Campaigners in Uganda have lost a challenge over a government’s campaign to use curvy women to attract tourists to the country.
Nasasi Belinda, a Ugandan businesswoman, on Friday, won the east African country’s first-ever “Miss Curvy” beauty pageant that was recently introduced to not only champion the beauty of curvaceous women but also bring in tourists.
“I am going to be an inspiration,” said Belinda who beat 24 other finalists for the title in Kampala late Friday.
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“Being plus-size is not a problem.
“So be happy about yourself and make sure you don’t quit. Just keep going,” she was quoted by the AFP.
The well-endowed beauty took home a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a scholarship at Victoria University for any Masters, Bachelors, and Diploma programmes, according to Edge.
As African countries seek ways to transform their tourism industries, Uganda came up with a new strategy this year – to add curvy and sexy Ugandan women to its list of tourist attractions.
“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?” the State Minister for Tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda said while launching the beauty pageant this February.
The tourism sector in Uganda, which has largely been focused on landscape and wildlife, has contributed immensely to the country’s foreign exchange earnings and investment.
According to statistics, the sector contributed $1.88 billion as of August 2013 to Uganda’s GDP.
In an effort to attract more tourists and increase revenue, the East African country believes that a pageant with plus-size women was the answer.
“Miss Curvy is an event that will bring out the endowment of the real African woman. It is an exceptional event that will see young ladies showcase their beautiful curves and intellect,” said Ann Mungoma, the lead organiser for the beauty pageant.
The new initiative, however, attracted mixed reactions, considering Uganda’s strong stance on nudity and sexuality, especially in open space.
A Ugandan woman who started a petition to have the pageant cancelled said the contest is demeaning to women as it objectifies them and “reduces them to nothing.”
“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,” Primrose Murungi’s petition read.
Meanwhile, the tourism minister stressed that the pageant is just another campaign aimed at appreciating beauty in diversity, as the country had long appreciated slim women and seen that as a sign of beauty.
As part of the campaign, the ministry said it will also highlight the background stories of the curvaceous women, as well as, the various cultures that the contestants will display.
Only women aged 18 and below 35 were eligible to participate, the organisers said.