'I want to be a model': changing attitudes of New Zealand Women to the Miss New Zealand pageant 1960-1999

by Morris, Stephen (Stephen

Abstract (Summary)
The major argument of this thesis revolves around the hypothesis that a shift took place in the attitudes of New Zealand, women to beauty contests, and in particular, to the Miss New Zealand pageant, by the 1990s. The Miss New Zealand title from 1960 was framed in a nationalistic way, with the winner expected to be an ambassador for New Zealand, promoting its tourism and wool products overseas. The thesis explores whether that shift went from wanting to be Miss New Zealand within a structure of nationalism, to wanting to be a full time model and pursue an individual career. The thesis examines that fundamental shift, and investigates if it meant the feminist arguments of the 1970s no longer held up in a post feminist, more conservative 1990s. The findings of this thesis are that the Miss New Zealand contest certainly suffered an almost total demise by 1994; even the franchise owner admitted publicly that if a Miss New Zealand contest did not occur no-one would be too upset. The main reasons for that were most young women preferred model contests, the winners did not succeed at the Miss World or Miss Universe contests, (apart from Lorraine Downes in 1983), television had stopped televising it, the number of women entering the contest dropped so much that some provinces could not supply contestants, and it had become so irrelevant to New Zealand society that feminist protesters practically left it alone in the 1990s. By that time, model contests and the profession of modelling was enjoying a crest of popularity. However, the evidence also indicates that, even from 1960, many Miss New Zealand contestants were models, or had modelling experience prior to entering the pageant, and some of them did want to use the Miss New Zealand contest as a step into the modelling or fashion industry.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Auckland / Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau

School Location:New Zealand

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2001

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