Despite the controversies raging for months, the Miss Italia beauty pageant was broadcast as scheduled last night. And so Italy’s beauty queen for 2013 was elected: the winner is 19-year-old Giulia Arena, from Messina (Sicily).
However, for the first time in 24 years, Miss Italia was not broadcast on Italian national television Rai, which refused to air the event, judging it a thing of the past and degrading for women, a decision praised by Chamber of Deputies President Laura Boldrini, who described it as a “modern and civilized choice,” a comment that contributed to fuel arguments for and against the pageant. To lay claim to women’s freedom, the Miss Italia finalists wore t-shirts with the line “nè nude nè mute”, neither naked nor dumb.
For the organizers, Miss Italia is part of Italian history and it is still very much loved by the Italian public, as proved by the fact that many Italian towns, despite budget cuts, decided to continue the tradition of hosting the selections in their squares, attracting crowds as in the past. The contest seems to prove popular among girls themselves, as more than 7,000 enrollments were received this year, surpassing last year’s edition.
To save Miss Italia, born in 1939, TV channel La7 came to the rescue, broadcasting it live from Jesolo (Veneto), although many have maligned it is not for love of the show, but simply for advertising revenues and a possible boost in ratings.
Winner Giulia Arena is 1,70 m, has light brown hair and green eyes, and a tattoo just above the heart quoting a sentence from the 26th canto of the Inferno from Dante’s Divine Comedy, a way to show her pride to be “a daughter of Dante”, she says in interviews. She graduated from high school this year and is studying international law at the university in Milan.
During the years, some of the actresses that have appeared on the stage of Miss Italia are Sofia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Silvana Mangano, Lucia Bosè, Stefania Sandrelli, Maria Grazia Cucinotta. Jury members have included Vittorio De Sica, Luchino Visconti, Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Catherine Deneuve, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Andy Garcia.
Miss Italia has tried to renovate itself in time, changing some of the rules like forbidding married women or mothers from participating and raising the age for participating, however the gist of the event remains the same, with many wondering if such a show has still reason to exist in today’s world.