Special Feature: On Nudity and Future Binibining Pilipinas Aspirants

Earlier this month, there has been a very heated debate among some of Sash Factor’s correspondents and pageant experts regarding the decency clause (which pertains to nudity and posing for men’s magazines) of the Binibining Pilipinas pageant. While some may argue that nudity has to be scrapped, there are also those who argue that the decency clause is a form of protection for the girls and the pageant itself from detractors and critics calling pageants as a “flesh parade”.

Parts of the Bb. Pilipinas requirements states that the applicant should adhere to the following criterion:
* I am of good moral character;
* I have never participated in any bold/burlesque shows, plays, movies, publications or activities, or such show, play, movie, publication or activity, which, in the sole opinion and discretion of BPCI, is inconsistent with my application with the Pageant, run counter against the social and moral principles upon which the Pageant is founded upon, and/or bring disrepute or embarrassment to BPCI or any of its sponsors;
* I have not engaged in prostitution or any such act which can be deemed as similar or related thereto

I believe that these are fair points to ask any BBP hopeful. The BPCI is, after all, a private institution and can mandate / impose its own rules. However, it would also do them better if they stated a blanket rule on nudity and posing for men’s publications and specify what is and what isn’t allowed. This way, potential applicants are guided fully. And their camps/ mentors should also be fully aware should their candidacy be at risk with topless/ nude photos. Disclosure to your mentors/ handlers/ camps should be a rule so that both parties would not be at risk.
Once and for all I would like to have this debate come to rest so that we wouldn’t have to keep resurrecting this topic every Binibini season…

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When Interviews and Social/ Community Involvement Counts

If you think that the 90’s era of Miss Universe has returned, you gotta think twice. It’s not just enough to nail the interviews, future Miss Universe hopeful has to stand for something and has to be able to tell a story of empowerment and triumph.

Of course beauty and presence still count in pageants. Beauty and universality still weights heavily when selecting the winner from the top 3. While it was evident in the past 2 editions of Miss Universe that the interview bears a huge weight, we also have to factor in that community involvement/ social awareness and advocacy also plays a part. Pageant girls have to add a social dimension to their pageant stories and resumes. Because this allows them to have a jump off point for conversations in the closed-door interviews. It also allows the judges and the MUOrg to see that their possible winner is not self-involved but rather one who has something to contribute to her community.
In my humble observation, the people at the MUOrg are looking for someone who is not just a manufactured doll with a pre-packaged backstory. They want someone with an authentic story and authentic advocacy. It is easily recognizable if it is inauthentic and faked just for the pageant. Even if it is said to have been established years ago, the question of consistency and sincerity are just things that couldn’t be faked. There has to be visible proof not just press releases to make it look ‘real’.
Because if it was manufactured, how it is presented would be robotic/ rehearsed… and judges would pick up on that during the interviews. That is because 80% of communication relies on non-verbal cues. Lying  would be very obvious during the close door preliminaries. This is perhaps why the interviews contribute to 60% of the preliminary scores in Miss Universe. Candidates are not just judged on confidence and speaking ability but also on sincerity. Of course if one is not sincere, how could that person represent the MU organization?

The Miss Universe is truly trying to reinvent itself to be relevant, hence their way of looking for a winner that speaks of relevant topics and advocacies is the way to go. It enables the potential winner something to talk about during her reign. Because after all the glitz and glamour of the finals night, the work as Miss Universe truly begins.

Sashes&Scripts Year-End Special: The Changing Ideals in a Beauty Pageant Winner

2017 saw a full change in what takes to win a beauty pageant. These days a new type of beauty queen is seen emerging among national and international pageants. It is no longer enough that you possess the face, height and body for beauty contests. International and national pageant organizations are looking now for far more than the proverbial “face that could launch a thousand ships“.

Changing body ideals: small bust, wide hips, thick thighs and short legs…they don’t matter anymore…

