Charlotte Hannah
August 07, 2013

Hundreds Enter Miss Iceland Pageant to Prove It’s Pointless (VIDEO)

“I actually don’t want to be Miss Iceland. I signed up to make fun of this competition,” says Matthildur Helgadóttir-Jónudóttir.

She’s not alone. Matthildur is one of over a thousand Icelanders who have signed up for the Miss Iceland competition not because they think they’ll win, but in protest against its narrow view of beauty. These hopefuls include a 48-year-old pastor, an 80-year-old retired woman, a member of Iceland’s parliament and even a 47-year-old male electrician.

“This competition is discriminating [against] men,” says electrician Reynír Sigúrdbjörnsson. “If there should be a Miss Iceland contest, there should be a contest for Mr. Iceland too.”

Valid point – though, for these activists, what it really comes down to is the belief that Iceland shouldn’t have a national beauty contest to begin with. The existence of a Miss Iceland pageant has fueled controversy among the 315,000 inhabitants of the island nation since its creation. Back in the 1970s, protestors put a sash on a cow and walked it through the hotel in which the pageant was taking place. In 1985, the women of the Reykjavik (Iceland’s capital city) city council once arrived to a meeting dressed as pageant competitors.

According to the pageant’s chief executive, Rafn Rafnsson, none of these unorthodox contestants have any hope of being Miss Iceland – despite the fact that the protest was set off by his own assertion that, “There is no Miss Iceland stereotype.”

“We have to follow the rules set by the international contest,” he says, referring to the Miss World pageant the winner would be sent to on behalf of Iceland. Miss World requires its competitors be between 18 and 24, unmarried, childless and – unfortunately for Reynír – women.

While they may not immediately succeed in getting the pageant shut down, activists are hopeful for what their protest’s popularity means for their country.

“[The sign-up] shows that feminism in Iceland still stands strong and maybe even is growing,” said Sigridur Ingibjörg Ingadóttir, a member of parliament.

Good luck, folks.