Miss France Eve Gilles says she was 'body shamed' in swimwear round (2024)

The current Miss Francesays negative comments about her body hurt her much more than the outcry over her elfin haircut in the aftermath of winning the country's national beauty pageant.

Eve Gilles' short hair caused a storm when she was won - with 7.5 million people tuning in to watch - back in December 2023, with trolls saying her hair was 'too boyish' - one viewer was so outraged that a woman could be deemed attractive with short hair they asked 'Is this a prank?'

Many critics deemed the kind of long hair favoured by previous winners – and Gallic female icons such as Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve – would have been far more appropriate than theUniversity of Lille student's short pixie bob.

Pictured at the French Open earlier this month, Eve Gilles sparked a backlash after winning the Miss France beauty pageant - because of her short hair, but she says the 'tsunami' of abuse about her body in swimwear hurt more

The public, whose vote counted for 50 per cent, put Miss Guiana and Miss Guadeloupe ahead of Eve but critics claimed the all-female judging panel was motivated by 'wokeness'.

No short-haired woman had even reached the final of the 103-year-old pageant before.

Six months on, the furore has just about died off, and Gilles, spotted enjoying the opening week of the French Open, has been made a maths ambassador by President Macron, as the French leader tires to encourage more young women to study STEM subjects.

Reflecting on the outcry in a new interview with The Times, the 21-year-old says the comments about her physique were far more distressing than the opinions on her hair.

Vile comments intensified after photos were published of her in a swimsuit during a location shoot in Guyana.

In a new interview with The Times, Gilles (pictured), 20, from Nord-Pas-de-Calais in northern France, says the vitriolic comments about her elfin hair upset her mother

The Miss France contestants on stage wearing matching bodysuits with golden tassels during the December 2023 final

Gilles, who says she weighs around 7st 5lb, told the newspaper: 'I chose my hair. I didn’t choose my body or metabolism. It was body shaming.'

The backlash against her hair, she says, began as soon as she progressed through the regional rounds. She says: 'It was like a tsunami coming up behind — you don’t see it but you know it’s right here.'

When she was crowned, Gilles hit back at the onslaught of criticism that came her way,saying: 'We're used to seeing beautiful Misses with long hair, but I chose an androgynous look with short hair' and adding:'no one should dictate who you are'.

While things have improved with Macron's call-up, and fans have called her Miss France win a victory for 'diversity', the maths whizz says the trolling was hard to ignore in the days and weeks after the competition.

Eve has opened up about facing body-shaming during her journey to becoming Miss France

Eve Gilles (left), pictured being crowned Miss France 2024 by Miss France 2023 Indira Ampiot (right), at the Miss France 2024 beauty pageant in Dijon

She continued: 'Sometimes it’s been very difficult. I’m human and in the beginning especially it was very upsetting for my mother. But I got over it and when she saw that I was fine, she was fine too.'

Gilles says she's never had any face-to-face abuse, saying: 'Nobody has the courage. People only say they love me.'

There was scrutiny over her height too; entrants to the prestigious contestants need to be at least 5.57ft (1.7m) but Eva was only 5.56ft (1.695m).

Gilles, from Quaedypre – a village near Dunkirk – said she accordingly 'regained the missing millimetres through stretching'.

A picture first published in Eve's local paper, La Voix du Nord (Voice of the North), shows her beaming for the camera as a girl, while dressed up as a beauty queen.

The beauty pageant winner pictured with longer hair before she cut it ahead of the competition

'I dreamed of being a Miss since I was little,' she said, but 'as I got older I didn't really know how to start,' and wanted to feel 'good in my body, good in my head'.

'These are things that we learn to live with the, and I don't understand how we can criticise something that we can't change.'

Eve was born in Dunkirk, and grew up with her surveyor father, Bruno Gilles, her mother, Edith Gilles, and two older sisters – all of whom helped her cope with the pressure.Eve's mother is from Réunion - an island in the Indian ocean - and met Bruno when she moved to Northern France for work.

The beauty pageant winner started dancing from the age of four and is also a keen equestrian.

After high school in Dunkirk, Eve wanted to become a neurologist, before switching her university studies from medicine to maths and computer studies.

Halfway through the academic year in 2021, Eve returned home and decided to apply for a place on the mathematics course at the University of Lille.

She worked for a year at an egg factory, and now wants to become a statistician.

While waiting to pick up her studies again, Eve worked in an egg factory near her parents' home - which involved doing shifts at all hours of the day.

Newly elected Miss France 2024, Miss Nord-Pas-de-Calais Eve Gilles (left), celebrates winning the title with Miss France 2023, Indira Ampiot (R), on stage during the Miss France 2024 beauty pageant in Dijon, central-eastern France, on December 16

Asked if she thought beauty contests were in themselves dated, Eve replied: 'My answer is that if it's cheesy, then why do so many people continue to watch?

'If it's corny, why do so many girls keep showing up? This is a huge opportunity for us. For me, Miss France also embodies a part of feminism. These are young women who decided themselves to take part.'

Angry comments on Twitter/X included: 'She doesn't look anything like a Miss France', and 'We don't care about her haircut but the ­androgynous body is obviously there to serve as woke'.

However,critical voices were soon drowned out by a wave of support for the newly crowned Miss France.

One fan wrote: 'Maybe the new #MissFrance isn't gorgeous in your eyes, but seeing wokeism in her because she has short hair.... It's just ridiculous.'

Another added: 'Eve Gilles is the new Miss France 2024, your malicious and useless criticisms won't change that, she's sublime.'

'Eve Gilles isn't even trans, has never claimed to be trans, but half of the comments about her are transphobic because she has short hair,' a third said.

Eve Gilles is seen performing during theMiss France 2024 beauty pageant in Dijon

MP Sandrinne Rousseau also came to Ms Gilles' defence and said: 'So, in France, in 2023, we measure the progress of respect for women by the length of their hair?'

Another MP, Karima Delli, wrote: 'Big support for Ève Gilles, #MissFrance2024, in the face of hateful tweets on social networks of incredible violence!

'Swallow your venom, she is not only superb, Miss Nord pas de Calais is intelligent in embracing her diversity!'

Speaking after Eve's win, the Mayor of Quaëdypre toldFrance Bleu: 'The whole commune is happy, seeing the reactions of all the people present at the broadcast.

Eve Gilles poses on stage in her crown and a bouquet of flowers after her win

Miss France 2024, Eve Gilles, is seen on stage during the beautypageant

'I didn't sleep much, but we'll sleep tomorrow. It's a source of pride, I'm 74 years old and it's the first time I've had a Miss in Quaëdypre.'

Miss France organisers also hailed the choice as a victory for the kind of diversity the contest has been striving for in the face of feminist attacks since the 1970s.

Last year it opened the contest to transgender women, but maintained the 5ft 7in height qualification. During their 12-month reign as Miss France, winners are not allowed to gain weight, display tattoos or – crucially – change their hairstyle.

Miss France Eve Gilles says she was 'body shamed' in swimwear round (2024)
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