Commentary

The spotlight on Miss World in film “Misbehaviour”

Winner of Miss World 1970 beauty pageant, Jennifer Hosten of Greneda wears her crown and sits on the winner’s throne at the Royal Albert Hall in London

Who is Jennifer Hosten and when did she win Miss World?
JENNIFER Hosten was the first black woman to win the Miss World contest. But her crowning came amid the greatest controversy in the pageant’s history.

Who is Jennifer Hosten?
Hosten was born on October 31, 1947 in St George’s on the island of Grenada. She studied in London and then worked for the BBC’s Caribbean radio service before becoming a flight attendant.

Later she worked in diplomacy, trade negotiation, international development, business ownership, hospitality and academia. Hosten, now 72, is now a counsellor. She had two children Sophia and Beau, and grandmother to her five grandchildren.

When did she win Miss World?
At 22 years old, she entered the Miss World contest which was held that year in London, UK, after winning Miss Grenada. One hundred million people tuned in around the globe to watch the competition, which is more than watched the moon landing the year before.

Why was her win controversial?
The live broadcast of the contest was disrupted by a flour-bomb protest by the Women’s Liberation Movement.

From the outset the 1970 pageant was roiled in controversy. This is because the pageant officials allowed two women to represent South Africa, one white, the other black – during the time when that nation was still under the apartheid system.

The black South African came second and Hosten won the title of Miss World. The historic win was met with outrage after it was revealed that the president of Grenada, Sir Eric Gairy, was one of the judges.

Some countered that the claims of a fix were motivated by racism. Jennifer insists the show brought her opportunities that she never would have had otherwise.

What is the film Misbehaviour about?
It’s a British comedy, which tells the story of Miss World 1970 that was hosted by comedian Bob Hope and was targeted by the newly formed women’s lib protest.

The militant feminists claimed that beauty competitions demeaned women and achieved overnight fame by invading the stage and disrupting the live broadcast of the competition.

Not only that, when the show resumed, the result caused uproar: the winner was not the Swedish favourite but Miss Grenada aka Jennifer Hosten.

Patrick Knox

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