Miss France organisers taken to labour court over height and topless photo rules

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected] • 7 Nov, 2022 Updated Mon 7 Nov 2022 13:50 CEST
Miss France organisers taken to labour court over height and topless photo rules
Miss Ile-de-France Diane Leyre reacts as she is crowned Miss France 2022 (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

French feminists have taken advantage of the country's strict labour laws to file complaints of discrimination against the Miss France organisation.


There's only one job where the advert states you have to be over 1m 70 tall and have never been photographed topless - and this week the French labour court is set to rule over whether that is discriminatory. 

Specifically, the Bobigny court was asked to determine whether Miss France contestants are employees or volunteers - a question which was raised by feminist group Osez-le-Feminisme (Dare to be Feminist) in October 2021. The group targeted the beauty pageant organisation Miss France - along with the television channel that airs the programme, Endemol Production - in its complaint.

According to Osez-le-Feminisme, which is representing three former Miss France contestants, the competition breaches France's labour laws, as contestants had previously not been given work contracts for their time participating in the television show. 

READ MORE: New Miss France insists she’s a feminist


Essentially, if contestants are to be viewed as full employees - with employment contracts - then the labour code would apply - specifically, the legal framework forbidding companies from "discriminating on the basis of morals, age, family status or physical appearance" a lawyer for Osez-le-Féminisme, Violaine De Filippis-Abate, told RMC radio.

By these standards, some of the requirements that competitors with the Miss France competition are expected to follow, such as size requirements - a height of at least 1m70 - and expectations regarding personal behaviour, such as not having been photographed nude, could be ruled discriminatory under French labour law.

The verdict was set to be announced on November 8th, but the question will linger on until November 18th after judges were unable to reach a decision. 

After the original complaint was filed in October 2021, the Miss France organisation announced it would make some changes, including removing the rule that candidates must be under 24 years old, opting to make it so that anyone over the age of 18 could apply.

Alexia Laroche-Joubert, the head of the Miss France organisation, told Le Figaro in June 2022 that "from now on" candidates must be "over 18 years old, and at least 1.70 metres tall - because they wear designer dresses and a minimum height is required - and that they be female in their civil status, which was already the case before."

The organisation also removed the requirement that contestants be unmarried.


In addition to charges of discrimination, Osez-le-Féminisme is also tackling the working conditions for contestants with Miss France. 

"The company makes a profit on the exploitation of women," the spokesperson for the organsiation, Alyssa Ahrabare, told Actu Seine-Saint-Denis.

While the Miss France company agreed in December 2021 to create three-day work contracts for the 29 participants in the national contest, the feminist group hoped to place the spotlight on the labour that Miss France contestants provide during the weeks of preparation ahead of the show.

READ MORE: Miss France contestants to get employment contracts for the first time

"As soon as they are chosen in the regional contest, the candidates represent the brand Miss France with interviews, shows and time constraints," said Ahrabare.


As for the Miss France competition - the 2023 winner will be crowned on December 17th, 2022.

Despite regular controversies, the contest remains very popular in France - the final is screened on primetime TV and regularly attracts audiences in the millions. 


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