Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Miss Black France

 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.)
Rendez-vous sur Hellocoton !


  1. I agree with you, it's total discrimination. Organising a Miss Black France is like saying that they have to take part in a different contest because they are not beautiful enough to win Miss France beating white contestants. And I have to tell you that I'm always super skeptic about all this racism and discrimination thing (there's such a huge racism paranoia recently and it seems you can't say anything bad about a black person because it would be racist, even if you would say the same thing if they were white), but this is clearly a discrimination. It would be like creating a Women Nobel Prize, because women aren't represented enough in the Nobel Prize winners: that would be sexist, as if women weren't good enough to win the normal Nobel. So it's the same in this case. Plain racism.

    Sara from A Modern-Day Lady

    1. Thanks a lot for giving us your opinion. I am really glad you reacted. I agree with your point of view. The more (positive) discrimination you have the worst it will get because it is an other way to categorize people. I am also glad that you didn't only focus on black people and you expanded it to other people. And I think you are right about this paranoia thing about black people, it does exist, sometimes it seems like you can't say anything against black people because you will be labeled "racist".

      Recently I participated to a debate in which they were the director of CRAN, which is an association which fights for black people in France, and the organizator of Miss France. Both of them found the election of Miss Black France good because they said that black people are not enough represented. The organizator of Miss France said that when they select girls throughout France they never have enough black girls, but I will say that it is the same for girls from other origins...I think the problem lays in the fact that France has to deal with its History especially the history of colonization to be able to surpass such things, but as it is something that involves politics and economics, nobody dares talking about it..

      Thank you again for commenting.



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