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 They are outdated and diminishing.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. 

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Im so fab
Im so fab
5 months ago

Alright, I never supported Netta’s victory. But big kudos to her.
Those shallow and unhealthy contests must come to an end.

Jimmy
Jimmy
5 months ago

I’m slightly surprised by this, I would have thought Netta would celebrate women in whatever they wish to pursue. It seems slightly tone deaf that she didn’t take the opportunity to participate and help update a platform she thinks could be more inclusive. It’s pretty clear that these kinds of pageants are as much about ‘conduct’ and ‘soft skills’ as they are about ‘beauty’ and ‘presentation’. It’s wonderful that Netta feels so empowered in her own choices but she doesn’t have to slam these kinds of events as diminishing for the women who choose to pursue them, when it’s clear… Read more »

tylos
tylos
5 months ago

Miss *Universe* and they’re all from Earth.
What a joke!

James
James
5 months ago
Reply to  tylos

Because Miss Earth Was already taken.

Jimmy
Jimmy
5 months ago
Reply to  tylos

Why do you think SETI was founded?

Emma
Emma
5 months ago
Reply to  tylos

well they are the only humans in universe so makes kind of sense i guess

West
West
5 months ago

You can think whatever you want about such competitions – I am impressed by Netta sticking to her beliefs and principles and not diminishing them just to maybe boost her popularity by performing on this “prestigious event”.

Pastora Soler
Pastora Soler
5 months ago

This “beauty” (or surgery…) contest is just ridiculous. I wouldn’t act, and not for a “feminism war”, just because I wouldn’t feel comfortable there.

Mariah
Mariah
5 months ago

ok, like anyone cares about this washed out star and her opinions.

Ana
Ana
5 months ago
Reply to  Mariah

You care enough to enter the article and leave a comment.

DDD
DDD
5 months ago

She can think whatever she wants, but wanting an event that many women love and aspire to compete in to go away is not the feminist statement she, or anyone else, thinks it is. Miss Universe is a competition run by and for women, but feminism is not about women fitting the standard we want them to fit, it’s about giving all women the choice to do whatever they want, and if that choice is to become a pageant queen, all feminists should support them in deciding that.

Whisker
Whisker
5 months ago
Reply to  DDD

That’s right!

Addie
Addie
5 months ago
Reply to  DDD

Wow, I didn’t know how to interpret this article, but I find your perspective very close to mine.

Ana
Ana
5 months ago
Reply to  DDD

Well she didn’t exactly went to the venue and burned the place down, she just refused to be part of it. Besides, she is right, it is a very dated and useless concept.

Last edited 5 months ago by Ana
Azaad
Azaad
5 months ago

Netta became famous due to a song that criticised men for treating women like toys, which is arguably what this show is doing. Winner or not, out of all of Israel’s ESC entrants she should’ve been the last person asked. Kudos to her for sticking to her principles.

Whisker
Whisker
5 months ago
Reply to  Azaad

That’s what this show is doing? Ridiculous. It also happens that a man can be a woman’s toy.

Andrea
Andrea
5 months ago

This is a men’s world, sadly, and it’s still really hard to change that. But on the other hand, Netta’s not a feminist – she’s a misandrist, and her opinion comes from hatred, so I’d rather not take her seriously at all.

trollo
trollo
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrea

blah ‘men’s world’ blah… here we go again! 😀

Whisker
Whisker
5 months ago
Reply to  trollo

It’s not even that. It’s a RICH men’s world.

Ferdie
Ferdie
5 months ago

On the other hand, Rebeka Dremelj who represented Slovenia in 2008 was Miss Slovenia

trollo
trollo
5 months ago
Reply to  Ferdie

#Justice4Rebeka

Addie
Addie
5 months ago
Reply to  Ferdie

Oh really??

Jo.
Jo.
5 months ago

notice how beauty contests are becoming increasingly popular in southeast asia and latin america, these shows ain’t going away anytime soon…

Last edited 5 months ago by Jo.
Dave
Dave
5 months ago
Reply to  Jo.

It was popular in the Philippines and LatAm before. But other SEA countries joined in LOL

Sam
Sam
5 months ago

Anyone in the comments trying to convince themselves that it’s ‘not all about appearance’ – you’re deluded. Until they allow actual plus-size contestants or for the women to cover up if they wish, it’s ALL about appearance.

Kraj
Kraj
5 months ago
Reply to  Sam

Kudos to Netta for telling the pageant, she’s not their toy!

James
James
5 months ago
Reply to  Sam

They’ve just recently allowed transgender contestants to compete so having plus-sized beauty queens may happen very soon. 🙂

Whisker
Whisker
5 months ago
Reply to  Sam

They do allow them to cover up. Bahrain participated for the first time this year, the contestant was covered up for the swimsuit competition. Bangladesh participated for the first time in 2019 and covered up her legs – this goes more to say about women from conservative countries participating, but that’s a way more advanced of a topic. MU Thailand 2021 is her real size and she looks healthy, strong, and gorgeous, and she’s very intelligent too. She has a campaign called “real size beauty”.

