It had all the trappings of a typical beauty contest: Contestants in evening gowns strutting before the judges, a talent portion, and of course, a sparkly tiara for the winning lady.
But the third annual Y+ Beauty pageant held in Kampala, Uganda, this past weekend also had some unusual features. All of the more than 150 competitors were HIV positive — the Y+ stands for “young person living with HIV/AIDS.” Also, many of the participants were men — along with a Miss Y+ they crowned a Mr. Y+. Most important, says the organizer, Jacquelyne Alesi, however dashing the two winners happen to be, they were actually picked based on their “inner beauty.”
“We’re not looking for whether you have a nice figure or a nice shirt or the beauty of your face,” says Alesi, executive director of an advocacy group called Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV&AIDS, or UNYPA. “We’re looking for ambassadors to help us fight the stigma around AIDS.” Read more