Missing You


The first men to spend a winter in Antarctica were so desperate for feminine society that they organized a “beauty contest” among the illustrations in a Paris journal. Icebound in the Bellinghausen Sea in 1898, the men of the Belgian research ship Belgica numbered 464 magazine pictures, “illustrating women famous for graces of form and manner, and public notoriety,” and for each of its members the group chose the woman “most suitable for his welfare, happiness, etc.” They also awarded a “prize of honor” to the most beautiful woman:


The rules say that hydrographer Georges Lecointe, “Minister of the Land of Beautiful Women,” planned to send the awards to the women themselves when the ship reached port. I don’t know whether this ever happened. “The presentation of the prizes is conditional upon the later appearance of the woman before the committee to exhibit the parts for which ballot has been cast, not for re-examination, but to obtain an official photograph.”

(From Cook’s Through the First Antarctic Night, 1900.)