Personal Achievement – whether you are a breadwinner from an early age, or managed to get your masters degree while juggling 2 jobs, or a household helper who succeeded in getting a degree of her own, or survived sexual assault, or an orphan who was raised by nuns, you gotta have a personal story or personal achievement to tell. That is part and parcel of being relate-able. Yes, other girls wouldn’t look as gorgeous as you but at least it gives hope that life can be better for them. This is what pageant orgs seem to be looking for a winner. Someone that is admirable and aspirational to make pageants be more current and modern.
Communication Skill -smarts trumps surface beauty, that should always be one that pageants should move towards for. Gone are the days when we would cringe at pageant winners who falter at the dreaded q&a. Nowadays, beauty pageant winners are expected to be able to hold conversations and speeches in public. Being able to communicate is something that all winners required to as they are de facto spokespersons/ ambassadors of the pageant org. Just look at the bumper crop of 2017 Binibining Pilipinas queens. All of them are capable of holding conversations and look stunning both at the same time.
Community Involvement/ Advocacy – done nothing for your community? Have nothing to show in terms of charity projects? Then have one even before you think of joining a national pageant. Even as a beauty queen aspirant, you have to stand for something and show up for it. You gotta be involved in your community or in a passion project that speaks to you….whether that be a regular clean up drive, standing up against bullying, HIV-AIDS awareness, humane treatment of animals, fight against human trafficking or cancer research. You have to be less self-absorbed and more involved in the world around you.

Pageant Buzz Words: Having compelling backstory and timely advocacies are a must in a pageant girl’s resume nowadays…

Market Appeal to Strengthen the Brand – it is no surprise that every pageant has made adjustments in how they select their winner in hopes to appeal to a larger world market. The latest move is how the MU pageant copied the ME’s continental grouping in selecting their semi-finalists. MW and MI have the continental queens to cover their bases. Hence this translates well into selecting its winners. Each pageant would select a queen that could further their agendas. Hence we saw a medical physicist representing the scientific community in global warming issues, an advocate of self-defense as an empowered and confidently beautiful winner, a medical student as the face of what is beautiful with a purpose… Each winner has to have market appeal to strengthen the pageant’s brand image to a worldwide audience.
Pageant Organization Favorite – this is a little bit difficult to quantify compared to the other points discussed. Nowadays, pageant organizations exert a little (to full) influence on who makes it to the semis and eventually win. They are, after all, the ones who would work with the eventual winner for a year’s duration. They might as well select one that they could work with in a professional capacity. Diva attitudes and bad behaviour are not tolerable. So it pays that pageant hopefuls be professional and courteous. This is the way to endear yourselves to the organization and get noticed. Remember that a pageant is not won during the finals but during the everyday you step out and face the day’s pageant activities.

Heard, not just Seen: Winners should be able to carry a conversation as they are spokesperson of the organization…

It is safe to say that winners should cover all of these bases to be successful at a pageant. Yes, physical beauty still counts for a lot but in a line up of very beautiful women, those that have the above points covered will most likely stand out.

Pageant Tourism: Is it Good/ Bad for the Philippines?

In just one calendar year, the Philippines has hosted two of the international Alpha pageants in the world: the 65th Miss Universe in January and Miss Earth 2017 in November. Plus we also hosted the Miss Asia Pacific International, Mister Grand International, Mister Tourism Universe together with a plethora of other minor international competitions that are too many to even mention.

This begs the question, is the Philippines getting branded for its pageant tourism approach? Does this give off a negative connotation/ association to the Department of Tourism’s effectiveness as a government agency? Is there a good/ bad trade-off for this branding?
There are pros and cons to this situation. A definite pro is that Pageant Tourism is something that has never been done by any country in the world. It would something that could strategically appeal to the pageant loving communities all over the world. And this could be a initial ‘come hither’ call for tourists that could be a segue to the bigger tourist destinations. This can even be further developed by having the pageants’ finals held in other major cities like Cebu and Davao to push more tourists into these cities and the nearby scenic locales. The DOT can even give its endorsement and get more publicity and sponsorship for these pageants. Or even perhaps allow a incentive or tax break for such prestigious pageants to be held in the Philippines.

A con, however, is the over proliferation of pageants and it would be difficult to pick which ones would be of good reputation. With a lot of fly-by-night pageants that sprung up like mushrooms, there should be a certain criteria that must be met to be included into the roster of DOT-endorsed national/ international pageants. Another con is the fact that tourist spots in the country are spread out and it would be a logistics nightmare to feature them all in the pageant’s program. This doesn’t include the fact that some tourist areas may not have the necessary infrastructures to hold a finals night that could further highlight other Philippine tourist destinations aside from Metro Manila.

How about you? Weigh in the matter on the poll below…

Sashes&Scripts’ Thoughts on the New Miss Universe Format

It has been circulating for more than a day that the Miss Universe format would be somewhat similar to that of Miss Intercontinental. Although we have reliable sources that confirmed this news to us, we opted to get more information on the matter before dipping our toes in the pool, so to speak. Being in Las Vegas to watch the rehearsals live and getting to seat alongside national directors in the rehearsals allowed us to get more accurate info on the proceedings.

