Under Mikhail Gorbachev, many things began to change in the country. It could be called an imitation period. In addition to removing the ban on beauty pageants, his appointment heralded a new era of social freedom in the USSR. The first beauty contest in the USSR was a sensation.
The Soviet Union banned beauty pageants in 1959, so there were no scantily clad ladies or cheeky fashions. The Soviet Union’s first official beauty contest, ‘Moscow Beauty 1988’, was held at the Luzhniki Palace of Sports in Soviet Moscow and created a sensation for the whole world. German Fashion, Burda Modern sponsored the contest, and Mrs Burda was an honorable jury member. Organizers of the event refused to abide by all the standards and allowed girls of all shapes and sizes to compete. Russian girls found immediate admirers among film producers, fashion photographers, foreign investors, and fashion designers. It was not uncommon at that time to see millions of TV viewers watching girls in swimsuits marching on stage, girls whose moral values were well below public standards; girls more associated with prostitution than beauty queens taking part in beauty contests.
A teenage schoolgirl Masha Kalinina won the competition. After the competition ended, Kalinina was offered a job as a model by Burdamoden, the competition’s sponsor. The girl later moved to America and enrolled in a Hollywood acting school. While Masha starred in many films, she only had a few memorable roles, so her career couldn’t be considered successful. Currently, Masha Kalinina (Maria Kalin) lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches Kundalini yoga in her studio.