Jamima International Jamima Contest: Contest has ‘Botox girl’ banned from contest

Media playback is not supported on this device Women’s Royal International Jamima camel beauty contest Not only does one contestant need to be eliminated before it is time to start voting. A contestant has…

Jamima International Jamima Contest: Contest has 'Botox girl' banned from contest

Media playback is not supported on this device Women’s Royal International Jamima camel beauty contest

Not only does one contestant need to be eliminated before it is time to start voting.

A contestant has been barred from a beauty contest because organisers claim she was using Botox for attention.

Rahira Zolidny, from Georgia, was removed from the Jamima International Jamima Contest for having what she called “fake eyelashes”.

She has also been denied entry to the Paradise Club in Cape Town over what organisers say is “spreading of body shaming messages”.

She had “made herself all the more eye-catching”, they said, with her wearing “short dresses, too high heels and Botox.

Zolidny, who won the youth division at the first Jamima International Jamima Contest in 2013, told BBC News she would not be writing to the organisers but had since realised “the implications of their actions are not just cosmetic or even political, but rather cultural”.

She said she had been treated “differently because of being female” and was now receiving death threats.

“My husband was not allowed in the contest because of my appearance and personal life,” she added.

“My friends have condemned the organisers.”

‘Gross sexism’

Sahar Gyelyvany of Tarini Fashion Boutique told Zolidny’s lawyer about the “questionable” appearance, in a letter seen by BBC News.

But Zolidny, who says the reason for the Botox use is “regional bias”, has accused organisers of being racist and in “gross sexism”.

She said she was the first to have Botox, on 6 November last year, and has had injections every six months since.

“I wanted to change my appearance because I wanted to be beautiful,” she told BBC News.

But she adds that “there is no requirement to show up to events and be on social media in the same styles and for the same amount of time”.

She also says her family in the Diaspora would have faced discrimination if she did not win.

“I wanted to have others feel something, that they can do it, their faces can change, and the changing culture is inevitable,” she told BBC News.

‘Realty check… not damage control’

Verve One Design, which organised the contest in question, said the ban was not a knee-jerk reaction, and that they were trying to do their “small part” in “promoting the Moroccan culture”.

Organiser Hicham Bassoun, who came third in 2007, said he would “never” have banned a contestant over their appearance.

“I find the prospect of denying a girl the opportunity of her debut in the fashion scene in favour of forcing her down a path that encourages ugly-happyness not very attractive,” he told BBC News.

But he says the ethos of the company was not to “allow beautiful people to come to Morocco” and supported the woman’s right to take part or not.

He says “fake eyelashes” will also be banned in future but women who are breast-fed should be allowed in the competition to participate in their own way.

“I do not believe that being Moroccan and authentic, without being very beautiful, is a bad thing,” he said.

BBC News has contacted the organisers of the beauty contest.

Zolidny said she does not wish to go against the legal requirement for contestants not to discuss the matter in public.

She says her case highlights the importance of “realistic harassment.”

“If you’re dealing with the problem of discrimination you have to enforce it in a real, authentic way,” she told BBC News.

“This is not damage control, this is a real reality check. And it’s an opportunity to make sure that we all respect one another, that we treat each other with dignity.”

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