Miss Universe 2011

Miss Universe! Yes, it’s that time again, when hopeful young ladies gather from all around the world to grin their beautiful hostage grins into the camera, and to be dressed like fools in “National Dress” by horrible pageant planners secretly trying to test what young ladies are willing to wear on camera.

That answer came back: Practically anything.

I have tried to look at this and understand what happened. In the past, this category has been spectacularly awesome (Thailand!) or hilariously fun (the national costume of Iceland is dignity!). This year is what I can only term a Hot Mess, with Intermittent Laughter.

This year also seems to be the year that the always-fantastical undercurrent of this whole glittery mess went from subtext to text:

Tanzania, auditioning for a role in the inevitable Metropolis remake, and/or putting mortal fear into her enemy contestants. Either way, SUCCESS.

However, she had some serious competition in the Science Fiction and Fantasy category.

Under this cut, a bajillion pictures.

Puerto Rico, wearing an amazing dragon hat, which is something I don’t get to say often!

Angola IS Finding Nemo!

Venezuela, extrapolating what Danerys is going to look like by the end of the books.

Guam went Full Mermaid and I love it.

Interplanetary ambassador the Czech Republic.

Romania IS slightly embarrassed to be wearing a Dracula cape!

Some contestants tried to keep things grounded with more traditional National Dress, with varying degrees of success.

Singapore, looking lovely.


Guatemala, who had it all going for her until she put the hat on.

Georgia, not realizing how out of her league she was going to be in the Big Skirt category this year.

Egypt. Love it.

China. Love it.

Japan. Love it.

South Africa. Love it.

USA, understated as usual.

Kazakhstan, working it.




Sri Lanka, looking just as smug as I would be if my outfit was way more comfortable than everyone else’s.

Albania, ditto.

Denmark, in a lovely costume…

That Great Britain maybe should have considered.

France, out of nowhere with an amazing getup!

But the Netherlands is wearing a boat hat. GAME OVER.

Then we start sliding a little downhill.

Canada, which. Huh.

Mexico. “So, is there a LIMIT to what I can wear or carry? Are you sure? Great!”


Vaguely Feathery Interpretations:

The Cayman Islands get it right: wild and huge, but well-designed.

See also: Panama, Paraguay.

Meanwhile, someone hates Curacao so, so much.

And a brief craft tutorial: How To Wear Dangle Things From Your Arm Region.

Do: Ecuador, with style, proportion, and attitude.

Don’t: Ireland, peer pressured into stapling some CDs to her gauntlets five minutes before showtime.

You might think Ireland had something to be ashamed of, but let me assure you, this year’s crop of costumes gave her a run for her money. For some reason, there is a large Miss Universe contingent that forgets, every year, that this contest is coming up, and they make their costumes the night before. This year it was elevated to an art form of sucking, to the point that many of them walked the entire stage with an earnest expression of “What the Fuck, Seriously.”

So, let’s examine this, the best of categories.

British Virgin Islands, who can’t even.


Turks and Caicos.

Ukraine. (I laughed out loud.)

The Dominican Republic.


Spain. What?

Italy. WHAT?

Hungary. You cannot start the night before, this is what happens.


Honduras, who is not even pretending to care.

New Zealand, winner of Best Hostage Face.

Russia, who was hoping no one would notice she forgot her dress as long as she really worked the textiles.

Serbia, the last-minute-applique wonder of the world.

Kosovo, in a moment of awkward self-awareness.

U.S. Virgin Islands thinks that exactly 0% of this is funny.

Sweden. You know your costume’s a mess when the weird part of the outfit is the hat.

Australia, having learned literally nothing since last year.

Korea, who must be kidding me.

And El Salvador, the most magnificent bitchface of them all.

For the technical winner, I think you have to watch the pageant on TV tonight. But let’s face it, the real winner tonight?

Iceland, who had so much dignity her costume isn’t even here. WINNAH, AND STILL CHAMPYEN.

For the rest of the costumed carnage, you can check out the full list here, or head straight to the Trump-stamped source at MissUniverse.com.

Recent Work

TV Recaps: Elementary, Season 5

TV Recaps: Victoria, Season 1

TV Recaps: Reign, Season 4

TV Recap: Bates Motel, "Hidden"

Fiction: "Everyone from Themis Sends Letters Home", Clarkesworld

Film: How many movies about grief this year? All of them, Legacy.com

Book Review: HIGH NOON: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic, NPR.org

Book Review: How to Read a Dress, NPR.org

Nonfiction: A Doom of One's Own, Clarkesworld

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  • Whether you will, or no

    I wrote a piece for VICE about consent as fantasy element in the 18th-century “Beauty and the Beast,” and a little about what happens to the shape of the tale when a retelling (say, I dunno, Disney) alters those elements: “How Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Became the Darkest Tale of All.“

    An excerpt:

    The most powerful force in Beauty and the Beast isn’t magic, or even love, but consent. Most retellings of Villeneuve’s version are careful to keep it. The Beast is clear that Beauty must know what she’s getting into. (In Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch’s 1910 version, it’s still more explicit: The Beast warns Beauty’s father to “be honest with your daughter. Describe me to her just as I am. Let her be free to choose whether she will come or no…”) Later, the Beast asks Beauty herself if she comes willingly. And that first dinner is marked by the Beast’s deference to her wishes. Beauty’s earliest surprise is how much power she wields. Even in his nightly request that Beauty marry him, he defers. Andrew Lang emphasized the power dynamics in 1889’s Blue Fairy Book:

    “Oh! What shall I say?” cried Beauty, for she was afraid to make the Beast angry by refusing.
    “Say 'yes’ or 'no’ without fear,” he replied.
    “Oh! No, Beast,” said Beauty hastily
    “Since you will not, good-night, Beauty,” he said.
    And she answered, “Good-night, Beast,” very glad to find that her refusal had not provoked him.

    Lang was one of many who used marriage proposals for the nightly request (Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s 1756 retelling was the first), but Villeneuve was under no illusions about the story’s undertones. In her original, Beast asks Beauty to sleep with him. Beauty’s power is the ability to withhold sexual consent.

    [Full article]


2016 Appearances

Emerald City Comicon
April 7-10, 2016
Seattle, WA

Kent State Wonder Woman Symposium
September 23-24, 2016
Cleveland, OH

New York Comic Con
October 5-9, 2016
New York City

World Fantasy Convention
October 28-30
Columbus, OH