|Bikini models pose with dairy cows during the Miss Dairy Cow Pageant on August 18, 2012 in Shuozhou, Shanxi Province.
For years China has been known for its generous deployment of bikini models to spice up industry conferences and meetings. But news that scantily clad models were recently recruited to enliven the country’s first “dairy cow beauty pageant” is being described some as utterly — or should that be udderly? — ridiculous.
Designed to promote the dairy indus try of Shanyin County in the central Chinese province of Shanxi, the weekend contest pitted more than 200 cows against each other based on looks, milk and pedigree.
The concept is a strange one even for a country with more than its fair share of mystifying events. But it’s the eight bikini models hired for the bovine pageant – and made to pose awkwardly next to, and even milk, the cows – that has churned the controversy.
Photos of the girls — all of them, perhaps understandably, wearing masks — spread around traditional and social media websites on Monday, and even earned an editorial on the website of the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily.
While noting that the popularity of beauty contests has been rising (China’s Yu Wenxia won the Miss World pageant over the weekend), the editorial argues that in this case things seem to have gone a bit too far. “Beautiful girls have far greater ability to attract attention that the milk cow contestants,” it reads. “How do you think that makes the cows feel?”
The editorial also calls attention to one model who said given the natural setting of the dairy farm, posing in a bikini felt “harmonious.”
The article allows the girl might simply have been embarrassed and making excuses, but reserves little sympathy for the organizer of the conference, who it sarcastically declares must have a peculiar understanding of what adds excitement to an event.
On Sina Corp.’s popular Weibo microblogging service, most users milked the ample potential to make puns about the contest, but a few were more critical of the proceedings. “Shanxi’s ‘cow models” — an inconceivable objectification of women,”wrote one user posting under the screen name Ariel_Meow.
Organizers of some Chinese promotional events have recently tried to move away from reliance on bikini girls — in one case replacing them with cross-dressing men. But given the success Shanyin had in drawing attention to its dairy industry over the weekend, China likely hasn’t seen the last of the cow belles.
– Paul Mozur
SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal, 8/20/2012