In an attempt to open up the Miss Iceland competition to new blood, organizers may also have opened up a can of worms. Video by WSJ’s Ellen Jervell.
REYKJAVIK, Iceland—In early July, eight women wearing sweaters began their week by filing into a sunlit meeting room in Iceland’s cozy capital to hatch a scheme.
The objective: Put Miss Iceland to death.
The women, including a 48-year-old pastor and an author in her early 30s, don’t actually want to harm the reigning 5-foot-9 beauty queen crowned in 2011. Instead, they dream of ending a competition that has endured for nearly half a century and helped put this Nordic island nation of 315,000 people on the map.
“Our goal must be to kill it,” Asa Richardsdottir, 49-year-old producer in the fine arts industry, said between sips of coffee. Matthildur Helgadottir-Jonudottir, an event manager also in her 40s, nodded in agreement. “Yes,” she said in a loud voice.
As a form of protest, the eight women applied to enter the beauty contest.
Following years of hullabaloo over whether the small country actually needs beauty contests, feminists are freshly emboldened because scores of Icelanders who don’t exactly fit the beauty queen mold signed up for the 2013 event slated for September, generating a wave of local media attention.
The unusual development stems from a rather unclear statement made by the new chief executive of the Miss Iceland contest, Rafn Rafnsson, in hopes of diversifying the field of contestants beyond the statuesque blonde with striking blue eyes that has become the Icelandic stereotype. “There is no Miss Iceland stereotype,” said Mr. Rafnsson, a longtime cameraman and television producer.
After Mr. Rafnsson’s statement, the floodgates opened. Women of all ages, including a prominent member of the nation’s Parliament and an 80-year-old pensioner, applied to enter the contest and even a handful of men took the plunge. Within a week, 1,300 people raised their hands to strut their stuff.
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