13 Dec 2018

Pretty girls don't just want to get married

If you are a young girl who has just won a beauty pageant, marrying a rich man is your next step. At least this is what the Nova TV network implied during last week’s interview with the winner of the Miss Bulgaria 2018 beauty contest.

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
Pretty girls don't  just want to get married - NewsMavens
Teodora Mudeva, YouTube

Teodora Mudeva, 17-year-old high school student from the Bulgarian city of Burgas, was crowned Miss Bulgaria at the national event held on November 30 in the capital, Sofia. The win included press events with local media outlets, including a studio interview with Mudeva and the runners-up on Nova TV’s morning show “Zdravei, Bulgaria” (in English: “Hello Bulgaria”).  

Besides asking typical questions on how the three of them decided to apply for the contest, the show’s hosts were curious to find out about their personal lives and what they planned to do going forward. Mudeva, the winner, and the first one to be interviewed, said that she plans to study law at one of the Bulgarian universities after graduating from a language high school.

“I want to be successful. My dream is to have a good career,” she told Nova TV.

Speaking about her ambitions to contribute to her country, she added that, in her opinion, her career aspirations and desires could all be achieved in her home country of Bulgaria.


However, her appearance on the show was described with the following headline in Bulgarian media:

“Miss Bulgaria 2018 about rich men and dreams”

Mudeva actually never said a single word about rich men, and was pretty specific about her career plans. So how did this become the highlight of the interview?


Even though Mudeva was very explicit about her career-oriented ambitions, one of the hosts couldn’t hold back from asking: If a wealthy man proposed to her to move abroad, would she accept the offer?

“I don’t have such a wish,” Mudeva replied.  

The question was a textbook example of stereotyping against women. Firstly because of the sexist presumption that a woman thinks only about finding a man, even if she has already very clearly spoken about her professional career goals. Secondly, because the question was posed to a beauty contestant, who are often perceived as empty-headed Barbie dolls striving to attract rich husbands. Thirdly, because the contestant is a female high school student who is only 17 years old. And lastly, because the person who asked the question was a man -- and one who was quite clearly ogling his teen guest while asking.

The Bulgarian web news magazine Vesti.bg then embedded the interview into its own summary of what Mudeva told Nova TV under the aforementioned headline.  And that is how the story became about a “rich man and dreams”.

Title of Vesti.bg Facebook post: “See what the new Miss Bulgaria said in her first interview” (screenshot of Vesti.bg Facebook page)

“I don’t have such a wish” (In Bulgarian: “Нямам такива потребности”) is all Mudeva said when asked about going abroad with an imaginary rich man.

Yet the editors of Vesti.bg chose a misleading headline that transformed those three words -- which clearly negated any consideration of such a scenario -- into a “juicy” stereotypical story about beauty contestants running after rich husbands.

The reason is obvious -- readers will likely be less interested in reading what Miss Bulgaria really wants to do with her life (study law), then in discovering whom she wants to marry.


Both the question Mudeva was asked and the decision to highlight it in the article are examples of sexual objectification of women -- or, in this case, a 17 year old teenager. The headline chosen on the basis of a question asked, rather than what Mudeva really said, was both a misrepresentation of facts and clickbait created to attract views using misleading information.


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
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