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French beauty queens in struggle for jobs
For France's beauty queens, it seems looks won't get you everywhere. Photo: Damien Meyer/AFP

French beauty queens in struggle for jobs

Published on: 04 Feb 2013 20:16 CET

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Once the glitz and the glamour has faded away, it appears that Miss Bourgogne, Miss Brittany or Miss Pas-de-Calais struggle like the rest of us to find a job in the middle of an economic crisis and near record levels of unemployment.

One beauty pageant has become so concerned with the struggles of former contestants that they have organized a job fair to help the women find work. It is believed to be a first in France.

“These girls are only in the spotlight for a few days, sometimes only one evening. They lack networks and, contrary to what people might think, their physique does not open doors for them, it just gives them a little boost,” Sébastian Samier, one of the event organisers told French daily Le Parisien.

The forum or “Miss job-club” as it could be dubbed, was held this weekend in the northern town of Arras. It was organized by the regional committee of Miss Nord-Pas-de-Calais, which invited a host of companies from around the region to meet with potential employees.

French bank Caisse d’Epargne, holiday giant Club Med and recruitment agency Adecco were among the companies represented at the job fair.

“These girls have public relations skills and have matured by participating in the competition. To speak in front of a microphone at the age of 18, you need to be courageous,” said Samier. “Beauty is not their most important quality, that’s more their dynamism.”

The initiative has naturally won support from former beauty queens.

“Beauty can ruin your chances of getting a job as much as it can help them,” Laury Thilleman, Miss France 2011 told Le Parisien. “Recruiters say to themselves ‘she’s pretty but has she got a brain?'”

Beauty contests are taken fairly seriously in France where the annual Miss France pageant is contested by the winners of regional competitions.

Although regional winners might find themselves back in the queue at the job centre, whoever clinches the title of 'Miss France' is more likely to be seen relaxing in the boutiques of the Champs-Elysees.

For becoming Miss France, 2010 winner Malika Ménard won a car, the use of a Paris apartment for one year, and monthly net salary of €4000.

Marine Lorphelin, 19, crowned Miss France 2013, didn't do too badly either.  A sports car, a crystal crown and a trip for two to the paradise island of Ile Maurice, were just a few of the prizes she took home.

Lorphelin’s win was tainted, however, when a black rights group slammed the competition for producing a "white as snow" winner from a field it claimed was unrepresentative of the country's ethnic make-up.

Ben McPartland(ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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