The truth about beauty pageants

It’s official. Leila Lopes of Angola is the most beautiful woman in the universe. Leila Lopes is also the second black African woman and the fourth black woman to be so named. She follows the path carved by Janelle Commissiong of Trinidad and Tobago, Wendy Fitzwilliam of Trinidad and Tobago and Mpule Kwelagobe of Botswana.

Even without the crown and the likes of the Donald Trump Organisation breathing down her neck, that’s a lot of weight to carry around. And while there have been many good things said about Leila Lopes winning the title, “Her win dispelled cynicism about the Miss Universe pageant being racist and serving a singular ‘beauty standard’.” (The Christian Post), you would not believe some of the drivel that has been spewed.

According to Premiere.fr , Miss France, Laury Thilleman, has decried Miss Angola’s unpleasant behaviour, her lack of personality and her questionable fashion taste. “Her declaration started with the complaint that Lopes was not sociable. ‘She was the only girl I didn’t know very well. We didn’t see her much.’ Then she criticized her looks. ‘She was often in jeans and not wearing makeup. We were all surprised by her win.’” Continuing the criticism, Miss France opined that many other contestants worked harder and were not rewarded as they should have been.  “I don’t know, something is missing in her temperament,” she said of the new Miss Universe.

Now I am not so sure about cynicism surrounding the Miss Universe pageant being dispelled, but Miss France has certainly confirmed that the pageant is not the ‘wonderful experience made new friends’ event that successive returning Guyana representative have made it out to be.

Put 80-something people together for a week in a competition – any gender, any competition – and there’s bound to be hostility. They will not all get along. Put 80-something beautiful women together who each believe they have the right to win the Miss Universe title… it can’t be all sweetness and light. These women, as Miss France said, work hard to get to the world stage and once there they work even harder. They must ensure that they are noticed by photographers, the international press, the scouts looking for models, in short anyone or anything that will put them out there; give them the edge over their peers. Oh yes, they will appear to be all smiling and getting along. But the fact is that these hard workers — particularly those from countries that would have won before – and who feel pressured to win or at least give a good showing, are going to put niceness second and themselves first. Why do you think pageants give an award for congeniality? It’s difficult to come by.

That is why it has been and will continue to be close to impossible for Miss Guyana to get into the top 5, 10 or 16. Without exception, each representative from these shores has left here at a disadvantage – lack of preparation, lack of funds, lack of support from her people.

Unless we get it right we will never be able to buck the trend. Now if the current Miss Guyana was at all close to Miss France, maybe, just maybe we will hear the real story behind this glitzy affair.
(thescene@stabroeknews.com)

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