Miss Russia's topless Playboy photos spark debate

Posted at 11/12/2012 6:07 PM | Updated as of 11/12/2012 8:00 PM

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Natalia Pereverzeva, who is representing Russia in this year’s Miss Earth pageant, has become the most talked about contestant in the beauty tilt – but not all for the right reasons.

Netizens are wondering if the 24-year-old Russian should be allowed to continue in the pageant after it was discovered that she had posed in the Russian edition of men’s magazine Playboy last year.

Even her fellow candidates are discussing the issue.

Pereverzeva, then sporting blonde hair, was the cover girl of the Russian Playboy’s May 2011 issue. While the cover had her hands covering her nipples, the inside pages included photos of her completely topless with full double-breast exposure. Another photo showed her wearing a bra but not panties with her hand covering her private parts – although this made her look like she was pleasuring herself.

“If you’ve been living under a rock for the past two years, chances are her sizzling photos in the May 2011 issue of Playboy (Russian Edition) might have escaped your peering eyes. Otherwise, her topless and almost nude pictures would’ve already found its way to a folder in your laptop’s hard drive,” blogger Norman wrote.

“Natalia Pereverzeva posed for PLAYBOY MAGAZINE, I do not think so that she will be allowed to participate at ME 2012. What a shame!! Such a strong contestant,” wrote Reyna_USA, the global moderator of the Pageant-Mania website.

“Bad, bad Natalia. This means the end of your reign. Pity!” commented Desi on BeautyMania.biz, another website devoted to beauty pageants.

Pereverzeva kept mum about the topless photos when asked by ABS-CBN News. "I don’t think that’s a good question for Miss Earth. Real beauty should be not only natural beauty but the beauty should come from the inside," she said.

But her fellow candidates were more open to discuss the issue.

"I am not going to do Playboy magazine cover but I have no problem with the bikini shoot and to the girls doing it, I’ll just say thumbs up," said Miss India Prachi Mishra.

For Miss Costa Rica Fabiana Granados, "Bikini, normal. Playboy, no."

"Nudity is a different thing but when it comes to presenting your body as a healthy lifestyle and being fit and well, then that’s appropriate," commented Miss Belize Jessel Lauriano.

"Everybody deserves a chance irrelevant of the past and people should be taken for what they are at the moment and not for what they’ve been," said Miss Scotland Sarah Pendar.

This isn’t the first time a beauty contestant has found herself in hot water because of her sexy photos. In 1984, Vanessa Williams gave up her Miss America title after men’s magazine Penthouse published her nude photos.

On the other hand, Valerie Begue, Miss France 2008, was allowed to retain her crown despite a photo showing her in a crucifix pose while in a bikini surfaced, although she didn't move on to the international competition.

In the Philippines, model Sandra Seifert was disqualified from the Binibining Pilipinas pageant because she posed in a bikini on the men’s magazine FHM two years before. Then later that year, Seifert joined the Miss Earth pageant and was even crowned Miss Earth Air.

“I know that Carousel Productions is relatively more lenient in matters like posing for men’s magazines (remember Sandra Seifert?), but Natalia pushed the envelope a little further in this case,” blogger Norman noted.

Indeed, organizers of the Miss Earth contest came to the defense of the Russian beauty, saying Pereverzeva did not violate moral standards.

They also said Pereverzeva’s Playboy pictorial was not as daring as the Playboy spread of another European contest who was not allowed to participate in the pageant.

We cannot enforce our own cultural standards on candidates from other countries. Since Miss Earth is a global endeavor, Miss Russia was chosen through a legitimate official process in her country," Lorraine Schuck, Miss Earth executive vice president, said in a statement.

Pereverzeva is among the favorites of this year’s contest, especially because of her clear environmental advocacy – to save the remaining 400 tigers in her home country. – Report from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News