The Most Damaging Scandals & Controversies to Pageant Image Pt.2

This is the final part of this 2-part series. In this post we examine three of the biggest pageant scandals and controversies that hounded female pageants.

3. The Miss Earth Allegations of ‘Crown Buying’ – this was a fabricated story by some Russia-based media that spliced conversations with the ME Org head honcho Lorraine Shuck that was about a pageant sponsorship/ hosting proposal. The spliced audio/video made it look like the crown was available for ‘purchase’ when they were talking about fees and royalties in hosting/ sponsorship. Despite the allegations being proven false, the damage was done and it did make a dent in the pageant’s decade long reputation. This was all because of irresponsible media wanting to fabricate a story out of sensationalism. Nevertheless the Miss Earth pageant continues its advocacy and its working relationships with other international organizations like the United Nations regarding climate change awareness and ecology preservation.

2. The Pageant Fixing of Miss Asia Pacific World SuperTalent (not to be confused with Miss Asia Pacific Quest or Miss Asia Pacific International) – there is nothing more damaging to a pageant’s reputation than pageant fixing of the winner. But this has to be most scandalous one to ever grace the pageant scene as it opened a huge closet full of skeletons by the Korean-owned Miss Asia Pacific World Supertalent Organization. May Myat Noe’s win came with allegations of pageant fixing by the organizers and a pageant portal. It was said that it was Filipina Hillarie Parungao who was the alleged real winner of the pageant but was relegated to a runner up finish in favor of the Burmese beauty. Further phone conversation leaks was later revealed about the alleged pageant fixing that happened between the org and the pageant portal’s head correspondent.

The scandal did not end there as weeks later, the May Myat Noe ran off with the prized crown back to her country and was immediately dethroned. During the ensuing weeks mud-slinging came from both quarters as May Myat Noe accused the pageant of fixing her age on pageant forms to make her of legal age. It was later revealed that she was underage (she was still around 15 years old when she won). The pageant organizers on the other hand said that she was difficult to work with and refused to sign the contract with them and refused to fulfil her duties as winner. There was also allegations of forced breast augmentation that the 15 year old received but was said to have been requested by the winner. Add to it is the theft of the US$100,00-worth crown to which the Burmese beauty refused to return before an apology is made by the Korean-based pageant.

The controversy was so big that it dug up previous controversies that involved holding up candidates from leaving the competition (you can Google Amy Willerton and Miss Asia Pacific World Supertalent). Nowadays the pageant isn’t active anymore.

1. The Miss World Venue Deadly/Violent Protests – the embattled pageant has been through more controversies that we can count but one that tops it all off were the numerous venue protests, cancellations and moves. Every time that the pageant is held in Great Britain, women’s liberation groups would hound the pageant from the 60’s even into the turn of the century. But the biggest of them all was in 2002 when the pageant held its contest in Nigeria during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Despite the move of the pageant date to December, the protests continued. The arrival of women that were expected to compete in fast-tracks that included swimsuits were met with violent protests that saw at least 100 people killed. It got worse when continued clashes saw the burning of a newspaper office and violence continued to escalate. This prompted the cancellation of the event and was hastily moved to London. This scenario was repeated as well in 2013 where protests in Muslim-majority Jakarta forced the organizers to keep the Miss World pageant in the Hindu island of Bali where it proceeded without a glitch. Although no deaths occurred, threats that a disruption to the pageant’s finals continued as protesters would march to disrupt the event in Bali. Thankfully, security was tight at the finals venue and the pageant continued without any signs of violence. In 1996, when the contest was held in India, one man burned himself alive in protest of the pageant. This was following more than two months of protests that included protesters’ threats of setting themselves on fire during the pageant’s finals in Bangalore. No other beauty pageant has created such violent protest in this magnitude despite the Miss World’s Beauty with a Purpose ethos and its commitment to charity.

Scandals and controversies like these can damage the image of the pageant. Some could weather the storm while others would definitely not be able to outlive them. While others would continue with the stain attached to them… 


Venezuela, USA & Philippines: Gearing up for Another Pageant Season

Venezuela, USA and the Philippines: they are three of the world ‘winning-est’ countries when it comes to beauty pageants… and with the approaching international pageant season starting this September, the world is anticipating if will they acquire more crowns this year?

