by Saima Fariz
At first glance, #5 looks like the typical beauty pageant contestant; a picture perfect smile that never seems to fade, a thick layer of makeup covering every inch of her face, and little to no clothing at all that glitters under the blinding stage lights. The only things that set #5 apart from the rest of the women on stage are an enormous crown and a sash that reads “Miss Global 2013.”
Thirty-seven contestants participated in the first annual Miss Global Beauty Pageant on Saturday, Aug. 3 at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, donning itty-bitty bikinis and evening gowns for over two hours.
What convinced many people to pay the $125 per ticket was the way in which the beauty pageant marketed itself – as a multicultural event focused on promoting intelligence and diversity. Miss Global offered women an “empowering platform that advocates for cultural diversity while simultaneously endorsing a united humanitarian effort,” according to a press release.
On paper, it seemed as if the more superficial aspects of pageantry which have often tainted its reputation – most recently when Miss Utah’s fumbling attempt at speech at the Miss USA pageant went viral on the internet – wouldn’t be as prevalent in Miss Global.
But an event centered on the idea of empowering women still primarly showcased their super-slim bikini-clad bodies while largely leaving contestants nameless and voiceless.
The male audience members cheered throughout each competition, but there was a lot of confusion among the women in the crowd.
A female member of the audience could clearly be heard asking “Is this a joke?” before walking out of the auditorium halfway through the final competition.
The 11-member panel of judges included personalities from the pageant community, but what outraged many was the inclusion of Jake Pavelka, star of ABC’s “The Bachelor.”
“A man that’s used to picking and choosing women is supposed to appreciate my daughter and make her feel beautiful? Yeah, this is most definitely empowering,” scoffed a mother of one of the contestants, who asked to remain anonymous.
Yet the highlight of the show came right before the winner was crowned, when the remaining five contestants were all asked to answer a question each.
Miss India (#17), a 26-year-old registered nurse, said her certification was her most prized possession.
“I became a RN [registered nurse] when I was 20 and every time I look at [the certificate], I remember all the hard work I had to put in to get it,” she beamed.
For the first time during the show, everyone in the audience cheered for aforementioned reasons of empowerment; she was a successful and intelligent woman rather than just a pretty face.
As in other beauty pageants, small awards were handed out to the group as a whole before announcing the winner.
Miss Congeniality was awarded to Russia (#26), Miss Fitness to Australia (#2), Miss Talent to Vietnam (#37), and Miss Fashion to Egypt (#12).
Yet Miss Canada (#5) would take the crown and title of Miss Global 2013.
The night ended with women from all walks of life banding around the winner for photographs as confetti flew across the stage.
Although the parting image was hopeful, it also delivered the message that Miss Global was not able to effectively convey: a definition of beauty still in the process of broadening.