Azaad
Azaad
5 months ago
Reply to  Whisker

The point still being, the contestants are still judged on appearance. Yes, they can dress modestly if they wish to, which is lovely because what a woman wears should be her choice, but whether in a Burkini or bikini it’s still a beauty competition.

A pageant like Miss America is more holistic because of things like the talent portion.

Whisker
Whisker
5 months ago
Reply to  Azaad

It’s their God given right to be judged on their looks.

Dave
Dave
5 months ago
Reply to  Whisker

Sierra Bearchell also

Polegend Godgarina
5 months ago
Reply to  Sam

appearance still plays its role in the result along with other things, so your wish won’t be granted i fear !

DDD
DDD
5 months ago
Reply to  Sam

They allow BOTH. Oh my god so many people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

Alex
Alex
5 months ago

can’t believe we still have beauty pageants in freaking 2021…ofc the mainstream ones are for women and not men. No one really cares about beauty pageants anymore, anyone can be a beauty queen on Instagram so it’s kinda pointless.

Netta has some really good points.

Shanfa Chai
Shanfa Chai
5 months ago
Reply to  Alex

“No one really cares about beauty pageants anymore.”

Well, people from Latin American and Southeast Asian countries would like to disagree with you. You’ll see a bunch of pointless nationalistic internet wars on any website or forum related to beauty pageants, with the perpetrators mostly coming from those two regions I mentioned above. I’m saying this because I used to be one. Now I couldn’t careless about beauty pageants.

James
James
5 months ago
Reply to  Alex

Much like a 6-decade old song contest that casuals are still surprised it still exists in 2021.

Gurl
Gurl
5 months ago
Reply to  Alex

Can’t believe people still criticize beauty pageants in 2021. It’s like when people criticize Eurovision for being trash or too political. Let women do whatever they please with their bodies.

Last edited 5 months ago by Gurl
Pancake
Pancake
5 months ago

Considering the “training” these girls have to go through (extreme diets, hours of walking in torturous 8-9 inch heels, verbal spats, objectification, e.g.), I think I’m on Netta’s side on this one. While she does missed some marks, she does made a valid point.

Matthew
Matthew
5 months ago

I disagree with Netta. While sure looks do matter in picking a winner, there are so many other factors. The walk, the confidence, the charisma, and most importantly what they have done so far in their life, and what they will do if they become miss universe. All the women this year have incredible stories and are very inspirational. I’m a Miss Universe fan as you can tell, so I am biased, but if you follow miss universe closely you know it’s not solely based on looks.

Amor Amankwah
Amor Amankwah
5 months ago
Reply to  Matthew

I agree with you. As someone who watches the contest, Netta’s opinion may be a bit antiquated. You don’t just focus on looks but personality, intelligence and the positive way you’ll influence the world. So many of these participants are so well educated, rounded and a big part of their community.

eurovision2022adisaster
eurovision2022adisaster
5 months ago
Reply to  Amor Amankwah

In Africa too the beauty pageant start to have many fans, especially in Miss World this years i have see many fans in social media support Miss Cote d’Ivorire or Miss Cameroon and Miss Botswana

trollo
trollo
5 months ago

slimphobia uwu? 😉

Polegend Godgarina
5 months ago

that’s just her insecurity speaking, let’s be real

Whisker
Whisker
5 months ago

And a paycheck she said “no” to.

ace
ace
5 months ago

Whenever I see that username here, I already know it’s nonsense like this that’s about to come up.

Dani
5 months ago

She literally did a swimsuit shoot with skinny models right next to her last year. think insecure is the last thing you can call Netta.

Last edited 5 months ago by Dani
Addie
Addie
5 months ago
Reply to  Dani

That’s the truth, people!

Nils
Nils
5 months ago

Who had the ‘brilliant’ idea to invite her in the first place? How did they think she’d react?

On the general matter: I understand Netta’s point and agree with her. Alas, as long as there are women and men who are willing to be judged for their looks only, we have to respect their decisions.

Whisker
Whisker
5 months ago
Reply to  Nils

It’s not just about the looks and the way they speak on stage. It’s also about they conduct themselves in their personal and professional life, their behaviour during the weeks before the competition, how they use social media and other things. The winner aka “Miss Universe” will work with the Miss Universe Organization, it’s a job! That’s the part that many people don’t see or understand. Being Miss Universe is a job.

