Nigerian Beauty Pageants on BBC Radio 4

Beauty pageants have become highly popular spectacles in Nigeria, and their crowned winners venerated individuals.

Talking about her research on one Nigerian pageant, the Carnival Calabar Queen, Dr Juliet Gilbert discussed how the Miss World formula of ‘beauty with a purpose’ takes on a different meaning and importance within Nigeria's highly conservative and patriarchal Christian south. Pageantry has becomes a means for single young women, one of the most marginalised groups in Nigerian society, to gain respect and authority through their demonstration of locally informed understandings of beauty that combine outward grace and glamour with inner piety and compassion. While pageantry is said to open up many doors to young women, it is a form of empowerment that is recognised not to overturn patriarchy but merely reconfigure young women’s standing within it.