Earlier I have published an article update on how the top 16 semifinalists are chosen. The top 16 will comprise of 4 girls from North and South America, 4 from the Europe, 4 girls from Africa and Asia-Oceania with the last 4 wildcard girls coming from any of the continents. This new format is met with hesitancy by pageant fans.
And these are my thoughts on it:
* Biggest disadvantage of the new format would be the girls from the Americas (North & South America plus the Caribbean). They have strong representation this year with Canada, USA, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, Jamaica, Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, & Venezuela. It would be a bloody torture to see some of these strong girls clap behind the stage come finals.

* Biggest advantage of the new format would be Europe because they only have a handful of strong girls (Russia, Spain, Great Britain,  Sweden & Iceland) who performed strongly at the preliminary swimsuit and gown competitions. IMHO in this group, they should have also added Lebanon, Turkey and Israel since they are mostly Caucasian looking and these countries are part of the Mediterranean.
* Aside from the major frontrunners of Asia & Africa (South Africa, Philippines, & Thailand), there are other strong competitors from this group such as Ghana, Tanzania, Mauritius, Cambodia, Indonesia and Korea.
* It would be interesting to see if the wildcards will mainly comprise of girls from Asia and the Americas. Because this is where I believe the girls who are so thirsty to win are grouped.
* I also think that allowing the weakest group more slots into the semis is just a play to make that group get interested more with the Miss Universe pageant. Which I would say not much of a good investment. In my humble opinion, Asia should be afforded a separate grouping since it is Asia that has a growing market for pageants.

You may or may not agree with my thoughts on this matter but I wanna get you thinking more critically. I welcome this new innovation from Miss Universe but I am not much of a fan of how the girls are grouped. I believe there is a much better way to group them much more evenly to level the playing field.

MU, MW and MI: The Heritage Brands of Pageantry

When we speak of luxury heritage brands in fashion, we speak of the history, craftsmanship and tradition of long withstanding brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermés, Chanel, Dior or TAG Heuer. Some of these brands have been in existence since the 1850’s to the 1950’s and carries with them a sense of timelessness and longevity. For international pageants, only three has come close to be called such: Miss World, Miss Universe and Miss International. Among the most popular international pageants, these three has withstood the test of time being in existence for at least 50 years. We can actually nickname Miss World is the Hermes of pageantry, Miss International is Chanel and Miss Universe is Dior.

Technically, the Miss Universe pageant is the oldest international pageant title in existence. Did you know that in 1926, there used to be Miss Universe pageant organized by the International Pageant of Pulchritude? This existed until 1935 and was based in Galveston, Texas. The first Miss Universe Pageant that we now know of was held in Long Beach, California in 1952 by Pacific Knitting Mills, manufacturer of Catalina Swimwear. The pageant was first televised in 1955.  In 1998, Miss Universe, Inc. changed its name to Miss Universe Organization after Donald Trump acquired the pageant. It moved its headquarters from California to New York City in the same year.

Did you know that the Miss World got it name not from the organizers of the pageant but from the press that covered the competition? The first pageant was organized by founder Eric Morley and called it Festival Bikini Contest as it was held at the Festival of Britain celebration held in 1951. The name Miss World stuck to the pageant and was used since then. The first pageant gathered 26 contestants with 10 coming from Great Britain. In 1959, the British Broadcasting Corporation started televising the pageant. And it 1980, the Beauty with a Purpose re-branded the pageant, although the pageant stopped being broadcast in Britain in the year 1988.

Since 1972, the Miss International pageant has been primarily held in Japan, although it traces its roots in Long Beach, California. The pageant was first held in 1960 which saw Stella Marquez besting 51 others for the title. The pageant ownership have changed since moving to Japan and was called Japan Beauty Congress Association. It was in 1975 when the organization was finally renamed International Cultural Association which has remained to this day.
High voltage prestige, being timeless and a long history is one of the key elements to be called a luxury heritage brand. something that the three oldest pageants in the earth could easily boast of. But its not just those that makes these three pageants heritage brands, it is their commitment to their causes that continuously makes them some of the most relevant competitions around.

SOURCES:
http://www1.assumption.edu/ahc/vanities/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Pageant_of_Pulchritude
https://www.miss-international.org/en/history/

BLOGGERS’ NOTE: 
Miss Earth isn’t included in the list as ME is comparatively too young. The Miss Universe, Miss World & Miss International pageants has been in existence for at least 50 years.

