Most fans of comics, or Mad magazine, or pop culture in general know about Basil Wolverton and his famous creation, Lena the Hyena. (I put one of Wolverton's great recent books in the sidebar a little while ago.)
But did you know that Lena was the result of a contest sponsored by Al Capp for his Li'l Abner newspaper strip? She took the prize from several other contenders for ugliness.
Would you set yourself on fire for beauty? According to The Inquisitr, the Fire Treatment (aka Huǒ liáo) is the hot new thing in China:
The process involves an esthetician or spa employee draping target areas of the face and body with alcohol and secret elixir saturated towels. The person, more specifically the towel the person is wearing, is set ablaze. Moments later the towel is extinguished. The fiery beauty regime is supposedly based off ancient Chinese medicine. The dangerous treatment is intended to eliminate dull skin, aid in the common cold, and revert obesity.
Reach the ancient heart of the stygian obscurity
Wherein all the names of mine are written
In pits profound,where festered dreams sigh
And longings scorched seek reason to return.
Admire the flame flowered mansions arcane
The sulfurous secrets gowned in rapture profane
Fear not the fire of all-knowing wisdom
Furiously burning with such ravishing splendour.
On the wings of my most fervent passion
Which the fools dare name blasfemia
To thee I have returned from the heart-dead sunworms domain
A coffin-shaped lair they have woven around me
For I've pledged no allegiance
To their fabulous sacred theories
Those spurious servants of a crownless king
Who holds their cross in vain.
No Phoenix phenomenon shall their fall contain!
Leave their carcasses scattered and slain!
And now I'm visualised
To blind-faithed eyes
Lofty and proud, to be recognized.
As the mourning-scented bloodstorm winds
Of their final downfall blow
Like a nightclad werewolf upon the moonlit glade
I shall hunt them down in the snow.
...and the frostbitten ground
now consumes their wretched gore
My victorious hiss fulfills the oceans ethereal
And the stars gleam nameless above
As shadows call forth the seas of Cthulhu
Be wide awake my dearest
Of my fiery necromantic kiss!
Thine arms soothing around me enfold
To cease my yearning cursed
The sweetest witchcraft thy lips do hold
Can only quench my thirst.
'Neath the enchantingly blazing corona of night
drown thy desire into mine!
With all the senses cast to a feverous grandeur
In the sins of the flesh we entwine.
The Miss America pageant has been conducted since 1921, but it's only been televised since 1954. Before then, it briefly had competition when the Miss U.S. Television contest, conducted by the DuMont Television Network, aired in 1950. Watch the full pageant at the internet archive, or a version edited for length below. It has a strange opening segment in which the contestants introduce themselves, framed by a fake TV set. Then they go on to their talent performances, some of which were truly awful. The winner was a young Edie Adams.
According to wikipedia, the Miss U.S. Television contest only took place once, but there must have been subsequent pageants that used the same title, since once can find women being crowned Miss U.S. Television in later years, such as Phyllis Maygers (below), who won the title in 1952.