Parading the ‘crème de la crème’
Constructing the contest in Barbados, 1958–66
in Imagining Caribbean womanhood
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The 'Carnival Queen' beauty competition began in Barbados in 1958 and was modelled after its lucrative Trinidadian equivalent. This chapter brings into focus the performativity of the beauty contest and considers particularly how modern, cultured beauty was imagined and constructed by its central agents, organisers and contestants. It examines the role of the Jaycees, a youth movement favoured by socially aspirant men, in organising the contests; crucially the Jaycees paired business sponsors to beauty candidates. The chapter considers the experiences of candidates, tasked with delivering idealised femininity on the national stage. It also examines what happened when this process, of making displays of ideal femininity, was seen to lapse, as in the 1964 'Miss Ebony' competition. The 1964 'Miss Ebony' competition was denounced as a failure resulting in a booing fracas as the candidates were rejected by a racist audience.

Imagining Caribbean womanhood

Race, nation and beauty contests, 1929–70

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