Not Fijian enough?
Why the series of dethronements is an alarming trend
It was a night that Andhy Blake had been waiting for. A new Miss World Fiji will be chosen and as the new National Director, he is making history. Fiji had graced the Miss World pageant only once and now the revival of the national pageant is meant to place the South Pacific island-nation back into the beauty pageant map. Andhy had been pitching his pageant for quite some time providing beauty pageant websites with updates. Supposedly, Ivian Sarcos is to grace the event but it settled for New Zealand supermodel Rachel Hunter.
Alas, as the new title went to a young schoolgirl named Torika Watters, a barrage of controversies began to hit the newly revived pageant. First is the age issue. Torika is barely 17. Then one of the judges came forward to claim that the panel of judges do not have a criteria to base their judgment nor scores to give to determine the eventual winner. In short, the contest was rigged in Torika’s favor. And then came the issue of race. Torika was criticized for not being Fijian enough. This came from a nation, which years ago ousted a government because the ethnic Pacific Islanders are not happy that the ethnic Indian Fijians control the government and the economy.
Subsequently, Torika was dethroned – albeit technically. While the first runner-up Koini Vakaloloma will compete at Miss World 2012 to be held in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China, Torika will anyway represent Fiji at Miss World 2013 which will be held in Bali, Indonesia.
Thousands of miles away, days before Torika was crowned, the National Director of Miss Universe Dominican Republic Megaly Febles had her own worries. As the owner of one of the recently successfully franchises of Miss Universe, Megaly can boast a single Miss Universe in the name of Amelia Vega. On top of that, there’s Marianne Cruz and Ada Aimee de la Cruz to be proud of.
But Dominican Republic is on decline. Since the first runner-up finish of Ada Aimee in 2009, not a single Dominican beauty made it to the semis of the Miss Universe. The failures of its 2010 and 2011 campaigns mean that Megaly must work doubly hard. But all Megaly’s efforts came into naught. Carlina Duran Baldera was exposed to be as a divorced woman – a no-no in the pageantry world. (Yes that is right – you can be a transsexual but never a divorcee at Miss Universe)
And it’s a double whammy for Dominican Republic. It’s Miss World 2012 contestant was also dethroned because she is overage. Jenny Blanco who was touted as a strong candidate for the pageant was stripped of her crown because she is non-compliant with the age limit. The same case was the reason why Miss World Ireland Marie Hughres was dethroned.
On the lighter note (if you can see it that way), several dethronements were the results of lack of proper verification. This is true in the case of Miss Sri Lanka and Miss World Bulgaria contests. The events in both pageants are very cruel. Imagine having a crown in your head your head spinning with your victory and then later you are to be told that there was a huge mix up with the scores? It a drastic fall from the Everest slamming to the Dead Sea.
So what do make out of these series of dethronements? The positive side is, dethronements can be dramatic and could be a source of endless discussion. It was once thought that if Venus Raj was not dethroned she wouldn’t get that much attention and probably wouldn’t break the long drought of the Philippines. The negative side of that however is that a contestant will always have a baggage to carry to with her to the pageant. Remember how the Sofia Rudieva dodged the dethronement for her pornographic photos? She was snubbed at Miss Universe 2009 despite being a stunning candidate.
But dethronements can be a clear cut symptom of a systematic failures within a national organization. Stupidity perhaps for Miss World Dominican Republic organizers or a screening lapse in part of Miss World Ireland and Miss Miss Universe Dominican Republic. But certainly, the biggest fools of all are the people behind Miss World Bulgaria and Derana Miss Sri Lanka pageants.
Dethronements are not fun of course – at least for the organizers and the winners. It leaves a personal scar and is a nightmare for a National Pageant. But above all, it could be good gauge to measure the weakening of a nation in the world of pageantry.