A newly crowned Miss France beauty queen has become embroiled in accusations of racism and a catfight between previous winners just days into her reign.
The Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN) denounced medical student Marine Lorphelin, 19, for being ‘as white as snow’ and criticised the lack of black and Arab contestants.
The organisation labelled the contest outdated and an insult to the country’s ethnic diversity – but the attack has prompted an angry backlash from Miss Lorphelin’s supporters.
CRAN president Louis-Georges Tin said in a statement jointly issued by Miss Black France creator, Fred Royer: ‘The failure to represent the contemporary French population in an event such as this is obviously serious.
‘It amounts to denying the very existence of French people of African origin.’
But Didier Maisto, editor of Lyon Capitale, a website based in Miss Lorphelin’s home region of Burgundy said: ‘These types of comments, which are violently anti-Republican, seek to set French people against each other.’
The victory was followed days later by a mixed-race contestant, Auline Grac, 21, winning the dissident competition Miss Prestige.
Miss Lorphelin was due to appear on the Faut Pas Rater Ca talk show on public television station France 4 to be interviewed by Elodie Gossuin – who won Miss France last year and is a supporter of Miss Prestige.
But Miss France Company managing director, Sylvie Tellier, who won the pageant in 2002, refused to allow Miss Lorphelin to be interviewed by her bitter rival.
Television executives gave in and sent Miss Gossuin home despite accusations they had failed to defend editorial independence.
Miss Lorpehlin was instead interviewed by presenter Isabelle Morini-Bosc, who asked her guest about a small scar on her nose.
She replied: ‘You noticed it. It was plastic surgery. I had a little crust on my nose when I was adolescent and it wasn’t very beautiful.’
The CRAN statement added: ‘In the antiquated world of Miss France, blacks apparently can only come from overseas departments.
‘As for Frenchwomen of north African heritage, they were ‘represented’ by only one candidate who was quickly eliminated (too Muslim perhaps?).
‘Miss France is as white as the end of year snow on the steeples of an eternal France.’
by Lorelle Heath