The judge of a beauty pageant that attracted controversy when a transgender teen appealed to the Human Rights Commission to gain entry, says the best-looking Kiwi women are not entering and current contestants need to "tone up".
Miss Bikini New Zealand director and Battle of the Babes judge Katrina Turner said when she told existing finalists to "tone up" there was an outcry from pageant "haters".
"We asked the finalists of Miss Bikini NZ to lose weight because they were slightly more overweight/less toned compared to the international beauty pageant girls," she said in an email.
Turner said the contestants did not take offence at being told to "tone up" and losing weight did not mean the women should starve and become "catwalk model skinny".
The competition organised a personal trainer who could also provide healthy nutrition advice, she said.
"This is an industry based mainly on appearance, with criticism thrown at you all the time. If someone telling you to tone up offends you then this is not the industry for you.
"Miss Bikini NZ is not here to please you. We don't strive to be liked."
Turner said the standards in beauty pageants in New Zealand had been too low for a while.
A lot of New Zealand women were "drop-dead gorgeous" but the best looking ones were not entering the beauty pageants.
Her comments come less than two weeks after Newstalk ZB presenter Rachel Smalley said New Zealand women were "heifers" and a "bunch of lardos" on air when she thought the microphone was switched off.
Smalley made the comments shortly after she had been discussing a story that said an emergency contraceptive pill was less effective in women weighing more than 70kg.
According to Bloomberg, the average weight of New Zealand women is 74.6kg.
Turner yesterday received a rebuke from National Council of Women of New Zealand president Barbara Arnold, who labelled the call to "tone up" as "rude".
Arnold said the comments were made at a time when an increasing number of New Zealanders from both genders battled weight issues.
"No doubt we can all think of people who that might apply to [to lose weight], but I wouldn't be so rude as to suggest to people that they do that sort of thing," she said.
Arnold said the women's council did not have a stance on beauty or bikini pageants. Instead, it implored Kiwi women to employ "individual responsibility and choice".
Meanwhile, Turner said she believed transgender beauty pageant finalist Amy Brosnahan was better than most models in New Zealand.
The 18-year-old made headlines last week after she competed in Battle of the Babes in Auckland to gain a place in the finals to be held next month.
Brosnahan went to the Human Rights Commission after initially being denied entry by organisers.
Brosnahan's modelling ability was "far beyond" that of most young models trying to break into the industry, Turner said.
"She looks beautiful, she walks with stride, her poses are perfect, her body is long and toned, her skin is healthy, her personality outgoing and friendly."
While Brosnahan was a "perfect model" she was only allowed to compete "for the experience" and could not go overseas to compete.
This was because international pageant laws dictated by "the guys on the other side of the world in their golden castle" restricted entry to those "legally born a female," Turner said.
- Sunday Star Times