Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 703–718 | Cite as

Accessing Womanhood: Jenna Talackova and the Marking of a Beauty Queen

  • Emily R. Tamilin
  • Margaret M. QuinlanEmail author
  • Benjamin R. Bates
Original Paper


In March 2012, Jenna Talackova was disqualified from the Miss Universe Canada pageant on the grounds that she was not a “naturally-born” female. Following this decision, Talackova and the media contested her exclusion, and Miss Universe allowed her to compete. This manuscript examines the ways that Talackova’s gender performance challenges notions of who can compete as a “true” woman while it simultaneously supports cisnormative understandings of the constitution of preferred womanhood. In their framing, media outlets articulate three markers of preferred womanhood: bodily markers, legal markers, and beauty markers. These three themes situate access to womanhood as contingent upon physical and legal markings, thereby using the narrative about Talackova to both challenge and reify gender norms.


Gender performance Public narrative Transgender Feminine gender roles Marked bodies Cisnormative 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest exists for any of the authors.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

No informed consent was needed because human subjects were not involved.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily R. Tamilin
    • 1
  • Margaret M. Quinlan
    • 2
    Email author
  • Benjamin R. Bates
    • 3
  1. 1.Council for Children’s RightsCharlotteUSA
  2. 2.Department of Communication StudiesUniversity of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA
  3. 3.School of CommunicationOhio UniversityAthensUSA

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