LAS VEGAS — The Miss Universe pageant is weeks away, but before any of the contenders can spark headlines with their answers to politically tinged questions, a new photo shoot for the pageant — featuring some of the contestants topless — is raising eyebrows.
On Monday, at the Las Vegas shoot where Access Hollywood was exclusively behind the scenes, Miss Trinidad & Tobago's LaToya Woods said she expected the photo shoot to be attention-grabbing.
"It's definitely going to raise some [eye]brows, but what's important is that I am comfortable," the beauty told Access. "This is my body and I feel liberated doing this."
LaToya added that she thinks it was a great decision to have the shoot.
"You know that saying, 'Bad publicity is good publicity?' It's going to be good," she said.
AH Nation Poll: Some of the Miss Universe contestants went topless for official pageant photos. What do you think?
Miss USA, Rima Fakih, posed without her top, but with her back to the camera for her shot.
"There [were] options and we were all asked what we feel comfortable with and I told them that I feel comfortable with beauty," she said.
The women were covered in body paint for the shoot and Miss USA was pleased with her pose.
"For me, I like to do the back, I didn't want to do the front for many reasons and one of them being [an issue of] respect," she said. "I'm Arab, I'm Muslim, and I didn't want to disappoint many people."
Miss USA cupped her breasts and bared just her back, while Miss Japan Maiko Itai used her arm to shield her nudity. The latter lady actually passed out after standing up for two hours while being painted in the Las Vegas heat for the shoot.
Miss Haitii, Sarodj Bertin, joined many of the contestants who opted out of the topless option, wearing a bikini and body paint.
Interestingly, she said her mother was a candidate for the Haitian presidency before her murder in 1995. She told Access Hollywood she admires Wyclef Jean, who is currently running for President of the island nation, as a singer, but had different feelings about who should be her nation's president.
"Now politically talking, I believe my country needs someone that knows the problem of Haiti, someone that has studied the society, studied the history," she said.