At a pin-up size 46 (that’s size 18 in Irish), Solange Marais was chosen at the end of a show full of energy and colour, which was presented by national TV presenter Karine Lima, actress Sophie Favier and stand-up comedienne Katia Doris. Solange had to fight off a heavy challenge from 24 other pretenders to the coveted national title. First runner-up was Miss Ronde Franche-Comté, Eloïse Crivelli and the second runner-up place was claimed by Miss Ronde Corsica Jessica Lippi, with Miss Ronde Île-de-France, Anaïs Dupont coming in fourth.
23-year-old Bergerac beauty Solange Marais was proud of her ample curves, knowing that she could be feminine and desirable. She confirmed that she was “happy and had finally come to terms” with a body that took her a long time to accept.
“Before, I was overweight by 60kg and I was sick,” she admitted on air to radio station RTL. “Now, I’m round and I feel very good in myself. It’s a wonderful victory for me,” added this girl who’s surely measured for success.
With an evening gown section and a swimsuit section, the competition takes place annually on the third week of January. Along with the other beauty pageants, it has grown in size, according to “Miss Ronde” competition creator Thierry Frézard:
“From about 50 participants in 2007, we’ve now gone past the 2,000 mark for the 2014 competition,” said a proud Frézard at a packed hall in Mulhouse. There’s no age limit to this competition and neither is there a particular size to respect. The only imperative criterium: you must weigh at least 6kg more than the standard weight for your size. For example, if your height is 1.5m, then you need to weigh 56kg or more. Then, according to Mr Frézard, follows an assessment based on your level of obesity, your poise, your charisma and, of course, the quality of your speech.
Even if the nutritionists and the miracle-diet stars are aghast at such a spectacle, the idea is clearly to fight against the diktat of skinniness and to give back confidence to all those who suffer because of their curves. According the figures from the organising committee, only 20% of the women in the world are below a size 40 (Size 12 in Ireland or UK) and 50% of French women over the age of 35 are overweight. A beauty contest with a future, it would seem.