This Day in History: October 31st

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Miss World (1970) Jennifer Hosten Was Born

Prior to 1970, the Miss World pageant and its winner were not reflective of all women across the globe. However, the Grenadian-born participant, Jennifer Hosten made history when she competed in the 1970 Miss World pageant and won the title.

Hosten was born on October 31, 1947, in St. George’s, Grenada. She spent her childhood in the heart of the tropics being raised with her parents Lyle and Phyllis Hosten and her four siblings. Life on the island helped to shape who she would become. 

In 1970, Hosten represented Grenada at the Miss World contest in London and the contest was filled with controversy. The pageant was held when the anti-apartheid movement was at its height, and that led to South Africa sending two representatives to the contest. South Africa sent a white and a Black contestant. The pageant also sparked outrage from the newly formed Women’s Liberation Movement. The movement protested the event and claimed that it demeaned and objectified women.

Millions of people tuned in to the broadcast hosted by comedian Bob Hope as he opened the pageant at London’s Royal Albert Hall with a joke. After disruption from the women’s liberation group, the final competition came down to Hosten from Grenada and the black contestant from South Africa. This was the first time in the competition’s history that both the winner and the runner-up were both women of color. 

Just days after the pageant, the director resigned due to increased pressure and negative media coverage. However, as Miss World, she was able to travel the world and entertained US troops with Bob Hope and other celebrities. Her travels took her to places such as Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. 

Following her reign as Miss World, Hosten settled down and moved to Canada. She earned two Master’s degrees in political science and international relations. From 1978 to 1981 she served as Grenada’s high commissioner to Canada. Hosten even worked as a Canadian diplomat in Bangladesh before returning to her native country of Grenada. 

She also authored How I Entered a Pageant and Wound Up Making History,” which was launched in the UK. In September of 2020, Hosten’s pageant story was turned into the movie, Misbehaviour. The British comedy-drama starred Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Hosten. 

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