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Official Miss Universe photos showing contestants topless, wearing nothing but body paint, are raising eyebrows.

The sexy pictures have some people questioning whether the Miss Universe pageant will be affected by the controversial shots.

“It’s alarming that this has been turned into a Playboy-esque masquerade,” said Angie Meyer, who has worked closely with the Miss USA contestants and the organization in past years. “When you bring nudity into the equation, the pageant no longer becomes about the entire package of brains and beauty. Rather, the focus shifts to body image. The notion that ‘beauty’ embodies absolute physical perfection is a frightening slippery slope, and quite dangerous for young women around the world to adhere to.”

Miss USA, Rima Fakih, who came under fire earlier this year for her stripper photos, defended the shoot, saying, “Well, I wanna say that I don’t like to think of it as posing topless. I think of it as being a model is something very artistic, and showing my beauty in a different way.

Lark-Marie Anton, vice president of marketing and public relations for the organization also responded to the controversy: “The contestants who compete at Miss Universe are diverse, as they represent more than 82 countries around the globe. Many of their cultures embrace nudity… We feel the images captured are fashionable and cutting edge!”

The Miss USA pageant also took heat a few months ago for racy promotional photos.

The 2010 Miss Universe Pageant airs Monday on NBC.

Check out the Miss Universe body paint photos below and let us know what you think. Have they gone too far?

Miss USA Rima Fakih defends photos:

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