Except for the United States, the three countries has won crowns from four of the biggest international pageants around: Miss Universe, Miss International, Miss Earth and Miss World. Venezuela is of course in the lead with 22 wins. If the Philippines manages to win two crowns this year, then it would take over the number 2 spot among the countries with the most overall wins. The USA has 14 crowns while the Philippines has 13, though USA has more runners up with a total of 59.
While all three countries are yet to select reps for Miss Earth and Miss World, their respective reps for Miss Universe and Miss International are regarded as heavy contenders. Shanel James was just recently crowned Miss US International 2017 while Rosangelica Piscitelli was appointed as Miss Venezuela Internacional several months ago. On the Miss Universe front, nuclear scientist Kara McCullough is easily a shoo in for the semis while Keysi Sayago is still undergoing her transformation for the pageant. Miss Universe Philippines Rachel Peters has started her training. While Binibining Pilipinas International Mariel de Leon is gunning for a back to back win.

These countries seem to be leagues ahead in terms of wins but other countries are thirsty as well.  It will be interesting to see how things will unfold in the months to come. 

The Most Damaging Scandals & Controversies to Pageant Image Pt.1

A pageant’s image is its main source of stature and future income. So when a pageant’s image has been damaged, the organization has to pull all their resources to control the damage and salvage the trust or support that is left. Fairness, equality, integrity, honesty and sensitivity should be the cornerstones when building your pageant brand.
Coming up with a list of the most damaging controversies to a pageant image is indeed very subjective and difficult to quantify. No matter how hard I would try, there would be no way for this to look objective as this is my personal thoughts regarding the matter. I wouldn’t dare say that my list would be taken as the absolute regarding this topic but it could offer some points that is up for discussion and healthy debate.
Coming from a ‘branding’ point of view the scandals and controversies listed here below, I can surmise that these definitely hurt the image of the pageant.

6. The Miss Universe 1979 Stage Collapse – this has to be one of the most embarrassing moments of the pageant that almost every pageant fan has forgotten. Having a stage collapse was something that no pageant could ever live down, IMHO, as it will be something that people will talk of and passed on as pageant trivia. But this happened to the Miss Universe pageant held in Australia in 1979. The stage collapsed after the pageant has finished its telecast where a number of the candidates fell and got hurt. At least two girls suffered mild injuries were taken to the hospital. A recorded 20 girls were said to have fallen into the hole. The part of the stage that collapsed created a hole that was 9 feet long and six feet wide. It was attributed that the additional weight of the photographers going onstage was the culprit for the stage collapse. That was the headlines the following day which eclipsed the crowning of Maritza Sayalero of Venezuela. Thankfully for the pageant, it didn’t happen during the live telecast as that would have been more damaging to the pageant’s image.

5. The Miss Grand International Resignation of Anea Garcia – this definitely trumps the Body Shaming Issue involving Miss Iceland or the lack of food at the hotel for the candidates that was last year’s dilemma. According to the memo released by the MGI organization, Anea’s dethronement was due to her inability to do her work as winner as her studies conflicts with her schedules as winner and that she was asking/ demanding requests that were not part of her contract which included her grandmother living with her in Thailand. Shortly thereafter came several screenshots that were leaked that showed the correspondence of Anea to the org. It included her concerns over safety as she was tasked to travel alone to South Sudan without a MGI chaperone and assistance during her trip. Other issues she pointed out were representations of her on social media which includes misrepresentation on quotes and nice high-quality photos to be posted, as well as providing enough living allowances for food and basic needs. This is a serious issue as if the organization cannot take care of the well-being and safety of their winner, then it puts serious questions on the integrity of the pageant.

4. The Miss World Apartheid Issue – this has been one of the controversies that the pageant hasn’t been able to escape up to this day. Back in the 70’s the Miss World allowed South Africa to send two girls to compete in Miss World, one black and one white. It was back when the issue of the Apartheid was a major global issue. A white Miss South Africa (Jillian Jessup, MW 4th runner up) and a black Miss Africa South (Pearl Jansen, MW 1st runner up) both came and competed in the pageant. Both also became runners up in the 1970 edition of the pageant. The following years also saw two delegates from the country and was named Miss Africa South and Miss South Africa. This practice continued until 1976. A number of participants withdrew from the pageant or had their governments requested them to pull out from the contest due to the apartheid policy. This happened in 1976 with 9 participants and in 1977 with 11 candidates. Such magnitude of international protest against the South African Apartheid issue saw countries taking a political side. Since its inception in 1951, no black South African has won the Miss World title, all of them were white. It is said that the Miss World allowed the two Misses South Africa to compete to allow the black Miss South Africa representation in the pageant. But it was not the message that the world received as most believed that such act perpetrated the racial divide and even promoted it. Equal rights defenders would say that such policy of allowing 2 candidates in the MW contest sends a simple message that the only way a black Miss South Africa can compete is when a white Miss SA is also represented.

Final part coming soon…