The Best Female Contestant of 2018 is not the one who trained and rehearsed within an inch of her life to win her crown. Neither is she the first from her country to finally win her crown. As a matter of fact, the Best Female Contestant of 2018 did not even make the semi-finals of her pageant.
The Best Female Contestant of 2018 is probably the most maligned and bullied pageant contestant ever. The reason for that was the fact that she decided to follow her childhood dream and make use of an opportunity made available to her since 2012. The Best Female Contestant of this year is Angela Ponce, Miss Universe Spain 2018.
Despite unending attack on social media, especially from Latin American pageant followers, Angela never wavered on her road to Miss Universe. When she finally arrived at the concentration in Thailand, she was in our opinion the most elegant contestant. She made many friends among her fellow contestants and in all her pictures she could be seen to be enjoying her Miss Universe journey.
Angela was able to get her message to people who would probably never dream of watching or following a beauty pageant. She got a full page interview in Time Magazine, a medium that hardly ever covers anything to do with beauty competitions.
Even media hog Caitlyn Jenner tried to hop on the Angela Ponce bandwagon, in a failed attempt to regain some prominence. Angela will be remembered by the citizens of the world, when most will have forgotten who ever won the 2018 Miss Universe pageant.
As Angela herself said, she did not need the win the Miss Universe crown, she only needed to be there. Despite all the attacks, she was and competing with elegance, style and grace. That is why for us she is the Best Female Contestant of 2018.
Following the abrupt departure of Osmel Sousa from his position as President the Miss Venezuela Organisation, the organisation appears to have lost its course.
A scandal, involving former contestants and winners and their sexual favours erupted.
Then it was announced that a committee, rather than a person, would be placed in charge of the most renowned, and maligned, national pageant organisation in the world. Before that committee could even hold its first press conference, it was fired.
After that came the news that a new Executive Committee for the Miss Venezuela Organisation had been appointed consisting of three former international titleholders, one for each of the three major international beauty pageants. Former Miss International, Nina Sicilia, former Miss World, Jacqueline Aguilera, and former Miss Universe, Gabriela Isler, would take the reigns, each with a specific area of responsibility.
In the mean time there had been radio silence about and from the three winners of 2017, all supposedly preparing to compete in 2018.
This all changed with the appearance of some very nice photos of Sthefany Gutierrez, Miss Venezuela at Miss Universe 2018. Image Director Jacqueline Aguilera was quick to point out that those were not official pictures and were made without the permission of the organisation. The Image Director may have been well in her right to admonish the beauty queen, but that should have taken place behind close doors and not as the first social media interaction between the organisation and its wards.
Furthermore, those were the last great pictures of Sthefany. Subsequent “official” pictures, sanctioned most probably by the Image Director, have not been up to the usual Miss Venezuela standards and not even of the same quality as the unauthorised images. Truth be told, lifestyle images on Instagram are of better quality that anything sanctioned by the Three Divas Executive Committee (“TDEC”).
The faux pas’ of the TDEC did not end there though. Now comes the Veruska Debacle. When Veruska Ljubisavljevic was crowned Miss Venezuela World last year, it was a public secret that she had aged out of competing in 2018. Nevertheless she continued with her preparations and was actually the only one of last year’s queens to get a hair and make-up make-over. So it was assumed that the age issue had been dealt with, with Mrs. Julia Morley.
One day before the presentation of the contestants for the 2018 Miss Venezuela pageant, Veruska issued a statement on social media stating that she would be competing in Miss World 2018, odd for someone whose participation had not been formally put in doubt.
The next day the TDEC announced that the new Miss Venezuela, to be selected on September 12, would only be competing in Miss World 2018. Miss Venezuela Universe and Miss Venezuela International 2017 will compete in the 2018 editions of their international pageants, but not Veruska.
The reason? Supposedly, Mrs. Julia Morley who has once again demanded a separately selected winner and also one selected in the year of the international competition. Oddly enough, Venezuela seems to be the only country subjected to these harsh rulings of Mrs. Morley.
Aruba, Bolivia, Panamá and South Africa, are a few of the countries who select their representatives to Miss Universe and Miss World in one national pageant, albeit all in the year of the international competition. France selects its representatives in one contest in December of each to compete internationally the next year.
We still believe that the real reason is Veruska’s age, which the organisation failed to deal with properly. In any case, throwing Veruska to the curb like the TDEX has done is another misstep in what is becoming a long line of missteps.
To top it off, considering that the Miss Venezuela pageant does not take into account the selection criteria of Miss World, we predict another lacklustre run for the new Miss Venezuela 2018 at Miss World 2018.
The trending topic in beauty pageants these days is the issue of allowing the participation of transgender women. Right now it applies specifically to the Miss Universe pageant and this discussion is one that actually started in 2001.
