Miss Plus World Malaysia uncertain after sponsors bail under religious uproar

Contestants for Miss Plus World Malaysia 2021. Photo: Miss Plus World Malaysia/Facebook
Contestants for Miss Plus World Malaysia 2021. Photo: Miss Plus World Malaysia/Facebook

A pageant for plus-size women said it faces an uncertain future today after it was condemned by local religious bodies including the Islamic Da’wah Foundation and Islamic political party PAS.

Earlier this week, the Islamic Da’wah Foundation and PAS publicly condemned Miss Plus World Malaysia, saying the pageant “objectifies women” and calling for it to be canceled.

“If this event is allowed to proceed, it would mean we condone Malaysian women being objectified on stage,” PAS representative Nuridah Mohd Salleh said yesterday.

On Saturday, Nasrudin Hassan from the Islamic Da’wah Foundation said it would send an official memo urging the government to ban the pageant’s gala night as it was “against Islamic principles.”

Miss Plus World Malaysia may be unable to go forward with its virtual gala night in early January anyway, because the comments and threats made by the orthodox religious bodies is causing financial stress.

“As of today, three sponsors have pulled out,” pageant owner Ziinine A. Britshi told Coconuts KL by phone today. 

“This is our biggest problem now, financially,” he added. “We are losing a lot of money. VIPs have also canceled their attendance to our event due to the current situation with religious authorities.” 

The gala night was set for Jan. 2 at the Sunway Putra Hotel. Virtual guests were to tune in to an exclusive live-stream of the event for RM15 (US$3.70).

Britshi did not disclose which sponsors had pulled out, but the pageant’s site only lists one sponsor at present, U.S. fashion label Sophisticated Curves.

While he awaits notice from the authorities on whether the pageant must be called off, Britshi wants to assure the Islamic bodies that the pageant is “clean.”

“This pageant is very clean. There is no bikini stage, no nudity, and no sexuality,” he said. “Miss Plus World celebrates the beauty of the mind and soul. It’s about leadership and intelligence. Most of our contestants are respected in their fields, as lecturers, doctors, and lawyers.”

This was to be the first Miss Plus World contest held in Malaysia. The winner will travel the United States to compete with other finalists for the crown.

Contestants must be at least size 12, “born female” and between 20 and 35, according to its site

For decades, any Malaysian woman could join pageants such as Miss World and Miss Universe. 

That was until 2013, when the National Fatwa (Religious) Council issued a rule prohibiting Muslim women from joining international beauty pageants. While non-muslims may still enter, Muslim citizens are limited to smaller-scale events such as the national Teen Goddess pageant, that does not involve a swimsuit display.

Past winners of Miss Universe Malaysia have included Azizah Yahya of Kelantan state in 1964 and Yasmin Yusoff of Pahang state in 1978.

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