Shorter women to reach new heights in pageant for petites

Laurie Wiedenhoff

The first-ever Ms. Petite Iowa Pageant will be held in Cedar Rapids May 21-23.

Pageant coordinator Carla Jean Beaurline said 80 to 90 percent of regular pageant winners are 5 feet 8 inches or taller, but 65 percent of women in the Midwest are shorter than 5 feet 6 inches.

“It used to be they would put women on the stage like a cattle contest,” Beaurline said. “Now we want someone to represent the women in the state and not sound like a bimbo.”

The Ms. Petite Pageant was started in 1990 by two women in Houston who thought tall women had an advantage in the Ms. America Pageant.

“Just like any sport or hobby there is discrimination [in pageants],” Beaurline said.

Since its start, the pageant has spread to every state, and state winners compete at the Ms. Petite International Pageant.

Mary Lynn Damhorst, professor of textiles and clothing at Iowa State, said the fashion industry is changing its views about how women should look.

“Diversely sized models during the ’90s are becoming more hirable, as more companies are attending to diverse sizes,” she said.

Students at ISU have mixed thoughts on the concept of petite beauty pageants.

Emelie Jurgens, freshman in linguistics, said she thinks it is fair to hold a pageant for smaller women.

“You never see short people in regular Ms. America Pageants; it’s always tall, long-legged women,” she said.

Sara Vaughn, junior in psychology, called the concept of the pageant “silly.”

“There shouldn’t have to be a separate pageant for short women; it’s height discrimination,” she said.

To be eligible for the pageant, women must be between the ages of 19 and 29, can be single or married and must be no taller than 5 feet 6 inches.

For registration information, contact the state pageant headquarters at (612) 938-6815.