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From queen of agriculture to miss showgirl: Embodying rurality in twentieth‐century Australia


Darian-Smith, K, From queen of agriculture to miss showgirl: Embodying rurality in twentieth‐century Australia, Journal of Australian Studies, 25, (71) pp. 17-31. ISSN 1444-3058 (2001) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2018 Informa UK Limited

DOI: doi:10.1080/14443050109387717


The judging of the inaugural Victorian Miss Showgirl competition was held on Thursday 19 September 1957 in Centenary Hall at the Melbourne Showgrounds. Crowds gathered to see almost a hundred entrants parade the narrow stage to exhibit their 'personality, dress sense and grooming'. This state-wide competition was organised by the Victorian Royal Agricultural Society as a new 'highlight of the show', and was promoted by its co-sponsor, the Sun-News-Pictorial, as being 'open to all single girls between 16 and 25 years of age' whose photos met the approval of the newspaper's General Manager. The Sun carried photos of each 'heat' winner, with nine women eventually, chosen for the final parade on Show Day. Kay Nielsen, an 18 year-old shop assistant from the Melbourne suburb of Thornbury was awarded the title. Next day, the Sun's front cover described 'Kay' as 'a brunette with green eyes', gave her height, weight and 'vital statistics', and reported that she 'smiled through tears' as she received her sash and 250 prize. Ms Nielsen was obviously a popular winner; she later became Miss Victoria as an entrant in the Miss Australia contest (a competition also sponsored by the Sun).

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:history, Australia
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:Australian history
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Darian-Smith, K (Professor Kate Darian-Smith)
ID Code:124246
Year Published:2001
Deposited By:College Office - CALE
Deposited On:2018-02-14
Last Modified:2018-04-20

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