From Iceland — We Don't Know How To Feel About Iceland's Miss Universe Costume

We Don’t Know How To Feel About Iceland’s Miss Universe Costume

Published November 20, 2017

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Arna Ýr's Instagram

Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir, who will be representing Iceland at the Miss Universe pageant this weekend, shared this photo of her premiere costume on Instagram yesterday.

How cool is my "National Custome" !!!! It was such an honor to wear this Viking Warrior custome on stage tonight. Designed by the amazing @kirstenregalado thank you so much Kirsten ❤️ All my love and thanks to @manuelaosk and @pageantsmart for letting my dream come true and help me with everything! You are family ❤️ • #missuniverseiceland #missuniverseiceland2017 #missiceland #roadtomissuniverse #shadeselftanner #phlasvegas #planethollywood

A post shared by ARNA YR (@arnayr) on

As those who follow the pageant may know, contestants typically debut in costumes that reflect the cultural heritage of their country of origin, often with great artistic license. Arna Ýr’s costume is no exception.

Iceland was indeed prominent in the Viking Age, both in terms of pillaging and exploration. Recent archaeological evidence has also revealed that at least one Viking warrior was a woman.

In addition, though, as the announcer says in the video at the bottom of this article (at 29:03) (video’s deleted, sorry), the costume is also purportedly “channeling the spirit of strong, Viking women”, replete with battery-powered axe that lights up and garments comprised in part of fish skin.

The costume is fun, doesn’t take itself too seriously, but at the same time makes a nod to both Iceland’s past and its present day. But there may also be a more subtle messaging involved here: in particular, with the headpiece.

The aim of this costume was clearly not historical accuracy, but the inclusion of an animal’s skull on the headpiece does make one wonder if this is a reference to the nithing pole, an ancient way of placing a curse on someone that involves placing the head of a sheep or calf on top of a pole, and planting it in the ground, with the animal’s head facing the object of your hatred.

If a nithing pole reference was indeed the point of this headpiece, it naturally raises the question: to whom is the curse directed? The other contestants? The pageant itself? Somebody only Arna Ýr knows? We can only speculate.

Regardless, the costume is definitely unforgettable, and encompasses many elements of Iceland: not too serious, a bit ostentatious, but certainly and assuredly proud.

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