Beauty pageants can sometimes be controversial in China. But officials from Shanyin County in Shanxi province probably had little idea that they would spark a backlash when they came up with their own pageant idea. In Shanyin’s case, the goal was to find the ‘most beautiful cow’, a move designed to promote the local dairy industry. Judges selected 30 of the most charming cows in the county (from 100,000 unknowing contenders, apparently) and then showcased them at the contest. However, it wasn’t just the cows on display. Perhaps to make the pageant a little more visually interesting, the officials arranged for bikini-clad milkmaids. Shanghai Daily reports that this angered many of Shanyin’s high-minded villagers who said the event was ‘promoting vulgarity’. As usual, the debate went viral on the internet, with one microblogger commenting: “If they were aiming to select the most beautiful cow, why did they hire models? I don’t think it’s good for children to watch.” One model told reporters she’d been hired to represent the harmony of humans and nature. And the county head stood by his bikini strategy: “We want to promote the local dairy industry to let more people drink safe milk.”
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