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Old 12th April 2011   #1
Join Date: July 2005
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Default Alicia Machado

The recent post about Courtney Legare and her appearance on Austin television centred on the case of the Texas beauty queen who gained an imperceptible amount of weight, lost her crown, then sued the pageant and regained her title. In composing this post, it occurred to us that although the name of Alicia Machado (the 1996 Miss Universe who was likewise nearly stripped of her crown because of weight gain) has come up on this forum several times over the years, she has never had a thread solely devoted to her.

She richly deserves one, because if there was ever a case which demonstrated that a fuller-figured ideal of beauty would not only be healthier but also more attractive than today's stick-thin standard, this was it.

The difficult, however, is that very few images exist of Alicia during the period of her reign when she visibly gained weight. By all accounts, the Miss Universe pageant aggressively kept her out of the spotlight while she was curvier, and only broke the story of the supposed "crisis" once she had already diminished in size.

Unlike the case of Miss San Antonio, though, Alicia did actually become fuller figured, and consequently more beautiful. The following numbers are those that are most frequently quoted:

She had gained an estimated 40 pounds and was asked to shed 27 of those pounds or else lose her title as Miss Universe. That sounds like a lot, but she was 5'9" and weighed 118 pounds when she was crowned Miss Universe.

At her fullest, then, Alicia was 158 pounds--which is still very slim for a woman who is 5'9. By comparison, when Crystal Renn was on the entertainment news shows early in her career, at a size 12 or 14, she was always billed as weighing 165 pounds, and she only looked moderately curvy.

However, Crystal was presented as a plus-size model. For the reigning Miss Universe to be only 7 pounds shy of the weight of a plus-size model--even a smaller one--is a truly beautiful circumstance, and is just one step away from an alternative reality in which Classical curvaceousness becomes the cultural ideal of feminine beauty.

At any rate, Alicia's original 118-pound weight was unquestionably dangerously low for her. This picture from May 1996, just after she won the crown, shows her with frighteningly thin arms and a jutting clavicle. Like straight-size models, pageant contestants notoriously starve themselves into an emaciated state for competitions.

What was so wonderful about Alicia, though, is that after she won, she allowed herself to enjoy the banquets that she attended as part of her Miss Universe functions. In the news stories that emerged after her weight gain became a media "event," these state dinners were frequently cited as the cause of her increased curvaceousness.

As noted earlier, very few images exist showing Alicia from the fuller phase of her reign. These were discovered at a Thai forum about pageant winners past and present.

The next set of images, apparently originally published in a Thai magazine in 1996, record one of the very few public appearances that Alicia undertook once she grew curvier. The newfound richness of her facial features is clearly evident.

Click to enlarge

She is thin by plus-size standards, but compare these images to those of any other Miss Universe, and the difference is unmistakable. Among pageant winners, one never finds such attractive weight in the face, or roundness in the arms, as Alicia displays here.

Click to enlarge

The clavicle is now nearly submerged in soft fullness, and she exhibits a more generous voluptuousness than before. By any objective measure, she has grown far more beautiful.

Click to enlarge

The most telling image is the following full-length. Although this dress is mercilessly constrictive around Alicia's midsection, her proportions are undeniably larger and rounder than in the first image in this thread, particularly at the hips.

Click to enlarge

Later images are even harder to come by, but this photograph indicates an alluring fullness in the model's facial features.

Perhaps the sole image that exists anywhere that shows Alicia at her most opulent is the following photograph. A contributor to the Thai pageant forum mentioned that he took this snapshot at a public appearance by Alicia late in 1996. In the poster's words (as translated by Google), Alicia appeared visibly "plump," but had the most wonderful complexion. The fact that she donned a suit for this function is telling, and even the jacket cannot disguise the rounded curvaceousness of her physique--certainly shapelier than that of any other Miss Universe.

Alas, shortly after this, the news about Alicia's weight gain broke, leading to an astonishing media event that included appearances on CNN, Entertainment Tonight, the Montel Williams show, and so forth. But although Alicia did diminish her appearance to some degree--at least enough so that she was never stripped of her crown--she still possessed a touch of a luscious appearance when she turned over the title to the next Miss Universe. The contrast between the two contestants is very telling, entirely to the advantage of Alicia, whose softer, rounder face is infinitely more beautiful than the hard features of the 1997 winner.

In particular, Alicia still displays a sensual curve under her chin. In both of these images, she has not yet placed her tiara on the head of her successor--which is symbolically fitting, for surely between the two standards of beauty (the underweight, modern look and the fleshier, timeless ideal) it is the more well-fed beauty who deserves the crown as the lovelier of the two.

