Miss Bolivia 'steps down' after learning she's pregnant, says Miss Universe

Joyce Prado lost her title after the organisers found out the 22-year-old model is pregnant

Joyce Prado of Bolivia competes in the evening gown competition during the 2018 Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok on December 13, 2018. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)
Powered by automated translation

Model Joyce Prado was clearly over the moon when she revealed on Instagram that she's going to have a baby. She posted a photograph of her and her Paraguayan partner, model Rodrigo Gimenez, holding up a tiny little onesie. She wrote: "I want to share with you that I am the happiest woman in the world because my life is full of love, because together with the man of my dreams we are beginning to live the most beautiful stage of our lives."

The post caused an international furore.

A day later, she was the subject of headlines across the world, as it was revealed she'd been stripped of her Miss Santa Cruz and Miss Bolivia crowns days before she announced her pregnancy to the world.

Prado represented her country at the 2018 Miss Universe pageant in Thailand in December 2018. Miss Philippines, Catriona Gray, went on to win the title.

As the news of Prado's pregnancy went global, modelling agency Promociones Gloria, who represents Prado, then announced in a post on Facebook that the 22-year-old mum-to-be had had the titles taken away due to a "breach of contract". They were no more specific about the reasons than that.

However, the agency added that they maintain good relations with Prado. It also shared a post on Instagram of a newspaper article from El Dia on April 13, which ran with headline: "Joyce Prado is left without a crown because of her pregnancy". In the article, Promociones Gloria general manager Tatiana Limpas confirmed Prado has a five-year contract with the agency and "will remain in the ranks of the agency as a model".

The National received a comment from Miss Universe about Miss Bolivia's situation, saying it was Prado's decision to move on. A spokesperson for the pageant said: "Upon learning she was pregnant, Joyce Prado discussed with her director and ultimately decided to step down to focus on this next exciting chapter in her life. We support her and wish her all the best."

Although Miss Universe is "run by women for women", it is stated in the rules that contestants are not allowed to be pregnant. Under the website's frequently asked questions section it states: "contestants may not be married or pregnant. They must not have ever been married, not had a marriage annulled nor given birth to, or parented a child. The titleholders are also required to remain unmarried throughout their reign."

Other women said to have been dethroned for being pregnant during their reign include Vanessa Torres who was Miss Guam in 2011, Nicola Mimnagh who was Miss United Kingdom International in 2011, and Justlyn Ollivierre who was Miss Easterval in 2013.

In 2002, Oaxana Fedorova, who was the first Russian entrant to win Miss Universe, was mysteriously replaced by Miss Panama. The official line was the she'd been refusing to turn up to scheduled promotional and charity events. However, rumours circulated about a secret marriage and pregnancy.

The pageant, which was founded in 1952, has often been the source of scorn among feminists, as it is said participants are required to appear "pure" and "unattainable", perhaps going some way to explaining the strict rules around marriage and pregnancy.

Between the years 1996 and 2015, Miss Universe Organization was owned by President Donald Trump. Former contestants have since alleged that Trump behaved inappropriately towards them during that time, such as walking into changing rooms and making derogatory comments, Rolling Stone reported. Trump denies the allegations.

That being said, in 2018 the first-ever transgender model, Angela Ponce of Spain, competed. While rules and times are certainly changing, there's clearly still a way to go until it enters the 21st century.