A few months back, I published a post on this blog about why I joined a beauty contest. I remember typing it from my phone while I was on the road back home from Pampanga with two major competitions done.
I will be honest, it wasn’t a dream to be part of any of this unlike most of the girls in the competition. And looking back, I knew that was one of the things I lacked. True passion. I was half-hearted and I know now that when you’re competing in things like these, it pays to focus. It’s really a mind game.
But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking during my stint, actually. As much as we cry foul and look down on judgement, especially judgement on the basis of image for us women, and as much as a lot of us say that we cringe at the thought of objectification, our love for pageantry (this glamorous institution that we extol) might just make us all seem like hypocrites.
I finished as a semi-finalist in Mutya ng Pilipinas ’13 and secured a spot in Top 10. I didn’t know I’d get to make it that far, really. All these girls I was up against all had their fair share of pageant victories locally and here I was, a newbie barely getting my poses and turns right, and smiling away the pain that I felt from trying to keep my posture in check. And don’t get me started on my walk. A-w-k-w-a-r-d.
I’ve had a moment to cry, thinking to myself: “What on earth am I doing here?” And I knew, just from that question, that I was no where near prepared and my chances of getting a crown were pretty slim.
Now you’re all probably thinking: “Oh, she lost. That’s why she’s talking this way. Makes so much sense.” After that stint, there were a lot of people, my family, my boyfriend, my friends, my work mates, who were all very proud of my semi-finalist finish. Believe me, I was too! But you can’t help run into people who would say, “Hey, maybe it wasn’t for you” or “Why did you even join in the first place? You had a great career, a pretty fancy lifestyle, and you already did quite a lot of travelling” or “So, you believe that this pageant does not objectify women?” or even “What did you even have to prove? Image?”
I do not speak on behalf of all the girls associated with pageantry, it may or may not be the same for them but I knew this was an opportunity that wasn’t offered to everyone and we may even learn along the journey that maybe this industry isn’t really for us after all (depending on how we deal with stress, rejection and not being the favorite). And that’s really what I came to do, to take that chance to learn, see things from a different point of view, get to tell my children and grand children that “Hey, your mama was pretty awesome, huh? I did that. I was part of that and it was fun!” and ultimately, make a distinct mark and have that platform to make a difference.
Sure, image was a big deal. And I told girls in my batch this when I was asked about what would probably make the BEST beauty queen the Philippines and the world has ever seen: Everyone has this template of what a beauty queen should look like. Tall, morena, a proportioned face, a beautiful 10-tooth smile, the perfect nose, a hot 10 bod, a little sad story here, and a sense of charity and humility, etc. The best kind of beauty queen, in my opinion, may be all of this, but it will all be natural. The best kind of beauty queen is intelligent, well-read, and knows herself and her boundaries. She respects her God-given gifts and proves to everyone that her love for her flaws make her the best and make her stand out.
To clarify, again, I’m not saying that alterations will not make you truly beautiful. I also respect those who know and believe that confidence and love for one’s self comes from these methods. I mean, that’s why we put on make up in the first place. But the moment we look in the mirror and doubt that who we see is not who we really are, that’s when we have a problem. (*Cue in Reflection by Christina Aguilera*)
“This is who I am. I accept it and I am proud of it” is the winner’s motto. You know who you are and you stick to it. And when your true self outshines a bunch of other ladies, you best be proud of yourself.
I disliked being judged like a cover of a book. (Who does, really?) And I believed that that was the most difficult part of the whole process and the most irritating kind of basis ever. You know these judges already have that “template of the perfect beauty queen” and the moment you do your first pose down that stage, they think they’ve already figured you out from head to toe to soul. Why, I oughta!
Hay, I’ll do everyone a favor and go smack myself in the head right now. I worked in the fashion industry for Pete’s sake! Who was I to talk about how unimportant image was? Selfies, OOTDs, photographers here and there, and your self-titled lifestyle blog? How are you not dying if you hate this system so much?
I’ve always said to myself that I was there for a reason, and my reason is and will forever will be to get my advocacy into motion. Children have the right to education and should be given that chance to learn as much as they can, especially when it comes to values and morals. Because everything… actions, self-worth, bullying, friendship, family, decisions bad or good… stems from education and should be supported by society.
I’m in this because it’s reality. Because it’s this very century that is so engrossed in the ‘self’. Because it is this very world where we now identify not only material things, but also people as “brands” and “products”. Because sometimes, you need more than just sheer talent. And, because it’s probably true: first impressions stem from image (unfortunately) and this the way people classify other people. And much has been written about these, through heuristic social psychology or even the social identity theory of Henri Tajfel. I have learned to embrace it because it is through this platform, I know I can leverage myself for people to hear me out.
“When we observe nature we see what we want to see, according to what we believe we know about it at the time. Nature is disordered, powerful and chaotic, and through fear of the chaos we impose system on it. We abhor complexity, and seek to simplify things whenever we can be whatever means we have at hand.” –James Burke
Despite all the inner chaos (or in theory, Cognitive Dissonance), and everything that I felt following pageant night, all the regret I had was that I didn’t come prepared. The output of the pageant was a tired but confident 20-something eager to get her nose to the grindstone and try again, proud to have represented her hometown, and even more so to note on her resume that she took part of such competition. Having said that, if this is the kind of output ladies get all the time from joining beaucons, then I don’t see what’s wrong with it.
All they have to do is prepare.
I really hope my college professors are proud of how much I got to inject Communication Theories in life. It’s amazing.
I’m sharing a couple of photos from my run below. I thank everyone who has supported me all through out, my parents, my lolos and lolas, titos, titas, siblings, cousins, boyfriend, family friends, my colleagues, strangers, my hometown, our mayor, our governor, and the MNP institution. It is truly, one for the books.