A Guide To The 4 Major International Beauty Pageants

Everything you need to know about Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss International, and Miss Earth.
PHOTO: (KYLIE) Instagram/kylieverzosa, (PIA) Instagam/piawurtzbach

We can’t even begin to describe how passionate Filipinos are about pageantry—especially because of Pia Wurtzbach’s Miss Universe win last year. But for all of those who aren’t diehard fans (yet), here’s what you need to know about the most coveted crowns out there.

Miss World

Miss World is the oldest of the biggest international beauty pageants. It was created by Eric Morley in 1951. Originally, he just organized a bikini contest for the Festival of Britain, but the media quickly dubbed it "Miss World." The reason behind Eric’s decision to throw a swimsuit competition was because bikinis had only been recently introduced, and people thought it was too risqué. In the 1980s, however, Miss World rebranded itself with the slogan "Beauty With A Purpose." Since then, women have had to go through intelligence and personality tests. From 1992 to 2010, Miss World was franchised by Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. but Eric Morley’s wife, Julia Morley, decided to host a separate Miss World contest and partnered up with Cory Quirino from 2011 to 2016 "so they can focus on their socio-civic projects and raise more funds for poor beneficiaries in the Philippines." Arnold Vegafria acquired the franchise this year.


According to the Miss World website, to win the competition, you must score the highest points in the five "challenge events" that take place before the final: Beauty with a Purpose, Multimedia, Sports, Talent, and Top Model.


Miss Universe

Miss Universe, founded in 1952 by clothing company Pacific Mills, has to be the most glamorous and definitely most popular international beauty pageant. It was held in the U.S. until the '70s, when satellite developments were promising; it allowed the competition to finally travel abroad. Miss Universe focuses on humanitarian efforts, and is currently headed by the Miss Universe Organization, William Morris Endeavor, and the Integrated Management Group (IMG). For a chance to compete, contests have to win their respective national pageants—in our case, Binibining Pilipinas.

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Contestants have to be at least 18 years old and not older than 28. They can’t be married or pregnant. Additionally, "they must not have ever been married, not had a marriage annulled nor given birth to, or parented a child." And they can’t get married throughout their reign. Though it differs every year, Miss Universe usually has around 80 to 100 candidates. If you’re wondering how pageant sites are chosen, the Miss Universe Organization works with private companies, as well as with foreign government officials to find the perfect "host" site for each production.


Miss International

Miss International was started by the International Cultural Association (ICA) in 1960. The pageant is all about "nurturing a nature and peace-loving soul, above language and race differences, through the loving and goodness of women." It was initially held in Long Beach, California after the Miss Universe pageant moved to Florida, but it is now permanently held in Japan. Miss International winners are called "Miss International Beauty" and are expected to be "Ambassadors of Peace and Beauty." Apart from promoting friendship, benevolence, and intelligence, Miss International winners are supposed to be very diplomatic, showing "great international sensibility." Like in the Miss Universe pageant, the Miss International candidate is chosen during Binibining Pilipinas


Miss International 2016 Kylie Verzosa said, "Miss International is a different pageant because you get to know the girls more. They (judges and organizers) get to talk to the girls, know the girls on a personal level. They base it on how the girls work backstage and their personality."


Miss Earth

In 2001, Carousel Productions, Inc. founded the Miss Earth beauty pageant. Obviously, it’s the youngest of the four major beauty pageants. Its focus is to uphold the beauty and preservation of the environment. The winner of Miss Earth "will serve as the ambassador to environmental protection campaigns worldwide." They go on school tours, tree planting events, coastal cleanups, eco-fashion shows, and more; the first eco-fashion show competition was launched by the Miss Earth Foundation in 2008. The winner of the pageant is given the Miss Earth title, while her runners-up are titled after the elements: Miss Fire, Miss Water, and Miss Air.

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Like Miss Universe candidates, you can only qualify as a Miss Earth delegate if you’ve never been married and if you’ve never given birth. You can be as young as 18 years old, but you can’t be over 26. 5'5" is the minimum height requirement. And you must be in "excellent physical condition."

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