* * *

It didn't last long, but for a little while the world was treated to a Miss Universe who actually deserved her title. The extra fullness that Alicia Machado acquired after winning the crown clearly enhanced her beauty, and showed that, like the fashion industry, the pageant world too could be a venue for positive body image, if only it were to embrace the timeless ideal of full-figured beauty rather than the emaciated standard of modern androgyny.

Furthermore, there is something very endearing about the idea of a young pageant winner who finally felt safe and secure enough--after winning a title that identified her as the most beautiful woman in the world--to put aside her starvation diet, to eat whatever she liked, and to allow her body to blossom into its natural size. Rather than being threatened with the loss of her crown, she should have been applauded and celebrated by the media.

But even if the pageant and the press were against her, society as a whole was not. The public overwhelmingly favoured her fuller look, and to this day, she remains an emblematic example of an alternative ideal of beauty--a healthier, natural, more feminine standard of appearance for women, and one which our culture would do well to embrace.

(Several of the preceding images are clickable.)

HSG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15th April 2011   #2
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Default Re: Alicia Machado

Thank you for unearthing and sharing these lovely images! Anyone would have to agree that Alicia is a thousand times more beautiful when she is fuller-figured. I especially adore the last photo. Alicia looks positively radiant (and so regal), completely outshining the other pageant winner!

In all of these images from Alicia’s curvier days, her facial expressions are appealingly wholesome, and she is the very picture of health and beauty. Rather than adopting the stereotypical “fake beauty queen smile,” Alicia seems to be radiating genuine joy and satisfaction, no doubt due in part to the positive effects of allowing herself to indulge in lavish banquets rather than starving herself.
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Old 12th June 2011   #3
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Default Re: Alicia Machado

I thought of Alicia Machado the other day when a bit of news came up about Miss Australia.

Now, don't get too excited. Miss Australia isn't the least bit curvy, nor is she about to be. But she was asked an interesting question as her final pass/fail query, and she responded just as she should have:

The question:

In front of about 100 people and three judges Miss Nash modelled a yellow cocktail dress, Kooey Swimwear and a floor-length silver evening gown before taking part in the question and answer section.

“It was nerve-racking; we had absolutely no idea what they were going to ask us,” she said.

“They asked me what I think about plus-size models on the runway.

“I agreed that there should be plus-size models because it is very important to display a healthy body image in the modelling industry as many younger girls look up to the ladies on the runway.”

Well said, and very true.

If only more pageant winners themselves looked more like plus-size models - or at least like Alicia Machado in her ever-so-slightly, "scandalously" curvier phase - than like the underweight cadavers they resemble today...
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Old 10th August 2011   #4
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Default Cynthia de la Vega

Well, curve-o-phobia has struck the pageant world once again.

Insanely, a winner in the Miss Mexico pageant was just stripped of her crown for gaining (get this) 6 pounds. Six pounds.

The girl is pencil thin. Painfully so:

Six pounds? You've got to be kidding me. She would have to gain 60 pounds to blossom into a curvaceous goddess. Those 6 pounds could only have improved her looks. If she lost her crown, it should have been for gaining too little, not too much.

The story goes:

Mexico City (CNN) -- A Mexican beauty queen says officials took away her crown after she gained weight, stopping her from competing in this year's Miss World pageant.

"I feel healthy enough to represent my country, and I think this is an injustice," Cynthia de la Vega told CNN en Espanol Wednesday.

But the head of the Nuestra Belleza Mexico beauty contest said that weight had nothing to do with the decision.

"It was a lack of dedication and discipline," Lupita Jones, Mexico's first Miss Universe winner and the national director of Nuestra Belleza Mexico, told reporters Wednesday.

Organizers of the Mexican competition took away de la Vega's crown last month and said she couldn't compete in the November Miss World pageant in London. On Wednesday they announced that Gabriela Palacio, designated as a substitute after the Mexico competition, would take her place.

Nuestra Belleza Mexico's official statement on the move said de la Vega "did not comply with the recommendations and goals agreed upon for her preparation."

De la Vega told CNN en Espanol that she gained weight as the stressful competition neared. But she added that contest officials did not inform her of any specific weight or appearance requirements, or provide the support she needed while training for the competition.

"They took away the crown that I earned. That is mine," she said.

Note how, in these cases, they always blame other vague factors, like "dedication" and "goals." They're ashamed to speak the truth: "We're a bunch of weight bigots who think grotesque emaciation and anorexia is the standard that we should be promoting."

If anything, the pageant should be thanking Miss de la Vega for gaining the weight and thus making herself more attractive and likelier to win Miss World.
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