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.


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…

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

* Twenge, Ph.D., Jean (2006). Generation Me. New York, NY: Free Press (Simon & Schuster)

Is Miss Universe IMG|WME Era More Concerned in Stories to Tell?

One of the most common observations pageant connoisseurs and insiders have been asking lately regarding Miss Universe is it more concerned in the importance of a meaty resume and background stories rather than just selecting the most beautiful girl in the universe?

Arna Yr Jonsdottir– this athlete from Iceland is surely gonna be a MU favorite as she is a victim of the current “it word” in Hollywood: body shaming. Being called to trim down in the middle of a beauty pageant by its owner would definitely give her media mileage in Las Vegas. And if Ashley Graham is gonna co-host, then expect Arna to have extra airtime on TV.
Davina Bennett – a true survivor of sorts, after multiple rejections as a model, a mugging days before her birthday and loosing a dear grandparent while being away from her country yet made her way to win Miss Jamaica. Add to that, she also founded the Davina Bennett Foundation for the Deaf. Now that is a resume every pageant girls would be envious of. 
Carmen Munoz – in terms of meaty resume, Dominican Republic’s lawyer-slash-beauty queen Carmen Munoz isn’t about to get left behind. This pageant girl has been part of a team who wrote legislation for her country. Who could beat that achievement? And it her being a lawyer would definitely help in the crucial interview rounds.
Kara McCullough – it was shoved in everybody’s throats that this gorgeous lady from DC is a nuclear physicist. And surely that card will be played over and over again come Miss Universe season. 

Keysi Sayago – nothing beats a Cinderella story of being able to go to the ball, just ask Mariangel Ruiz. Keysi was earlier said that she wouldn’t be able to compete due to financial difficulties of the org to come up with the national franchise fee. Now she is all set to compete in Las Vegas who will be eager to know more of her views on the political and economic unrest in her home country.
Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters – this petite 5’7″ stunner survived a mugging in London earlier this year. Not only that, since winning the Miss South Africa title she has been plagued by numerous issues: from pageant rigging to the glove use in a charity mission. Surely this lady will be getting tons of attention in Miss Universe.

Rachel Peters – grew up in different parts of the world, living independently as a self-made entrepreneur and yes she is also a double degree holder (according to an ABS-CBN report). She spent portions of her life in Thailand, Australia, UK and the Philippines, where she opened up a cafe in Siargao, Camarines Sur. Not surprising as she is a self-confessed beach lover.

These are just some of the “girls with a story to tell”. Surely there are more to be unveiled later…
Nowadays winning Miss Universe is more than just good looks. It takes guts and grit, not to mention personal advocacies and community work. Nowadays, you cannot be Miss Universe if you stand on beauty alone…

Ms. Earth versus Ms. Grand International: The Rivalry

With the recent Miss Earth and Miss Grand International pageants having overlapping schedules, pageant fans of each competition are at each others’ throats once again. Why is this bitter rivalry still wouldn’t put to rest? Here are comparisons that brings the two at odds…

The Question of Each Others’ Advocacy – In terms of relevant advocacies, both pageant are now at an equal standing. Miss Earth with global warming becoming an international issue that more and more countries are realizing, becomes stronger each year. But nowadays with war, terrorism and domestic violence being on the forefront of every news channel, the MGI peace advocacy has begun to become more socially relevant. So neither of these pageant can claim that theirs is more relevant than the other. The only part that would differentiate is how they implement their advocacy plans. Something that ME enjoys being the older among the two.
The Better Production – in terms of finals night production, both are at par with each other. ME did struggle a bit in past editions in terms of production consistency though they have delivered well in recent years. The only weak point of the ME finals are the dizzying camera panning that is more appropriate for noontime variety programs. MGI couldn’t be denied that this seemed to be their forte: Showmanship with consistency year after year. Though there are times when choreography and contestant intros go overboard, that these become memes on soc-med.

The Glamour Factor – hands down MGI wins this round, simply because ME has always been unapologetic in its mission. ME is far more focused in tree planting activities, environmental seminars and the like to be bothered with regular photoshoots of the girls. Not that ME has zero glamour but rather MGI has bigger proportion on it. This is something that MGI has mastery of. Let’s face it and be true to ourselves, glitz and glamour is perhaps a huge portion of the reason we all love pageants. All ME has to do to address that is to get more exposure for their winners in glammed up events. 
The Bitter Fan Rivalries – Let’s face it, the rivalry between the pageant is mainly fueled by each of their fans. The only difference is that Filipino fans of ME is seen to be more vocal and loud on all social media outlets, plus the advantage of being bi-lingual able to communicate in English. Thai fans of MGI are just as capable of generating noise on social media though not as strong in other forms of soc-med (mainly via Twitter). nevertheless, these two countries are the biggest consumer of pageants in Asia.

