Judy Dan and Indrani Rahman at the Miss Universe Pageant photographed by George Silk, 1952 (via)

Jonathan Frid crowns NJ-native Christine Domaniecki ”Miss American Vampire”, 1970 (via)

Strange Beauty Contests- click photo for captions

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Competitors for the Carnival Queen title rehearsing at Holborn Hall, Gray’s Inn Road, London.

The first Caribbean Carnival  (the precursor to Notting Hill Carnival) was held in St Pancras Town Hall in January 1959.

Contenders for the role of Carnival Queen rehearsing for the first Caribbean Carnival, London, January 1959. Photographer Chris Ware.

Faye Craig was crowned “Carnival Queen” and won a trip to carnival in Trinidad the following year. 

There were 12 contestants, all from the UK’s West Indian community - 6 Jamaicans, 6 Trinidadians, 1 from British Guiana and 1 Vincentian.  From left to right, Fay Craig, Faye Sparkes, Charmain Ourre, Shirley Robinson, June Allison Bailey, Beryl Cunningham, Ronia Richards, Carlita Callymore, Monica Dwyer and Terez Wiggins.

The beauty contest was championed by Claudia Jones, a leading Black political activist, founder and editor of the West Indian Gazette, and ‘Mother of Notting Hill Carnival’. Claudia Jones was also a supporter of beauty and hairdressing salons run by West Indian women and insisted that the West India Gazette carry beauty tips as way to communicate to a female audience the goals of Black self-realisation and valuing Black women’s beauty.

"this was before the Black Power Days. This was well before we all knew that we were beautiful. We might not have know it, but she knew, and she started this beauty contest." - Corinne Skinner Carter

Miss Universe semi-finalists for 1968 (via)


"Miss Black & Beautiful" London, 1960s by Raphael Albert 


West Indian Beauty Pageant. London, 1960’s
Photo credit:
Raphael Albert

Beauty pageant held in the city of Greenwood, Mississippi c. 1960. Photo by Henry Clay Anderson (via)


Women’s History Wednesday!

When Dora Martin Berry was crowned the first black Miss University of Iowa in 1955, it made news around the world. “It’s not the color of the skin that should matter, it’s just the person,” she told reporters.

Unfortunately things were not as progressive as they seemed. As she explained in a 1997 oral history interview with the Iowa Women’s Archives, University administration immediately changed pageant rules to prevent such an occurrence in the future, and cancelled or had Berry replaced in events traditionally attended by the campus queen. Despite facing such discrimination, she still has positive memories of the experience. “I never wasted much time being upset about what they did or didn’t do, because they couldn’t diminish what had happened to me,” Berry told IWA. ”That was a gift that is mine to keep.”

Learn more at Iowa Digital Library:

Dora Martin Berry oral history, photos, clippings

African American Women Students at the UI digital collection

The three placegetters in the 1952 Miss Pacific pageant pose on Sydney’s Bondi Beach.

Voodoo #14 (1954) 


Beauty contestants backstage at a pageant sponsored by the Shriners in Harlem, 1951. Photo: Burt Glinn/Magnum Photos.