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Feminists filled the street outside central London club Movida last night to protest against the Miss London University final.

Activists and passers-by danced and chanted as the audience queued to see women graded against each other.

Forty years since the Miss World pageants began in the US, the protesters marched from universities across London to challenge the narrow standards of beauty such contests uphold.

The demonstration remained energetic until late in the evening, prompting a bouncer to observe that the protest looked more fun than the pageant inside.

Unlike the contentious and prolonged university-based rounds last year, the contest this year went straight to the final event.

Clare Solomon, recently elected president of the University of London Union, said "They haven't been able to hold their rounds this year because we protested outside every event in 2009. We will demonstrate outside every event until they can't hold them any more."

Miss University London ProtestThe entertainment company 121 has been running the events since 2006.

The contests have enjoyed less campus publicity this year after successful campaigning by feminist groups to win motions in students' unions not to endorse the event.

Christian Emile, the founder of 121 claims that the events are 'empowering' for the women who take part.

But Laura Harvey, a student from London said "We're not attacking the women taking part in the event, but beauty pageants aren't just a bit of 'harmless fun' - they teach women to judge ourselves as a selection of 'assets' which are in need of constant improvement"

Echoing the chants of the first feminists who stormed the Miss World contests in the 1960s, blogger Laurie Penny said "We're not here because we're beautiful, we're not here because we're ugly, we're here because we're angry!"


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