Politics and beauty pageants usually don’t mix. Or so we thought.
Last Monday’s Miss Universe pageant in Mexico had its fair share of politically charged moments. And it didn’t come from the feminists opposing the annual contest.
Yes I happened to watch the pageant and I hope this doesn’t place me in a bad light as far as the feminists are concerned. Besides, I was with my wife when I watched, hehe.
For starters, the pageant must have been a nightmare for Miss USA Rachel Smith who was jeered repeatedly by the Mexican crowd in an apparent reaction to recent US immigration policies. Though we know Miss USA had nothing to do with crafting the harsh immigration laws, she became the lightning rod of anti-American sentiments at the pageant. Crowds chanted “Mexico, Mexico” during the QnA portion of the contest. Boos where heard when Smith was called to choose her final question. Through it all, Smith managed to flash a smile.
Also, in a weird karmic twist, Miss USA slipped during the evening gown competition. Oh, how the mighty have fallen, as the quote goes. Miss USA falling on her behind was one of the news highlight picked up by Philippine television.
Well, this wasn’t the first time a candidate fell on the ramp. We all know Miss Philippines Miriam Quiambao suffered the same fate years ago, but was able to “rise to the occasion” and ended up being first runner up in the competition. Maybe Filipinos are more used to falling on their asses and getting up again. We’re harder to put down I guess.
Miss USA was battered and bruised (figuratively of course) after the pageant. This experience will probably impact on other American beauty contest aspirants who plan on competing in countries with a more or less hostile attitude towards the United States. But with the way the US government has been acting lately, there aren’t that many countries that don’t hate Uncle Sam.
Other political highlights of the night were Miss Mexico’s gown and Miss Sweden’s last minute withdrawal from the competition. Miss Mexico’s gown just happened to depict a religions uprising in the 1920’s complete with images of rebels being hanged. Shock fashion or just a political statement, the dress was nonetheless banned. Miss Sweden meanwhile backed out of the contest because protests in her own country decried that the pageant “degraded women”.
We are aware that host countries of the Miss Universe pageant use the occasion as a showcase for their tourism industry. Oddly enough, one of the tourist highlights shown in the pageant was Chiapas,touted as
Mexico’s little paradise.
For those of you familiar with Latin American movements and the music of Rage Against the Machine, Chiapas is the site of a peasant uprising and rebellion which was led by the Zapatista movement. For decades the people of Chiapas lived in conditions of extreme poverty and repression. Finally, the peasants revolted and “everything changed” as the RATM song goes.
The Chiapas we saw on Miss Universe bore none of the scars of the social conflicts still present in the region. Heck, we saw NONE of the people of Chiapas. We only saw the great view and not much else.
One could only wonder where the Mexican government hid all the “eyesores” that tend to scare away valuable tourist revenue. In the Philippines, when we host a beauty pageant, we demolish squatters and vendors and do a paint job on the entire city just to sweep poverty under the rug.