OPINION: Falling onstage


Falling onstage took a highlight when in 1999, Miriam Quiambao of the Philippines was asked about her preliminaries mishap. Miriam, who was sent to Trinidad and Tobago as a replacement to a dethroned queen, was not expected much to perform well. As it turns out, her fall during the gown preliminaries was her “saving grace” and perhaps the reason why she landed as the first runner-up. The issue really is not about her disastrous fall. Instead, the focus on how she managed to stand up. Miriam recalls that when she slipped she felt that there was need for her to show that she was alright. She stood up, took a few steps and outstretched both her arms as if saying “I am here”.

Miriam was not alone. In Miss World 1998, Miss Ghana Efia Owusuaa Marfo also fell onstage where she stood up looking dazed and unsure on what to do. In Miss Universe 2007, Rachel Smith had to endure the humiliation of being booed by the crowd and at the same time a very strong landing on the butt during the gown competition. Rachel stood up as if nothing had happened and masked her pain with a nice smile. The same thing happened to her successor Crystle Stewart albeit with a softer landing impact. Crystle simply stood up and clapped her hands up high in the air.

Standing up while in pain ala Gracie Lou Freebush of Miss Congeniality fame is a feat in itself. There might be some symbolic stuffs attached to it feeling like standing for all the women who has fallen off or on stage but the physical danger is real. Falling on or off stage could render you injured. Ask Miss India Pooja Chopra who limped her way onstage in Miss World 2009. This could really ruin the chances of any girl in winning the crown. Organizers should ensure that any aesthetic improvements for the stage will not bring any injury to women walking onstage on heels.

That is why the Yamamay swimsuit fashion show was a disaster. Whoever came up with an idea of putting a hole right in the center of the stage is as stupid as the guy who designed the Miss Universe 1979 stage where Miss Malta Dain Borg Bartolo and Miss Turkey Fusin Tahire Dermitan were injured. While Dain had some minor bruises, Fusin suffered a concussion. They fell down in a 6-foot hole when the stage collapsed. Similarly, Miss Dominican Republic Yaritza Reyes felt an enormous amount of pain when her left foot went straight into the hole. And while she recovered quickly, it was very apparent that she masked her pain courageously.

We can talk about courage and grace from fall and hail all the women who stood up but as mentioned the physical danger is real. All the beauty pageants in the world should put the safety of the contestants a priority. A slippery or a stupidly designed stage is a danger no security guard or chaperone can avert. The organizers should consider how safe their facilities being used and conduct a proper risk assessment. Also, the delegates should have the right to refuse to do things that they think will put their safety into jeopardy. Missosology.Org