In French, a young lady capable of winning a beauty pageant or the title of Miss France, say, is referred to as a "miss"... and this English term can even be found in French dictionaries. On December 8, the winner of the Miss France 2008 contest was Valérie Bègue, from the French island in the Indian Ocean named La Réunion.
In the above photo, behind the new miss, the lady in a black and white hat is Geneviève de Fontenay. Having chaperoned the Miss France contest for ages, she has become a celebrity in her own right. It might even be said that, in France, the look and the outspoken personality of Madame de Fontenay are probably better known than the identity of the latest miss.
Now, the famous chaperone turned red with fury when she learned that some old photos of Valérie Bègue, posed in a suggestive manner, have been published in a French magazine. Madame de Fontenoy announced that the new Miss France should resign immediately, and she even referred to La Réunion in an impolite fashion that might be construed as offensive, indeed racist. As for Valérie and her countless supporters in La Réunion and elsewhere, she doesn't appear disposed to yield her newly-won crown. So, a war has broken out between Miss France and Geneviève de Fontenoy.
Not to be outdone by miss-behavior in France, Belgium provides us with a shocking case of an unexpected miss-adventure involving their newly-elected national miss, named Alizée Poulicek.
Normally, in Belgium, individuals in the public limelight are expected to be fluent in at least two languages: French and Flemish. Well, Miss Belgium doesn't seem to understand a word of Flemish. To put it bluntly, in the case of Miss Belgium, something is seriously amiss.
Elsewhere on the planet, another miss has hit the news: Miss Teen USA South Carolina 2007. Somebody asked her what she thought of the fact that many Americans can't locate their land on maps. To my mind, her reply was more stunning than the sexy photos of Miss France and more alarming than the linguistic infirmities of Miss Belgium.