CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Miss World pageant has banned the bikini competition from this year's pageant in Indonesia on Sept. 28. Although many people may see this as a major feat in the feminist movement, the ban is focused more directly on Indonesian culture and religious values.Indonesia is mainly a Muslim country, and its culture believes that a woman's body is sacred and should not be revealed. Many Indonesian people and religious groups were concerned about the bikini portion of the pageant and how it would represent Indonesia, as it is the hosting country. The pageant organizers discussed the conflict and decided, in respect for the culture, to replace the bikinis with modest sarongs, traditional Indonesian women's clothing.The bikini ban is shocking since many people are used to watching traditional beauty pageants with this particular segment. Despite breaking age-old tradition, with the pageant organizers' decision, the Miss World 2013 pageant has sent a message of respect for other cultures and religions to the world.
Although the focus of the ban is not feminist, it is arguably impossible not to consider the impact of the issue on the feminist movement. The 2013 Miss World pageant will be the first pageant in many years to restrict putting women's bodies on display.This upcoming pageant alone may relieve some of the sexism that our society places directly on women today. By downplaying the pageant contestants' "standard model" bodies that our society deems beautiful, it may allow an offset in the commercial and fashion industries that dictate the size and shape a woman needs to obtain to be "beautiful."The modesty of the competition may even inspire the commercial and fashion industries to begin dressing their models and actresses in less revealing/provocative clothing or putting them in similarly themed scenes. This would influence women to dress and act in a manner that brings respect to their bodies and dissolve their desire to wear lewd clothing to make them feel "beautiful" like the models and actresses in the commercial and fashion industries. Overall, the Miss World 2013 pageant has caused a lot of controversy within Indonesia and among religious organizations and women's rights activists. Whether the ban will cause a major change in the world is questionable, but it has the possibility to be the start of a tidal wave of changes in the near future.