We’ve all probably dreamt of becoming a beauty queen. As kids, growing in a pageant-loving country meant dressing ourselves in makeshift ‘gowns’ out of blankets or curtains. Walking down a ‘runway’, waving to the crowd, and winning a crown – whether made of plastic or flowers – is most likely a shared experience.
But being a pageant-loving country doesn’t always mean glitz and glamour. More often than not, we’re held at such a high beauty standard that it’s getting harder to keep up. It’s getting more dangerous to keep up.
As hard as it is to admit, Filipinos stick with the pretty privilege. An individual’s value depends on her physique. On whether or not you fit within the boxed standard of beauty. It’s always about the fair skin, the high nose bridge, the slim figure. And it doesn’t help that renowned pageants continue to keep these standards.
But not Miss Universe 2021.
The roster of beauty queens on this year’s prestigious Miss Universe competition proves that the ‘standard’ we know is shifting. And honestly, we’re here for it!
Our very own Beatrice Luigi Gomez is probably the first queen that has a (visible) tattoo, and that is a big thing!
We grew up witnessing (and embracing) femininity. What is and what’s supposed to be a woman was already laid out. As women, we’ve been told to act delicately, to look soft and dainty. And tattoos were never among those.
Miss Universe Philippines proves otherwise.
That a woman is more than her skin. Our worth as women is never quantifiable by the labels we’re forced to stick with nor by the boxes we’re forced to stay in. A woman’s body is hers to decide on.
It is empowering to see a woman – to see Bea on stage – as an openly bisexual pageant queen slowly causing a shift to the set standards.
Manar Nadeem ‘Jess’ Deyani is rewriting the pageant rules!
You might have seen it in various news outlets – Miss Universe Bahrain is the first queen to have ditched wearing a swimwear in the swimsuit prelims. And this is definitely new in the pageant world!
We are so used to seeing pageant contenders work hard to keep their figures slim in preparation for the swimsuit competition. And admittedly, one point or another, we wished we could look exactly like them – with long legs and flat stomachs.
But with Jess Deyani opting to wear a black jumpsuit in respect to her cultural and religious beliefs, it somehow allowed us to see that pageantry can also cater to diversity. That it wouldn’t make you less of a beauty queen to stand firm on your beliefs. And as she said:
Beauty is more than going with the flow, and that in itself makes Miss Universe Bahrain an image of change.
Annchilee Scott-Kemmis represented #RealSizeBeauty on the Miss Universe 2021 stage!
For years, we were forced to think that we are supposed to fit the beauty standards to be beautiful, to be accepted. For years, we’ve looked up to women with unreal proportions. But this year, Miss Universe Thailand stand loud and proud as she challenged that.
An applaud to the fact that a woman is more than just her body. Our values do not rely on our clothing size, and never will it rely on what society expects from us. It is heart-warming to see how accepting, albeit slowly, our society is becoming of the reality of bodies.
Beauty has started to take form beyond one’s physique. And although we can all agree that these three beauty queens are indeed beautiful, I think we’re one in saying that they are more than just their beauty.
Applause and congratulations to these faces of Miss Universe 2021 that are paving way for acceptance, self-love, and self-identity. You are among the little sparks of change that the little children watching need towards owning themselves. Cheers to a woman’s individuality!
Joma is an enthusiastic public-speaker and a passionate story-teller. Armed with a pen, her wild ideas, and zest for the unseen, she goes far and wide to sew words and unearth stories. Beyond what she loves, you'll find her snuggled in between silent giggles, engrossed with rom-coms and sweet delights.