“Beauty Contests Should Challenge Beauty Norms”: LeNoir Unveil Queen Of The Runway

Photo: Yamatoz Lens

Beauty competitions are perhaps not something one usually associates with norm-critiquing work, but on April 7 the competition Queen Of The Runway is taking place in Stockholm. The arrangers call it a ‘pioneering beauty competition’ and the idea is to challenge the prevailing beauty norms. The competition is arranged by the model agency LeNoir, and a contract with them is also up for grabs for the competitors.

“I began my career as a model and quickly noticed that there was no space for models that don’t belong to the norm. And it’s still the same, ten to twelve years on. Not so much has happened”, says Aysha Jones, one of the initiative-takers behind the new competition: “I felt that I needed to do something about this”.

That the competition’s participants ”display how powerfully multicultural a country Sweden is and should continue to be” is one of the the stand-out lines in the press material.
The winner will be chosen by a jury of nine people, including the actor and director David Nzinga, Respect My Hustle’s founder Babak Azarmi, the photographer Saga Berlin and the fashion editor Agnes Braunerhielm.

What are your thoughts about organising what the pressmaterial calls a beauty contest? Even if the focus is on ‘beauty outside of norms’, doesn’t having having the focus on ‘beauty’ contribute to stigmatisation?

“Beauty contests focus on the competitors’ surface, on how ‘beautiful’ they are and how ‘nice a body’ they have. We have given the jury members the directive that these things aren’t important. We’re looking for those who are best on the catwalk. We’re looking for a model who can walk well, which should really be the only requirement models should have”, says Aysha Jones.

The supermodel Naomi Campbell has been acclaimed in her time, and also called, just like the competition, Queen of The Runway

“In reality, she looks different to people’s image of her. Photos of her without make-up and extensions reveal a completely different woman. Our models are instructed in their campaign photos to stay natural, and if they want to have make-up to keep it to a minimum. Even people who don’t fit society’s beauty norms can radiate”.

The LeNoir Queen Of The Runway contest takes place at 1900, Apr 7 at Subtopia.

We’re also running a media partnership with Queen Of The Runway, and we’re delighted to have the chance to give you five pairs of tickets to the gala ceremony on Friday. All you need to do to win is send us a Facebook message with the phrase ‘Queen Of The Runway’. The first five to do win a pair of tickets to the gala.