The Minister of State for Tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda has come out to clarify that the Miss Curvy Uganda beauty contest which has in the last few days become controversial, is not about attracting tourists but rather to appreciate the beauty of Ugandan women.
The Minister made the clarification on Wednesday in a statement presented to Parliament following the public uproar from a section of Ugandans who have accused him of branding women as objects of tourism.
Kiwanda said that the Miss Curvy pageant is not meant to present women as objects of tourism attraction, adding that just like any other pageant, Miss Curvy is meant to appreciate Uganda’s beauty.
The pageant was launched a week ago by the Minister. It seeks to celebrate the Ugandan women who are naturally endowed with curvaceous bodies. Organizers said they wanted to change the perception that only the slim sized women can participate in beauty contests.
Kiwanda told Parliament on Wednesday that it is unfortunate that the press misquoted him as having said, “We have naturally endowed nice looking women that are amazing to look at. Why don’t we use these people as a strategy to promote our tourism industry”.
“This is very wrong and I would like to categorically make it clear that I did not make such a statement. I was approached by Miss Curvy Uganda Beauty Pageant through a letter signed by Mrs Annie Mungoma the C.E.O, inviting me to the launch of the Beauty Pageant at Mestil Hotel Nsambya,” Kiwanda said.
“Among their objectives, they noted that the winner(s) would alongside other beauty queens around Africa engage in humanitarian activities focused on healthy living of women and children,” Kiwanda explained.
The Minister told Parliament that organizing beauty pageants is not new to Uganda, citing examples like Miss Tourism, Miss Uganda, Miss Earth, Regional Cluster Pageants, social clubs, pageants at universities, Mr Kampala among others.
“Beauty pageants or beauty contests have traditionally focused on judging and ranking the physical attributes of the contestants (many a time women), although most contests have evolved to also incorporate personality traits, intellect, talent, and answers as per judges’ criteria.”
“Thus, looking at the concept of Miss Curvy Uganda, I compared it with the other ongoing pageants. Whilst the rest of the pageants put much emphasis on the eligibility criteria take for instance – Height (5’5 and above), 18-25 years of age, single, non engaged, slim and slender, the question that came to my mind just like would for many of you was”.
He said that if there are contests for the small sized ladies, there is no reason why Uganda cannot celebrate diversity of indigenous African women’s beauty without focusing on whether or not one is slim.
Kiwanda said that his participation at the launch of Miss Curvy should not be misinterpreted since his focus was more to support a ‘beauty standard’ that is in line with the native cultural preferences and not using “curvy women” to attract tourists.