With a title like “Badass Beauty Queen” one would expect this to be the title of some fast-paced action flick set in the world of Beauty Pageants. However, it is actually the title of an incredibly inspirational and thought-provoking documentary about a young woman who took on an entire governmental regime. The Badass Beauty Queen that the documentary is named after is Miss Canada, Anastasia Lin who was set to represent the country at the Miss World Pageant in Sanya, China in 2015. Lin, who has been outspoken about China’s appalling human-rights record, was declared ‘persona non grata’ by the Chinese authorities preventing her from gaining access to the country.
Lin saw the 2015 pageant as her opportunity to speak on a global stage about a topic close to heart: the Chinese Regime’s persecution of political and religious groups, and the forced organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience. However, her outspokenness led to her father (who still lives in China) being subjected to investigation by the government which eventually led to him losing his business. As mentioned, Lin’s attempt to enter the country saw her being denied access, and this only increased her presence in the media, and she ended up being reported in outlets such as The New York Times, as well as appearing on CNN and articles in Der Spiegel, Cosmopolitan and other major media outlets. Despite not being able to compete in the finals that year, Anastasia became known across the globe and caught everybody’s attention.
In 2016, Lin was Invited again to represent Canada at the Miss World Finals, which were this time held in Washington D.C.However, Anastasia was subjected to silence yet again by the Miss World organization, a British corporation with numerous Chinese business ties. Discovering this information is deeply troubling as it would indicate that there is a political bias at play here. During the pageant, press clamored for interviews while Anastasia faced increased pressure as her father’s situation worsened. Prevented by the Miss World organization from going to the media to shine a spotlight on the persecution, which had become the only way to protect her father, Anastasia contemplated dropping out of the pageant. Anastasia put everything, including her father’s safety and a chance at the crown, on the line to stay true to her conscience.
“Lin is an inspirational young woman, who is bold and daring proving that she is more than just a pretty face. Many viewers can take away something from her character and her determination.”
“Badass Beauty Queen” is directed by Theresa Kowall-Shipp and Lin’s story is told by herself, along with her supporters, her friends, and family. The behind-the-scenes footage and interviews help to go beyond the headlines, and the only slight criticism is the length of the documentary which is a slim 65 minutes. It’s a shame that this documentary isn’t longer as I was left wanting more because Lin’s story is such an interesting one. It is also a shame that nobody from the Miss World Organization decided to comment, and we are informed that the filmmakers repeatedly reached out to the organization but they declined to comment.
This thought-provoking documentary is a fascinating insight into the world of activism and globalization, but is also a complex drama of self-discovery as we follow Lin on her journey. Lin is an inspirational young woman, who is bold and daring proving that she is more than just a pretty face. Many viewers can take away something from her character and her determination, and Lin is truly an inspiration to young girls everywhere. It will be interesting to see whether Lin and Kowall-Shipp decided to do a follow-up documentary on Lin’s struggles and her fight for justice for not just her father and family but the countless others who suffer in silence.