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The Buzz Cut: The Beauty Pageant Judge Who ‘De‑Crowned’ Mrs. Sri Lanka For Being Divorced Got Arrested

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Apr 10, 2021

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Image Credit: Getty

In The Buzz Cutwe bring you a round-up of all the weird, controversial, and wonderful stories we’ve been reading all week.


Chaos reigned at a Sri Lankan beauty pageant this week. One of the judges, the reigning Mrs. World, decrowned the winner of Mrs. Sri Lanka on learning she might be divorced; the competition rules disallowed divorced women from participating. But her eagerness has landed her in trouble: she now faces ‘assault’ charges by the government for pulling the crown too hard. What does Mrs. Sri Lanka, the woman at the center of the controversy, have to say? “I can forgive, but not forget.”

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2021 is the year when billions of bugs called cicadas are due to resurface in parts of America. Their routine seclusion lasts almost two decades: they spend 17 years burrowed in the ground and come up for air briefly to mate and die afterward — their arrival has been likened to the “biggest party of 2021,” a last hurrah of sorts. While their biological history has fascinated people endlessly, this time the dominant sentiment amongst humans seems to be that of envy: “Would that we, too, could be freed from our pandemic prison by a simple change in the weather.”

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Before cheap data rates and cheaper smartphones, Indians preferred missed calls to texting: it was shorthand for ‘I’m here,’ or ‘call me back.’ While companies took inspiration from this once-loved hack and devised versatile strategies, the call-and-hang-up model is now thought to be an obsolete step in India’s technology revolution. However, the true legacy of missed calls — which came to be associated with cricket updates, election campaigns, awareness campaigns — is the $94 million industry it spawned.

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The story of a woman reminded of her now called-off wedding from social media pinpoints towards something sinister: the pernicious ways in which apps co-opt memories, “madly deploying them to boost engagement and make a buck off nostalgia.” She posits the big tech’s plan to push digital histories that are incessant, intrusive, and painful to revisit; all while tracing the origin and end of her relationship. The absurdity is simple: what if somebody doesn’t want to remember? “I spent years drafting a technical blueprint for the relationship,” she reflects, “one that I couldn’t delete when the construction plans fell apart.”

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In 2019, India inaugurated an infrastructural project in Kashi, which wanted to connect the storied, pilgrimage town of Varanasi to visitors. But the change — nay, development — displaced thousands of people, dilapidated houses and local structures, and now threatens to erase local history. Residents bear witness to a cultural and identity shift, and find themselves wondering: “To those who come to Banaras, I ask—do you come here looking for a theme park or a temple?”

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What do Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, and Robert De Niro have in common? They recently featured in a rather mysterious ad campaign, with coordinated messages and serene faces, that promotes a $1.25 billion-valued wellness brand called Delos. The story of the underlying company is intriguing: Delos started at Wall Street, made a stop at the Clinton Foundation, detoured through China, and ended up in the U.S.; and now their wellness seal wants to be the face of good health in a virus-filled world. J.Lo and friends seem to promise “that if we trust the seal, all can be right again,” but we wouldn’t be too sure.

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We’re at the stage where fashion influencers can help with the pandemic. The ‘vaccine outfit‘ — a quirky ensemble that is just right for someone’s big Covid19 jab day — is rising up in importance intrigue. Shopping sites are dedicating sections to ‘vaccine-ready’ clothing options, helping people find the right sartorial symbol to earmark a hopeful day. The decision between puffed sleeves or cropped checkered print tops is less about styling and looks more about the overall aesthetic they represent;. Sample this: someone chose a leopard-print top because it helped them feel powerful.

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Anar Sabit, an ethnic Kazakh from China, built a new life in Canada after relocating from Xinjiang in 2014 — the same time the politics in her homeland worsened in its impact. She returned three years later when her father died and found a changed country — one that rushed to detain her in “educational camps”; as a Kazakh, Xinjiang’s political and religious turbulence perched on alleged human rights violations against Uyghurs and her community in China. She escaped in October 2019, and now recollects the trauma and pathos that comes with fighting an invisible fight.

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Written By Saumya Kalia

Saumya Kalia is Culture Editor at The Swaddle. Her journalism and writing explore issues of social justice, digital sub-cultures, media ecosystem, literature and memory as they cut across socio-cultural periods. You can reach her at @Saumya_Kalia.

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