‘Little Miss Thong’ pageant sparks outrage

A beauty pageant which took place in Santander last week, featuring 6- to 12-year-olds in bikinis,  has drawn criticism and officials are now considering an investigation.

Police may look into whether the organisers of the Miss Tanguita (or Little Miss Thong) contest, held as part of the Festival del Rios Suarez in the town of Barbosa, broke sexual exploitation laws.

The children’s pageant, which preceded the main Miss Tanga (Miss Thong) event, required parental consent in order for the girls to participate, according to media reports.

The loudest protests against the event came from Cristina Plazas, Director of the Colombian Institute of Family Wellbeing (ICBF), who lodged a formal complaint with the Attorney General’s Office last week.

“The Miss Tanguita contest violates the rights of children. We will sue the organisers, the parents, and the sponsor,” she said via her Twitter account.

But Barbosa Mayor Rocio Galeano said the pageant was a positive event for young girls. She said the event was “not meant to seduce little girls into prostitution but rather encourage girls to be healthy and respect their bodies.”

“We are simply promoting the defence of the body, of body care,” she told a local radio station.

Colombia has a strong beauty pageant culture, and dozens of events are held around the country every year – from Miss Colombia to Miss Coal, Miss Plantain and Miss Panela. Even El Buen Pastor, the women’s prison in Bogota, hosts an annual event.

By Maddie Elder


  1. are you mental Jack? You think 6 year old girls in bikinis & thongs are “expressing themselves”? This isn’t art or poetry. Help us out here: what, exactly, are they expressing?

    You express doubt that the children are being forced to partake. I don’t know about you, but when I was 6 I was forced to do almost everything against my will, such as eating vegetables, going to bed, and going to school. Because I WAS SIX.

    Call me a prude again if you like but, yes, I am anti-6-year-olds-sexuality.

  2. At the heart of it all, the biggest problem with girls parading around in swimsuits in front of an adult crowd is that predators can easily spot who’s vulnerable. Anyone running a child porn operation or brothel will be able to easily identify their next victim, go directly to her parents and claim she’s the next big star, and since many Colombian people are very trusting and easily scammed, the parents hand her over and actual physical and psychological harm may take place. For this reason alone, for making the child vulnerable, the ICBF has all the justification in the world to intervene in some way, as far as I’m concerned. With the child porn industry on the rise in Colombia, sex tourism in Medellin, etc., I see why the ICBF freaked out the way it did. This had been lying under their noses all these years.

    This article is very simplistic, and fair enough, it’s only a snapshot of the scandal in this moment. To fully understand the how and why, you have to know Barbosa and the people there. I have some idea why because I lived in Barbosa for 2 years with my partner, and Barbosa is where he was born and raised.

    The national attention this has received is so embarrassing for almost everyone in Barbosa (everyone except the mayor’s cronies, who’ll defend it to the end, or at least until the money runs out). Unfortunately it’s a show of what corruption and the lack of education among citizens can lead to. Barbosa’s municipal government has been corrupt for years–my partner can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a corrupt government in power. Mayor Marcos started that festival which included Miss Tanga and Miss Tanguita roughly 20 years ago. It’s one of those tacky things that definitely never should have included children, but Marcos was a scary person in those days and no one could really oppose him or his ideas. He was aligned with drug traffickers, and one woman who strongly opposed what he was doing politically was killed. I get the sense he doesn’t have this kind of power nowadays, and this seems like the end for this municipal government and their corrupt friends because of all the national media attention his crazy actions have received. Miss Tanguita is just one symptom of the outrageous levels of corruption that take place there. But unfortunately, the asphalt plant that the mayor also illegally approved in Barbosa recently is less sensational, so no one’s heard about it. Nor has anyone paid much attention to how Marcos was trying to sell public housing to make a little extra cash for himself.

    If you listen to radio interviews with the current mayor of Barbosa (Marcos’s wife, Rocio) about Miss Tanguita it’s so embarrassing. Rocio has no idea what she’s talking about and tries in vain to connect the Miss Tanguita competition with teaching children to care for the environment. Makes no sense at all. But all her speeches are always like this anyway. And anything Marcos started, no matter how ridiculous, she’ll go on defending.

  3. “We are simply promoting the defence of the body, of body care,” said ICBF head.
    But, meanwhile, ICBF is not promoting the public defense of sexual slavery between under-age girls and older commanders in guerrilla groups?
    Between 2012 and 2013, 244 demobilized female fighters reported 43 abortions to the Ministry of Defense’s Humanitarian Care Group for the Demobilized, GAHD. One out of four who demobilize is a woman. Forced abortions — which can be as many as five for a female guerrilla fighter — are the main reason for desertions.
    Defend those #girlsrights. Let’s hear Cristina Plazas talk about those #childrights


    Or let’s hear it for the defense of the rights of underage girls in Medellin, who are being auctioned off for their virginity.


    Or at least talk about women/ girls being used as a “weapon of war,” as concluded by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women. Between 2004 and 2009, according to the Colombian National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science, 665 cases of sexual violence were associated with the conflict. However, this study only reached 65 percent of the population.


    I wonder if the girls who participated in Ms Tanguita/ Ms Thong felt empowered when Ms. Colombia was crowned Ms. Universe. Sadly, perhaps sadly, or not, perhaps not sadly, pageants like Ms Thong have a cultural context, and whereas a girl in another culture might feel empowered by karate or the science fair, these local pageants give girls a “voice,” and a sense of empowerment, of sorts. Many girls already recognize at a young age that their beauty is their sense of survival in Colombia’s macho world. From a young age, their socializing and their cultural context makes them see that their beauty holds power over men — and how they exercise that beauty is the girls’ way to turn machismo around and make that world work for them. It’s part of being schooled as a woman in Colombia.

    The rights of children is something I feel very passionate about. Check out my blog at: http://www.talkingaboutcolombia.com

  4. How does this violate a child’s rights? It doesn’t unless the child was being forced to partake. However, I think this may have to do more with ICBF and it’s morals than the rights of any children. Alsp sparks “outrage”? Sounds like a minority screaming their lungs off because not all people abide by their prude, anti-sexual, anti-youth-sexuality, and anti-body morals that they have.

    Sue the parents? Because they won’ force their kids to do what you want?

    This has nothing to do with the rights of children. One can disagree with allowing a child to express themselves in such a way but please don’t lie and pretend you care about the rights of children.


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