In a groundbreaking moment for the Miss France pageant’s century-long history, the crown has been claimed by a contestant with short hair. Eve Gilles, a 20-year-old mathematics and statistics student, emerged victorious over the weekend, embracing an androgynous look that she proudly hailed as a “victory for diversity.”
Addressing the audience, Gilles expressed her belief in individuality, stating, “No one can tell you who you should be.” She pledged to champion the values of strong women, emphasizing the uniqueness of every woman and celebrating their differences.
Gilles, representing the northern Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, is the first Miss France with short hair, marking a departure from the traditional image of beauty often associated with long locks. Her triumph was met with both applause and criticism, with online detractors accusing the pageant of pandering to “woke culture.”
Facing hostility on social media regarding her physique and appearance, Gilles remained resilient, asserting in an interview with French daily Le Parisien, “People criticizing me over my hair doesn’t bother me because I can change my hair. I chose this hair, but I didn’t choose my body, or my metabolism.”
The newly crowned Miss France aims to utilize her platform to inspire children, particularly young girls, to pursue mathematics and science. Gilles hopes to demystify these subjects and make them more approachable, challenging the notion that they are complicated and difficult.
The Miss France pageant underwent rule changes in recent years to embrace a more modern and inclusive approach. The removal of age limits, allowing married contestants with children and visible tattoos, and welcoming trans contestants in 2019 reflected a shift towards greater diversity. However, critics noted that the Miss France 2024 contestants still appeared relatively homogenous, with certain criteria remaining unchanged.
Despite the evolving landscape of beauty pageants, Gilles remains focused on her broader mission. “I want to be a strong woman,” she asserted, “I want to make people realize that no matter where you start, no matter what path you take, you can achieve your goals. I want to show people that women are diverse, that we’re all beautiful, that we’re all different and unique. I’m not unique because of my hair; I’m unique because I’m Eve.”