In France there are two National Pageants: Miss France and Miss National Prestige. And if that wasn't enough, we now have a Miss Black France. So, is positive discrimination really positive ? I'm not so sure !
On April 28th in Paris, were organised the first elections of Miss Black France, by Frédéric Royer. As a model, I sometimes receive e-mails asking me to participate in beauty contests with the following discrimination criteria: the skin color. My Dad being French and my Mom being African, I have always refused to participate in these "all-black" contests. However, when I saw that the Miss Black France phenomenon was growing, it started to tickle my interest.
We already have a Miss France contest (two now). Frédéric Royer answers that it is not representative enough and that his goal through his contest was to celebrate the beauty of black women. Well, I'm very flattered, M. Royer. He also said that "black women don't appear enough on the cover of magazines and in Paris, black models are a lot less employed than in London". Really ?! Indeed, when I read a Vogue magazine, the type of beauty celebrated is occidental, but that doesn't mean I am going to throw myself on the first black magazine to have my dose of blackness !
If Frédéric Royer thinks that Miss France isn't representative enough, let me say that his contest is way less representative. Black people isn't the only minority. There are also Arabs, Asians... But does the fashion industry and the magazines take the time to represent this type of beauty ? I do not think so.
So why would we only have a contest for black women when France is composed of so many people from very different origins (due to its history) ? And if Miss France wasn't representative enough, we wouldn't have elected Sonia Rolland Miss France in 2000, when her mother is from Rwanda. She was the first Miss France from African origins and as such, she perfectly managed to represent France and her african origins. She showed that she could be a french citizen who respects her african origins. Sonia Rolland actually created an association with her mother, Maïsha Africa, which helps orphans from the rwandese genocide and she also helps fighting against AIDS.
|Sonia Rolland, Miss France 2000|
One could argue that we had to wait until 2000 to have a Miss France with african origins, but her election is very significative to me. In order to enforce one's origins, discrimation, doesn't seem to be the solution. Because Mr Royer's contest IS discriminatory. You can call that positive discrimination, but to me it is plain discrimination. It is about putting a minority forward without integrating it into a system that takes into account all the other races.
There is a metissage in France, but the majority of the people is white. Young Mbathio Beye, from Senegal and winner of Miss Black France is beautiful, for sure, but if she one day tries to be employed by a model agency, she will probably struggle because now she is categorised.
|Mbathio Beye, Miss Black France 2012|
I would like to conclude without going too far into the considerations about black people or the political considerations abotu France and its immigrant population. I just want to remind you all that finding the right balance is always better than discriminating.
(translated from French by Absolute B.)