Beauty pageants are about more than good looks — they can have a message, too. Stas Shectman and Marina Kamenev report.
Published: August 8, 2008 (Issue # 1397)
The headquarters of Nuclear.ru are located in an uninspiring building near Moscow’s Paveletsky Station. The company is an independent Internet portal providing the latest developments in the field of nuclear energy. But that is not what it is best known for.
Inside the small office sits Yulia Nagayeva, a tall, striking brunette. She is a senior manager for business development at TVEL, a manufacturer of nuclear fuel. She is also Miss Atom, the latest winner of the beauty contest that has been run by Nuclear.ru annually since 2004. Miss Atom is an online contest for women under the age of 35 who work in the nuclear energy industry.
In addition to the country’s oil and mineral wealth, during the past decade Russia has been busy refining another one of its valuable natural resources: beauty. And while there have been no major international wins for Russia since Oksana Fyodorova won Miss Universe in 2002, numerous domestic competitions ensure that some of Russia’s most beautiful girls get to bask in the glow of a spotlight.
“I think it’s every girl’s dream to see how they compare to other women,” Nagayeva said. She had entered the contest twice before she won this year and loves the process of taking part.
“It’s great. We get a stylist who chooses our dresses, a professional hairdresser and a photographer. Then we get photographed in beautiful locations. I really wanted to take part in this,” she said.
“Our country is recognized for the beauty of its women,” said Tatyana Andreyeva, director of Beauty of Russia (Krasa Rossii), one of the longest-running beauty contests in Russia. “I consider ours one of a very few countries, perhaps even the only country, where female beauty is in the blood, where it is a national resource. Because of this, I feel that beauty contests here are very significant. They glorify these national resources.”
“It’s not that Russian women are more beautiful than other women,” said Fyodorova in a telephone interview. “It’s just that Slavic beauty is a universal kind of beauty.”
Ilya Platonov, the director of Nuclear.ru, runs his competition for a rather different reason. “When people think of nuclear energy, they get scared, they think of Chernobyl. We want to show that the people working with and promoting nuclear industry are normal and the fact that the industry is filled with lots of beautiful women.”
On July 25, 63 beauties — as the organizers call them — represented the genetic wealth of cities, villages and regions across Russia and the CIS and strutted their stuff on a custom-built, 500-meter stage on the shore of Lake Onego in Petrozavodsk, Karelia, north of St. Petersburg. This year’s Beauty of Russia pageant was the first to be held outside of Moscow since 1995.Pages:  [2 ]