Uganda’s new tourism campaign ‘Miss Curvy Uganda’ at stake

Uganda’s new beauty pageant ‘Miss Curvy Uganda’ has been creating mixed responses in the social media. The pageant was unveiled in Kampala on Tuesday by the State Minister for Tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda, as part of tourism promotion.

Tourism Minister launches the pageant

While announcing the event in Kampala, the tourism minister said, a beauty pageant ‘Miss Curvy Uganda’ has been launched to select sexy curvaceous women and the finalists will be selected in June.

“We have naturally endowed nice looking women that are amazing to look at. Why don’t we use these people as a strategy to promote our tourism industry?” Kiwanda wondered, pointing at “a sample” of beautiful women at the press conference.

Women and human right activists have been storming the social media against the campaign, stating it is defaming womanhood and treating them as mere products.

Musiima Rhoda Greyson, Women Activist and blogger wrote in her twitter handle, “If the #MissCurvyUganda is not redefined, we are going to see more of these sexist headlines.”

Mrs 007@kakatshozi_ wrote, “In Uganda, curvy women are now tourist ‘products’ as if zoo animals. On a scale of 1-10, how stupid is your tourism minister? ????”

@KiwandaSsuubi said stop dehumanizing women – “This country is blessed with beautiful things for tourism. Curvy women is not the right thing to market the country. Women should be protected and given love.”

In the mean time, Twitter has been filled with pictures of women with curves, mocking the contest.

BryanDanLutu@DanLutu posted a picture with comment, “If this babe doesn’t win the competition Hon. Min. Kiwanda please resign”

However, the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museven, supported the event saying if ‘Beauty Queen’ is appreciated why not the ‘Curvaceous’. He was replying to questions by the media, while attending a function.

“If you say you can compete for beauty, it becomes an issue globally. If ‘nalulungi’ (beauty queen) is going to be appreciated why not ‘nabitege’ (the curvaceous). The ones I saw talking in their shallow ways. You say that nalulungi is alright but nabitege is not alright. I suspect these people when they saw nalulungi being appreciated, even me I received her – the whole world, they developed the concept. These people are not serious, they are shouting waaaah waaaah. Why didn’t you comment about nalulungi?” said Museveni.

Meanwhile, Kenyan media personality Grace S Msalame issued a statement through her twitter handle stating that the image used for the campaign belongs to her and it is used without her permission.

Miss Curvy Poster with Grace Msalame

“I take great exception to the fact that my image and likeness are being used to propagate, disseminate and encourage the objectification of women’s bodies. I do not endorse or agree with such a message,” her statement reads.

Salame says she is currently pursuing legal action and remedies against Miss Curvy Uganda contest.

“Miss Curvy Uganda’s deliberate and calculated use of my image and likeliness to promote and encourage violation of women’s bodies has defamed my character and reputation, damaged a brand I have worked for many years to establish, and subjected me to unwarranted and undeserved cyber bullying,” reads the statement.

Grace Msalame

In another development, a petition has been filed in the by a Ugandan woman, Primrose Murungi.

“I personally feel attacked. This is degrading of women. In a country where women are grabbed by men while walking on the streets and now they have legalized it by making them tourist attractions is not fair. They are objectifying us and reducing women to nothing. Please sign this petition for ministry of tourism to take down the miss curvy challenge and offer an apology to the public as well,” the petition reads.