On September 19, 1888, the world’s first modern beauty contest is thought to have taken place in the small Belgian municipality of Spa.

During the summer of 1888, local newspaper advertisements in Spa announced that “the most beautiful girl on the planet” was to be selected that autumn in a Concours de Beauté, and girls were encouraged to submit some photographs of themselves alongside a short written description. It was a popular concept, and there were over 350 applications. The jury selected a shortlist of 21 to appear in the actual pageant, which was a modest affair by today’s standards: men wore tuxedos, women wore long dresses, and the contestants were hidden from the wider public in a secluded wing of a private house and closed carriages that took them to and from the main hall.

On this September day “the most beautiful girl on the planet” was judged an eighteen-year-old Creole girl from Guadeloupe: Marthe Soucaret. She was rewarded with an impressive prize fund of 5,000 francs. Sadly, almost nothing is known about what became of Soucaret, and how she lived her life. However, the idea of the beauty queen itself certainly became a huge success. So these days there are adult pageants, teen pageants, and child pageants–not to mention male bodybuilding events and the like–and competitions all over the globe, most notably the big four: Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss International and Miss Earth.

More Info: www.historychannel.com.au