The Most Beautiful Woman in the World

I was at the dentist’s office the other day and came across an issue of People magazine. On the cover was a picture of singer Beyoncé Knowles, along with the headline “World’s Most Beautiful Woman!

I was surprised, shocked, stunned, stupefied – and many other ‘S’ words. Beyoncé, the most beautiful woman in the world? Don’t get me wrong. Beyoncé is indeed a beautiful woman, but I thought that everyone agreed that Aishwarya Rai is the most beautiful woman in the world.

Indeed, when an Indian men’s magazine recently asked its website’s visitors “Is Aishwarya Rai the most beautiful woman in the world?” only one percent clicked on the response “No, she isn’t.” Everyone else – a whopping 99 percent – chose the response: “Yes, she is. Continue to free pics of Beyoncé.”

Despite such overwhelming evidence, People magazine decided to name Beyoncé the world’s most beautiful woman. I had no choice but to call the editor of People and get to the bottom of this.

Me: “Is Beyoncé really the world’s most beautiful woman?”

Editor: “Yes, that’s what we believe.”

Me: “Did you tell Aishwarya Rai?”

Editor: “The Bollywood actress? No, we didn’t tell her. But we informed her agent and he’s breaking the news to her gently.”

Me: “Was it because you thought that Aishwarya had gained some weight? You may have heard that some Indian publications are calling her FAT, but trust me, they are just using an acronym for ‘fit and trim.'”

Editor: “You’re kidding!”

Me: “It’s true. Many people who are FAT in India would be considered ‘fit and trim’ in America. Aishwarya is actually quite slim. I’m sure you already know this, but she won the Miss World title in 1994, was named most beautiful woman in the world by none other than Julia Roberts, and is still considered the most beautiful woman in the world by 99 percent of Indian men taking an online survey, as verified by the independent accounting firm of Ash, Warrior & Rye.”

Editor: “That’s impressive, but it really wouldn’t have affected our choice of Beyoncé. We looked at hundreds of photos of beautiful women from around the world and Beyoncé just stood out – she has this special quality.”

Me: “Yes, I know she has a special quality, but I thought you looked at these women only from the front.”

Editor: “We did! We try to focus on beauty, not booty. All of us – my staff and I – agreed that Beyoncé is the world’s most bootiful … I mean, beautiful woman this year.”

Me: “What about last year?”

Editor: “In 2011, the world’s most beautiful woman was Jennifer Lopez.”

Me: “Did you tell Aishwarya?”

Editor: “No, we didn’t tell her. But we informed her father-in-law, Amitabh Bachchan, and he tweeted his three million followers to visit every magazine rack in America and draw a mustache on J-Lo’s cover photo.”

Me: “So he took it pretty well, then.”

Editor: “Yes, I suppose you could say that. By the way, do you know how I can get rid of 10,000 Bollywood DVDs that were dropped on our building from a helicopter?”

Me: “Just go to Edison Township, New Jersey, and have a sidewalk sale. What about previous years? Going back a decade or so, who did you put on your cover as the world’s most beautiful woman?”

Editor: “Julia Roberts in 2010, Christina Applegate in 2009, Kate Hudson in 2008, Drew Barrymore in 2007, Angelina Jolie in 2006, Julia Roberts again in 2005, Jennifer Aniston in 2004 and Halle Berry in 2003.”

Me: “What do you have against poor Aishwarya?”

Editor: “Nothing. We just think these other women were really beautiful. Before our ‘beauty’ issue comes out, we spend days poring over photos of beautiful women from around the world — some from as far away as Alaska!”

Me: “I’m sure your readers appreciate how much hard work you put into this important task — searching the entire world for the most beautiful woman. And somehow she always seems to turn up in America.”

Editor: “Yes, we’re quite lucky to find her right here in America.”

Me: “It doesn’t surprise me. According to the U.S. State Department, America has the world’s highest BWD (beautiful woman density) — about 25 beautiful women per square mile, slightly less in West Virginia.  You cannot walk down the street without running into a beautiful woman. Maybe that’s why Freida Pinto moved from Mumbai to  Los Angeles. She was beautiful before, but now she has a chance to be the most beautiful woman in the entire freakin’ world!”

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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