She pounded the alarm in the name of women’s empowerment en route to victory at Eurovision 2018. And now Netta Barzilai has proven, yet again, that she isn’t anyone’s “Toy.”
As the Jerusalem Post reports, the Eurovision winner turned down the chance to perform at the Miss Universe pageant, which reaches its grand conclusion on Sunday, December 12 in Israel’s Port of Eilat.
“Even though I see a lot of beauty in it, I still cannot see myself standing on a stage where women are judged by appearance, body size, height, and weight,” she said.
“Although updates have been made in accordance with the times, I still think beauty pageants are a harsh concept. They are outdated and diminishing. It’s time to move on.”
The Miss Universe pageant — previously owned by Donald Trump — is considered one of the most prestigious events on the international pageant circuit. It makes up the Big Four alongside Miss World, Miss Earth and Miss International.
The pagent has an estimated audience of over 500 million viewers in over 190 territories.
Netta declined, but others have embraced the opportunity. Producers have secured performances from JoJo — who topped the Billboard Pop songs chart with “Leave (Get Out)” when she was just 13 years old. She’s gone on to sell millions of records worldwide.
Israeli star Noa Kirel, who won the MTV Europe Music Award for best Israeli act between 2017 and 2020, will also perform, as will Eurovision 2010 singer Harel Skaat.
The pageant has helped countless hitmakers take their songs global. Lady Gaga performed “Just Dance” for the very first time during the swimsuit competition at the Miss Universe 2008 competition in Vietnam, just three months after dropping the music video. You can watch it above.
Netta has faced criticism from some Israeli personalities.
TV presenter Judy Shalom Nir Mozes said: “This is a competition that is good for the Israeli economy. We are constantly making headlines in the world for negative reasons, and here is a good reason to show our other side to the world.”
This year’s pageant is being executive produced by the iconic Tali Eshkoli, who also produced Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv.
Proponents of Miss Universe have pointed out that the pageant is not just about beauty.
During the preliminary competition on Friday, the 80 participating contestants highlighted their various work championing initiatives that support young women and girls, and the many struggles they have overcome, from domestic violence and poverty to cyberbullying and forced migration.
This year Miss Thailand, who has described herself as “plus-size”, has said she hopes to use her participation to expand notions of beauty for women around the world.
Coincidentally, producers behind the Miss Grand International pageant used a remix of “Toy” for the swimsuit segment of their pageant last week.