Pageant Fan Generations: Baby Boomers, GenX-ers, Millennials & Generation Z

When Miss Earth Thailand Paweensuda Drouin had a hard time during the Hashtag segment of the Miss Earth 2017 pageant, people are quick to talk about the term ‘Millenials‘ (as misspelled during the pageant). But what this blogger find surprising is that a lot of those that painted criticisms over Fahsai not knowing the term, have a very shallow understanding of what it means to be a millennial. So for this post, the blogger lists down the generations and how they translate into pageant fans…

Disclaimer:
Before reading on, note that this is a sarcastic write up. It pokes a mocking fun at the good and bad points of several generations; from the Baby Boomers, the Millennials to the GenerationZ. Do not take this article too seriously for your own good.
Baby Boomer Generation – those who were born in the mid-40’s to mid 60’s. The Boomers are the generation of privilege, the wealthiest of the generations in this list as they received peak levels of income….Thus they are the generation of excess and consumption. It is also the generation of changing ideals with the rise of feminism and civil rights movement during the maturity of the Boomers

They are the generation that saw the birth of the heritage pageants of Miss Universe, Miss World and Miss International. They are the ones that could afford the extra expensive tickets to watch international pageants live, stay in luxury hotels because they don’t want to be associated with the baklang darak & hamog that watch the pageant in general admission. They can slap you with their thick wads of money spent on pageants because they can buy you, your friends and this club! They are the ones who can tell you the scandalous past of former winners because they lived through it and are still probably doing it still. And they can regale you stories of which beauty queen/s married for money and status. They are the Alpha fans, the Nyoras, the dinosaurs of pageant fans.

Generation X or GenX-ers – they are the pocket generation that overlaps between the baby boomers and the millennials. Typically said to be born between the mid-60’s to early 80’s, they are described to be the Rebel Generation or the Skeptic Generation. They are witness to the shift from analog to digital… the last generation to play on the streets, get dirty and have fun. 
This generation got to experience the Golden Age of pageants while watching the likes of Brooke Mahaelani Lee, Michelle McLean, Diana Hayden, Aiswarya Rai, Wendy Fitzwilliam, Mpule Kwelagobe, Linor Abargil and Sushmita Sen.  This is the generation who started clipping newspaper features of beauty pageants because they are dirt poor when they were young badettes hiding from their fathers their stash of pageant mementos. This is the old school generation that clips magazine articles and pics of beauty queens and hold on to them like dear life! They are the first to collect photos of beauty queens in diskettes when pageants started to go digital in the mid-90’s. Now they are professionals career-wise and could afford decent tickets to watch pageants. They are approaching aging/ maturity and are next in line to be called thundercats of pageantry.

Millennials or Generation Y – There is a general debate on whether the millennials were born between the mid-70’s to mid-80’s or those that were born from the 80’s to late 90’s. Millennials are said to be the most tech-savvy of generations and are generally liberal in their political, sexual and social views. Millennials live with the traits of confidence and tolerance, but also describes a sense of entitlement and narcissism.
This is the generation of the Zuleyka’s, Oxana’s and Dayana’s. They are the generation who like to bitch and whine online just like the pageant girls they grew up with. Facebook judges, that is what best describes them… as they judge pageant girls by what they see on social media outlets. So if a pageant girl doesn’t post training pics, she is immediately branded as lazy. Or if a girl posts regular pictorials, she is tagged as a photoshop or photoshoot beauty. This is the generation of superficial beauty where their only standard of beauty are that of Latinas and/or caucasians. Currently they comprise the biggest population of pageant fans and are the noisiest on socmed because they don’t have anything else to do outside pageantry… #charot
IGeneration or Generation Z – they are said to be those that were born typically between mid-90’s to mid-2000’s. The generation that grew up online thru social media.
Online Trolling – yes we’re all guilty of that but the GenZ’s tend to take it to supernova levels. Extremely judgmental! They are quick to judge a person or a group just by surface alone, hence they are more likely to behave like a lynch mob online. They tend to bandwagon together because of their innate insecurity on their opinions that they seek validation from others. With their impatience, they tend to read only the blurbs and titles without comprehending the full articles. Hence judging a book by its cover. Their narrow comprehension leads to hasty judgments and emotional outbursts. They are the generation of fake FB and IG profiles because they aren’t confident to show their pimply, twinky and powerbottom faces without being ridiculed.

That is your pageant fan generation for you. Hopefully you survived reading through this blogpost… If it hit you like a ton of bricks, then its your fault for not steering clear! #LOLs

Source:
* Twenge, Ph.D., Jean (2006). Generation Me. New York, NY: Free Press (Simon & Schuster)
* https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2017/08/why-generation-x-might-be-our-last-best-hope
* http://socialmarketing.org/archives/generations-xy-z-and-the-others/
* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_boomers
* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennials
* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_X
* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Z