ECONOMIST (Italy) Mario Monti’s austerity Drive !!!

Mamma mia! Bikinis out, grandma’s bathers in

August 15, 2012 – 4:54PM
Back to the 50s ... the one-piece is back for Miss Italia contestants.Back to the 50s … the one-piece is back for Miss Italia contestants. Photo: Getty Images

It is one of the country’s most celebrated institutions and has often been at the centre of controversy, but now the Miss Italia beauty contest is raising eyebrows again by banning bikinis in favour of modest attire.

Only black and white one-piece bathing suits will be allowed in the swimwear section of next month’s contest in an attempt to recreate the more restrained style of the post-war era. Tattoos and body piercings will also be banned, as will any contestants who have had cosmetic surgery.

Can you imagine these little darlings dressed in clothes their grandmothers would have worn?

Patrizia Mirigliani, the pageant organiser, said she wanted to return the style of the competition to the “classical beauty of the 1950s” and that banning bikinis would “add a sober element”. She added: “The competition has always been a showcase for feminine beauty and as a result this year more than ever it was decided there would be no bikini section.”

Miss Italia is a national institution, with heats held throughout the country in the run-up to the main pageant, which is broadcast live over two nights in early September, with each show lasting three hours. A total of 230 women will take part, before being whittled down for the final in the Tuscan spa town of Montecatini Terme.

Each year there is a special guest, with the actors Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Andy Garcia being among the past members of the jury panel. Before this year’s show, contestants will meet Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter, which will help them to learn about the “concept of interior, as well as exterior” beauty, Miss Mirigliani said.

Not everyone is happy with the contest’s new rules. Il Giornale, a newspaper owned by the family of the former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, said the new regulations were inspired by the austerity campaign of the current Italian prime minister Mario Monti.

“Can you imagine these little darlings dressed in clothes their grandmothers would have worn?” its report on the changes said.

“Surely the point of Miss Italia is that it is a beauty contest. The idea being to pick a beautiful Italian with the best legs, the sexiest curves and the perfect figure. If we are to cover the bottom, the object of male dreams, with centimetres of cloth what sense does the competition have?”

Fabrizo Frizzi, the host of the show, said: “Patrizia made her decision after some hints from minister [Elsa] Fornero over the standards that RAI [the broadcaster] have to keep. But this is a beauty contest and the physical figure of the contestants has to be uppermost. I think it is an elegant solution.”

The Telegraph, London

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