Which is the better pageant? Truthfully, both pageants have areas of improvement that needs to be addressed before we can collectively validate which pageant is superior. While Miss Earth may have slight advantage in terms of social media noise and history, Miss Grand International is hot on its heels by improving leaps and bounds. ME cannot be complacent in its status as an Alpha Pageant, because MGI alongside MS are just around the corner continuously improving. It is likely that these pageants could be the next in line to the Alpha status that ME, MI, MU and MW currently enjoys (at least just for now).
The question of who is the better pageant between Miss Earth and Miss Grand International will not likely be answered now but in years to come…

Opinion: Elizabeth as Miss Grand International & Paweensuda as Miss Earth?

The Miss Earth and Miss Grand International pageants are having overlapping schedules this year. Not withstanding the steaming rivalry between the two pageants, their finals night will be highly anticipated as to which lady is gonna run home with the titles. At this point, I can say I already have formed several favorites for the Miss Earth and Miss Grand International titles. But for this post let’s focus on just two: Elizabeth Clenci and Paweensuda Drouin.

If Elizabeth Clenci wins the Miss Grand International title (finals on October 26, 2017), this would be a huge win for the Bangkok-based pageant. Filipinos love to rally behind their queens and it would be a great way to reconcile Pinoy pageant fans with MGI. There would be a huge wave of support for Liz as the winner which would benefit the pageant. Elizabeth is nailing the fashion game spot-on and she knows how to command attention without asking for it. Add to that is her ability to win you over with her winsome personality, something that the Vietnamese fans are seeing as of late.
If Paweensuda Drouin Saetan or Fahsai wins Miss Earth? That would be to the delight of Thai fans as Fahsai is perhaps the strongest girl they have sent to ME in ages. No disrespect to the gorgeous Punika Kulsoontornrut, but Fahsai is far more ME winner material. Of course Fahsai’s win could usher more Thai fans for ME, also a win-win for the Manila-based pageant. Fahsai seems to be genuinely sympathetic to the ME cause. Add to her resume, public speaking skills, impressive face and tall stature, she seems to be quite a perfect candidate for the ME title. Miss Earth finals will be on November  4, 2017.

Don’t you think that this scenario could easily play out? That both Fahsai and Liz can be the bridge to bring the ME and MGI fans together? Or that it would benefit the ME & MGI pageants in the long term? 
Your thoughts, dear readers…

Are we Ready for A Transgender Miss Universe Winner?

Anita Green grabbed headlines earlier when she was named the first open transgender woman to compete in Miss Montana USA. The 26 year old beauty queen aspirant would only be the second transgender woman to vie for a state title in Miss USA after Arianna Wenzel in Miss California USA 2013. Back in 2012, then owner Donald Trump has openly allowed transgender contestants to compete in Miss Universe (and consequently in Miss USA & Miss Teen USA). This was after Jenna Talackova was initially barred from joining Miss Universe Canada that caused major uproar. While people may see this as a move towards the right direction, I thought that Trump did that just to gain publicity for the pageant not out of altruistic reasons.

Gabriela Isler, former Miss Universe 2013 from Venezuela (in a statement attributed to her) said that, “there is more to being a woman. We were born female, we experience menstruation cycle for decades, we struggle to be recognized in a mad men era too, we nurture life. That is what Miss Universe is about. You don’t buy womanhood.” The Venezuela beauty told Hufftington Post that transgenders “should have their own pageant, I think, and maybe they can realize [that] in this pageant, Miss Universe, or the other pageants [were] made for women.” Owing perhaps to the narrowing area of opportunities for women to excel, her statement can be deemed in support for naturally-borne females. On the other side of the debate was Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo who had no issues against transgender women competing in Miss USA or Miss Universe.

I am on the fence regarding this issue. It is a bit difficult to allow transgender women into the pageant as it may alienate traditional pageant followers who still believe that natural-born females should compete. Yet with the “diversity” that the MUOrg seems to be shoving out on our throats lately, we have to be inclusive of all women of shapes and sizes, and yes of different forms. On a personal note, I think that transgender women should compete in pageants that are specifically designed for them and elevate it into a world-class competition like the Miss Universe pageant, although I do not have any problems seeing a transgender female in MU competing for the title.