I grew up in the seventies, when women liberation was in full swing, and women were exerting their rights to be treated as equals, not just “pretty young things”
I learned, and I believe, that women are equal/ better/worse ( in some cases) than men, and that all people should be valued for what is inside their head, not for the face that is on their head.
Then I got into model photography where the looks of the lady was very important. I also learned that just having looks was enough to be a great model, and that a great make-up
artist is sometimes more valuable ( to a photographer) then the model themselves. ( I was lucky to have been taught about make-up by some of the best….)
Fast forward to my life in Ecuador. It is a different culture.
I was talking with my friend Daniel about his photo business and he said that he was getting a lot of “Queens” (reinas) in for photo sessions.
I asked him what a Queen was?. ( In Toronto a Queen has a completely different meaning… guys dressed as ladies….not something I had seen in Loja… )
A Queen is a winner of an election to be crowned Miss or Reina of something or other. Basically beauty pageants…. and the Ladies take the contests very very seriously.
I have been to three so far and they follow a similar pattern.
- They Start late ( this is Ecuador)
- There is usually a dance group as warm up.
- Then the contestants appear on stage in sexy clothes ( swimwear, or shorts)*
They do a dance routine and then they introduce themselves individually.
- Then there is a performer ( heart throb male… the audience is largely female)
- After this the contestants reappear in gowns…. and the gowns are amazing… and it is standard to be wearing 3 inch heels…with some wearing higher
- Then they do the sub categories ( most photogenic, most hits on facebook…etc)
- Finally the final 5…
- And then the ONE
*The Contest in Zamora was a bit different. Since the representative of the city can come from different Indigenous cultures the clothing for some was not very revealing and frankly, was more interesting and tantalizing.
What I was amazed about is the audience. This is a real contest, with each lady having her group of supporters. They have signs, whistles, noisemakers and they throw all kinds of confetti and sparkles as the contestants walk down the cat walk.
From a photographer point of view, I really like these events. I have created some great photos. As a Canadian Man I have trouble with the message this is sending..but this is not my country or my culture.
Images from the Event ( Facebook)