Half of Participants Are Men : China Holds Its First Beauty Contest

United Press International

A railway worker and a hotel attendant flaunted their bodies and their brains to win top prizes in China's first beauty contest, officials said today.

Wang Zijain, 22, a disease prevention worker at a train station in the southern city of Canton, accepted his trophy Wednesday before a crowd of 600 in the "Beauty and Transparency Palace" of Canton's China Hotel.

"Through this contest we've finally learned what true beauty is," Wang told the spectators.

Contest sponsors described Wang, dressed in a blue Western-style business suit, as a handsome, "sturdily built" 5-foot-9 railway worker.

The female first prize winner was Xie Ruochi, 20, a willowy attendant at Canton's White Swan hotel.

The beauty contest reportedly drew stern attacks from Communist Party hard-liners who feared it would give the world a bad impression, and officials attempted to bar foreign journalists from the final round.

Seventy percent of the 660 contestants were members of the Communist Party or Communist Youth League. Half of the participants were men and many were considered "model" workers, peasants or soldiers.

"No one wore any peculiar dress," one official said, alluding to a taboo that still prevails in China on low-cut necklines, see-through blouses or other revealing garb. There was no bathing suit competition.

But he boasted that most male contestants sported smart-looking Western-style suits--the height of fashion in China today--and that women entrants shunned the traditional communist uniforms of blue and green Mao suits for well-tailored skirts and blouses. Many wore makeup.

In a written exam portion of the beauty contest, candidates were asked questions such as, "Why are you participating in this event?"

A diplomatic reply frequently heard was, "Socialism needs beauty."

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