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Digital beauties vie to displace Sophia Loren

Milan, Nov. 5 (Reuters): The movie star Sophia Loren may have been the icon of 20th-century Italian beauty but times have changed and now she’s being challenged for her crown by virtual divas in the first “Miss Digital World” competition.

A new beauty contest kicking off in Italy next week will give pixel-perfect pin-ups the chance to steal sultry Sophia’s sex-symbol status. “Miss Digital World” is the first beauty contest reserved for the likes of videogame heroine Lara Croft, computer-cloned actresses from the Matrix films and new beauties tweaked to perfection with 3D graphics.

Digital artists, advertising agencies and videogame programmers from around the world have been asked to send a computer design of their perfect woman to www.missdigitalworld.com, complete with date of birth and body measurements.

“Every age has its ideal of beauty, and every age produces its visual incarnation of that ideal from the Venus de Milo in ancient Greece to Marilyn Monroe in the 1960s,” Franz Cerami, creator of the competition, said.

“Miss Digital World is the search for a contemporary ideal of beauty, seen through virtual reality,” he said.

Designers will programme their contestants to parade along a virtual catwalk, and there will be a virtual presenter and virtual guests who will help create the atmosphere of a beauty contest.

The winner will be crowned at a flesh-and-blood conference in November 2004 and Cerami hopes the digital queen will go on to greater things with roles in videogames, virtual reality films and adverts. But beware those who think beauty need only be screen-deep. The virtual world has its ethical rules too.

“They should not have taken part — not even as extras or cameos — in pornographic films, shows or plays nor have made statements...in any way out of tune with the moral spirit of the competition,” organisers said.

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