A rumour, started in France and which spread like wildfire at the 2001 Miss Universe contest in Puerto Rico, alleged that Miss France, Elodie Gossuin, was in fact a transgender woman. This turned out to be just that, a rumour, but it led the Miss Universe Organization to change its rules to indicate that only “naturally born women” were allowed to compete. For many years, little else was said about transgender women competing at Miss Universe or any of its national preliminaries.
The rules were changed again in 2012. Jenna Talackova, a transgender woman who had previously competed at the Miss International Queen Pageant, a transgender competition in Thailand, was denied entry into the Miss Universe Canada competition. She filed suit against the Miss Universe Organization, alleging discrimination.
The Miss Universe Pageant announced that Talackova could compete as long as she met “the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions.”
The Organization denied the change was a result of the lawsuit and Paula Shugart, President of the Miss Universe Organization, indicated that “the decision to include transgender women in our beauty competitions is a result of our ongoing discussions with GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and not Jenna’s legal representation”. Shugart stated further that the Miss Universe Organization has “a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously.”
Jenna Talackova made the semi-finals at Miss Universe Canada, but did not win the right to compete at Miss Universe. Since then, little else was said about transgender women competing at Miss Universe or any of its national pageants.
All of that changed in 2018. Hot on the tails of Ines Supa becoming the first transgender Playboy Playmate in December 2017, Talleen Abu-Hannah made headlines worldwide as the first transgender woman to compete for the title of Miss Israel.
The gorgeous Talleen was a huge favourite and was expected to become the first transgender woman to compete at Miss Universe. She made Top 4 but did not win the title of Miss Universe Israel.
Then came Angela Ponce, a successful and well-known Spanish model, who in 2015 competed for the title of Miss World Spain (at the concentration she was in fact the roommate of Mireia Lalaguna, who would go on to win the competition and later the Miss World crown).
Angela joined Miss Universe Spain 2018 and this time she did win the major price. We think that Angela made history as the first transgender woman to win the right to compete at Miss Universe (We say think because for all we know, transgender women may have already competed without anyone, or just a few, knowing).
Angela became and continues to be a trending topic worldwide and views on transgender women competing in beauty pageants conceived for cisgender women are very polarised. Various former Miss Universe and national titleholders have expressed their opposition to the opening of their pageants to transgender women (one has to wonder though, why they did not come forward when the rules were changed, or in the six years since, if their opposition is a matter of principle).
We have to ask though, what is the principle at hand? That depends on how you view beauty pageants. Are they a competition or a, rather elaborate, job application process?
As a competition, a beauty pageant is an inherently discriminatory activity because it is not open to everyone. Furthermore, it is a discriminatory activity that we have accepted for many decades. On top of that, groups that were excluded adapted by creating their own, exclusive competitions.
Opening up a competition to one of those excluded groups, does not make it less discriminatory, just more inclusive. The door is still open for another excluded group to challenge its right to participate. Unless you open that competition to everyone, it will always remain discriminatory.
The Miss Universe Pageant started because one Miss America refused to model Catalina swimwear. Catalina then decided to create another process through which to select a spokesmodel and hence Miss Universe was born. This makes the contest in fact a job application process. Like in every job application, rules were set by the organisation creating that job.
We know that all of us do not fill the requirements to apply for the job of CEO of a multinational corporation and we would not feel discriminated by this fact.
We also know that we do not all meet the conditions to apply for the job of Miss Universe. Are we justified in feeling discriminated by that fact?
What do you think? How do you see beauty pageants?
The real question is how do beauty pageants see themselves. Beauty pageants have become apologetic about their own nature when what they should do is define what it is they really are and what it is they want to be and act accordingly. Otherwise, the issue of discrimination in beauty pageants will continue to be a mountain with no top.
It is that time of year again when the most successful national pageant in the world, Miss Venezuela, gets underway. The unveiling of the official photos of this year’s contestants reveals the reason for the success of Osmel Sousa’s enterprise. Venezuela always manages to take the contest to new heights, this year through photography.
Miss Venezuela photographer Alejandro Lee captures the imagination which images that look made right on the (IMG) Miss Universe stage.
Everything is on point, the styling, the shoes and the retro swimsuits, which highlight the hourglass figures.
It shows the care and attention to detail that goes into the planning of the Miss Venezuela pageant and the performance of their winners internationally.
Regretfully, most national pageants chose to hate rather than emulate the Miss Venezuela Organization. Yet, nothing succeeds like success!
Another welcome deviation from the Bling Wars, is this creation by Pinoy designer Mark Bumgarner. It is smashing, as it does not contain any decoration. This allows the simplicity of the material to highlight the design, a modern interpretation of a timeless classic. As worn by newly crowned Miss World Philippines 2017, it could have been a masterclass in evening gown presentation. Sadly, she chose to wear this beautiful creation with the most inappropriate footwear, cheapening the overall look.