The Italian Almanac
Italian News - September 2
Organisers of the 2005 Miss Italia beauty pageant have decided to have contestants wear bikinis in the finals as part of a bid to bring the show up-to-date and boost viewing figures.
In recent years would-be Miss Italias wore a range of outfits throughout the five-day TV extravaganza but the most daring were one-piece swimming costumes. Even though the costumes left the back and much of the tummy in view, belly buttons remained chastely covered. After final night viewing figures last year dipped by a million compared to the previous year and amid criticism of the show's "outdated" format, organisers clearly felt decisive action was needed.
As the early, untelevised stages of the contest kicked off this week, a presentation press conference announced a series of innovations for the finals which will be broadcast live from September 15 to 19. These included a song-and-dance format in which contestants will show off their performing talents in pairs while viewers vote on which one should be knocked out of the competition.
But the announcement that attracted the most attention at the press conference was when officials revealed that the traditional swimsuit parade would be "no longer in the same old outdated one-piece". The reaction in the press was generally one of mild bemusement, although one daily, Rome's Il Messaggero, was excited enough to put the news on its front page, with the headline: It's the belly Button that Counts.