It was a night for unnatural beauties.
Contestants showed off breast implants, nose jobs and face lifts as Miss Plastic Hungary 2009 strove to promote the benefits of plastic surgery in a country where artificial enhancements are viewed mostly with a wary eye.
"I think this competition is long overdue," said photographer Marton Szipal, one of the pageant judges. "Hungarians used to laugh about plastic surgery but it's time for Hungarian women to care more about their appearance. They are the most beautiful in Europe."
Plastic surgeon Dr. Tamas Rozsos said the pageant is also meant to show that cosmetic corrections did not necessarily have to be about oversized breasts, bulbous lips and skin stretched to near tearing point.
"This about restoring harmony ... eliminating asymmetries and giving women the opportunity to have normal features," Rozsos said. "Plastic surgery has a bad reputation in Hungary but its mostly due to the exaggerations."
Despite Hungary having been hit hard by the global economic crisis with the government forced to scale back spending on health services, Rozsos said that the number of surgeries had been rising year by year.
"People for whom this is important always find the money," Rozsos said.
‘A perfect harmony’
To qualify for the pageant, the 18 Hungarian residents had to prove they'd gone fully under the knife — mere Botox or collagen injections did not count. Nearly all the contestants showed off augmented breasts, with reshaped noses also popular. One finalist had surgically adjusted toes.
Organizers claimed contestants were expected to show "a perfect harmony of body and soul," but the three-part pageant concentrated almost exclusively on the women's physical attributes and the usually conspicuous wishes for world peace went missing.
Miss Plastic candidates were at least 18 years old and included a former rhythmic gymnast, a firefighter married to a police officer, a mother of three and several strippers. There was a special category for women over 30.
Pageant queen Reka Urban, a 22-year-old hostess, won an apartment in Budapest, first runner-up Edina Kulcsar was given a new car and second runner-up Alexandra Horvath took home diamond jewelry worth $10,800. The winners' plastic surgeons also received awards.