Historians disagree on the origins of beauty pageants. Some believe that the Judgment of Paris is the first beauty contest in history, while for others, the book of Esther in the Bible marks its inception.
During the Middle Ages, we discover the existence of beauty contests within festivals, but very far from the contests that we know today. It was mainly contests to designate the queen of the carnival (without real criteria of beauty) but also some local contests.
It was mainly contests to designate the queen of the carnival (without real criteria of beauty) but also some local contests. It took until the 1830s for beauty contests to come back into the limelight and gain momentum.
An American entrepreneur, Phineas Taylor Barnum, had been organizing very successful competitions for horses, birds, dogs, cows and even babies across the country for years. For him, the beauty of women was a huge potential to be exploited in his traveling shows. He then tried to launch a competition which was canceled in the face of the popular revolt, which found his idea indecent. He then replaced the young women with freaks of fairs like Siamese twins to tour the United States, but did not forget his idea of a competition…
Modern pageantry was finally born.