The 15-year-old, whose late father was irrepressible Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, will critique teens and young women competing in the Australia Galaxy Pageant on the Gold Coast next month.
It’s a world away from her usual habitat at Australia Zoo, where Bindi is more likely to been seen promoting conservation in khakis and boots than sequins and stilettos.
There is, however, a link: pageant contestants win extra points if they raise money for the events’ two designated charities, one of which is the zoo’s Wildlife Warriors program.
Nevertheless, Bindi’s decision to accept the role has come under fire from critics, who say beauty pageants promote unhealthy body image and objectify women.
Dr Emma Rush, an expert in the sexualisation of children at Charles Sturt University, told aww.com.au Bindi’s new role seemed like a misfit, with bush conservation and the beauty world “bizarrely at odds” with each other.
“At the same time, if you are passionate about saving animals, you might think whatever means is a good means,” she says. “But I think this kind of thing potentially has consequences more broadly for young women and girls.
“There are positive aspects of these beauty contests, which are about public speaking and girls developing confidence, but I think we should celebrate girls for who they are rather than what they look like.”
Bindi was also embroiled in controversy recently when she signed up as ambassador for the US Sea World, which has been criticised over its treatment of whales.
Contestants aged from 13 to 29 at the Gold Coast pageant will get judged on a combination of their beauty, style, brains and philanthropy.
The event, which runs from April 10 to 12, is run by the Australian branch of US-based Galaxy International.