Maya G
Maya G
5 months ago
Reply to  Whisker

Come on, they may have have added the question round and the winner goes and takes pictures doing some charity work, but in essence it is a beauty pageant and the main criteria is the contestants appearance, you have to be deluded to deny that. Some people enjoy this kind of entertainment and it’s perfectly legal to hold these pageants, but many other people are very uncomfortable with them and wouldn’t want to take part in them in any capacity, which is their right. Netta didn’t call to ban or boycott the Miss Universe pageant, she just gave her reason… Read more »

Whisker
Whisker
5 months ago
Reply to  Maya G

I’m not deluded. I challenge you to contact the Miss Universe Organization so they can tell you directly that looks are not their main criterion in choosing the winner. They are very busy right now since the contest is coming Monday at 2am in Israel, but go ahead.

Maya G
Maya G
5 months ago
Reply to  Whisker

I’m sure they will say that. And if I contact facebook I bet they’ll say their main goal is to make the world a better place and bring people together.

Whisker
Whisker
5 months ago
Reply to  Maya G

Not really, but suit yourself.

Coco
Coco
5 months ago
Reply to  Whisker

Watch John Oliver show about Miss America.

Whisker
Whisker
5 months ago
Reply to  Coco

I did and found it super cool and hilarious.

DDD
DDD
5 months ago
Reply to  Maya G

You are proving that you know nothing about pageants besides stereotypes, please stop.

Maya G
Maya G
5 months ago
Reply to  Nils

Well, you can respect their wishes and still not want to appear in this pageant yourself.
Netta doesn’t appreciate this type of pageants, with good reason IMO, and doesn’t have to perform in one if she doesn’t feel like it, and her own choice doesn’t take away the right the contestants have to get scored on how they strut in bathing suits and sequin dresses.

Whisker
Whisker
5 months ago

“Outdated and diminishing”? I don’t think so. Those women really want to be there, and for every woman you see on that stage, there are many more women that vied to be in her position. It’s their choice. It’s freedom. Let them be.

Maya G
Maya G
5 months ago
Reply to  Whisker

Yes, these women want to be there. It still doesn’t necessarily make the contest contemporary or empowering, at least not in Netta’s opinion – and it’s not like she called for women to boycott beauty pageants, she merely stated her own reasons for not taking up on this offer. She made her choice, let her be.

James
James
5 months ago
Reply to  Maya G

And she is getting some royalty out of having her song played there in one of the competitions that took place there so there’s that.

Jimmy
Jimmy
5 months ago
Reply to  Whisker

I completely agree with you, Whisker. What is the point of ‘freedom of expression’ if those who supposedly champion it so keenly tell everyone else exactly how to live?

Like you say, pageants are as much about ‘conduct’ and ‘skill’ as they are about ‘presentation’. It’s wonderful that Netta feels so empowered but she doesn’t have to slam these kinds of events as diminishing, when it’s clear they can be empowering and aspirational too, such as Aishwarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra winning Miss World for India.

Roro31
5 months ago

people who allow themselves to criticize beauty contests when it is not even just the physique that counts that makes me laugh gently !!

The Canadian in 2016 made a top 9 and didn’t have such a well-made body !! Now the personality, the eloquence and other qualities are put forward enormously so stop believing that it is only the physical !!

And then people are just jealous including Netta, respect these women I respect them !! Netta is a hypocrite!

Maya G
Maya G
5 months ago

Good on her! Giving people score on how they wear a bathing suit or a sequins dress is demeaning. This is the essence of beauty pageants.
This contest is very anachronistic and promotes a very antiquated concept of beauty, and I understand why Netta didn’t want to be associated with it.

Eurovision fan
Eurovision fan
5 months ago

People generally should not be judged on their physical performance that’s sure, but if someone is fat and blowns itself up in McDonalds then being thin and avoiding junk food does not make sense because he/she deems that should not be valued? There are some standards like everywhere and I do not see her point. At least it’s not good for health and can cause heart attack.

And in the end it is competition come on.

Stephanie
5 months ago

In the national costume competition yesterday, Miss Japan paid tribute to her. Miss Thailand is plus-sized. The slogan of Miss Universe is “Confidently Beautiful”, meaning every woman and girl should feel confident in their own skin and their own abilities – I remember my country’s representative in 2016 wasn’t as slim as many of the other contestants were, but she radiated confidence in the swimsuit competition and finished in the top 9

Whisker
Whisker
5 months ago
Reply to  Stephanie

This “plus-sized” concept should be banned. MU Canada 2016 looked very ok in swimsuit. The only questionable issue that year was the answer Miss France = the winner! gave at the final Q&A and the translator’s translation. That was the most offensive thing ever. Unbelievable. Offensive and ridiculous.

Apollo
Apollo
5 months ago

How hypocritical.

abc__fgh
abc__fgh
5 months ago

Miss Universe isn’t only about beauty. I find her comment arrogant tbh