31 July 2008
30 July 2008
28 July 2008
27 July 2008
26 July 2008
25 July 2008
Mpule Kwelogobe graces the cover of "Heart & Soul" magazine in 1999.
24 July 2008
1969: The dawning of the "Age of Aguarius," when people were letting their hair down. Not these ladies, though. Many cans of Aqua Net and Alberto VO-5 were sacrificed for these hair creations at the 1969 Miss USA pageant. Wendy Dascomb, the newly crowned Miss USA sits on her throne surrounded by her court, which includes one of our all time favorite first runners-up, Miss Vermont. No hurricane could have struck Miami Beach that these lovely ladies couldn't withstand. Not a hair out of place. Love it.
23 July 2008
23 July 2008
Controversial Miss Hong Kong 2008 winner Edelweiss Cheung attended another prizegiving ceremony today, together with runners-up Skye Chan and Sire Ma and Trendy Vision award winner Hilda Leung. The ladies also helped to open the new branch of the sponsor's optical shop.
Since winning the title, further reports that have broken that Edelweiss is good friends with the elder sister of Mr Ronnie Wong JP, who was a member of the contest's judging panel, fuelling the rumours that the results were fixed. Asked to confirm her relationship with Ms Wong, Edelweiss said that she only knew her because they were neighbours when she was younger and that they had not met up for over a decade. She added that she did not know Mr Wong at all.
Asked if she was unhappy about all the speculation about the contest result, Edelweiss replied that she is now getting used to the comments about her win being a surprise or a fix and she will not let this affect her carrying out her duties as Miss Hong Kong.
The amNewYork offices were abuzz with chatter and stares this afternoon, as Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza swung by to chat with us about her recent win.
"I just thought, 'My God,' I thought of my country, and I thought, 'We made it,'" the 22-year-old Venezuelan beauty told us about the moment she was crowned.
Mendoza has been in the spotlight since age 12, when she was discovered in her home country. By 15, she was working as a model in New York.
"But then I just decided that modeling wasn't enough," she said. "I wanted something similar but to have more relationships with the people."
Hence, the pageants (and wins), which she says are an important way to empower women.
But how about the critics who say pageants do just the opposite?
"I guess everybody has their point of view, like not everybody likes pasta," Mendoza said. "The most important thing is that we are the ones in the pageant, and you have to be happy with what you do. And we love what we do. Nobody pushes us to be in the pageant."
During her year of reign, Mendoza will travel around the world, raising awareness for HIV/AIDS. After that, she wants to pursue her other interests, perhaps interior designing, hosting or radio work.
— Julie Gordon
20 July 2008
19 July 2008
It was 35 years ago that Margarita Moran of the Philippines was crowned the new Miss Universe in the most spectacular venue ever, Athens, Greece. It was the only Miss Universe pageant held out of doors and has never been equalled. Here's Margarita strutting her stuff in a resplendent vision of yellow feathers. A true bird of paradise.
18 July 2008
From noses to hips, Rwandans start to redefine beauty
A history of identity politics – and genocide – is challenged by university beauty pageants.
By Jina Moore Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor from the July 18, 2008 edition
Butare, Rwanda - Sandra Uwimbabazi knows runways – she's modeled for years – but she stumbled on a recent Saturday here.
A tall, slender young law student, Uwimbabazi was one of eight women vying to win Rwanda's most high-profile beauty competition.
On her second lap around the stage, she misstepped in her high heels – but didn't fall. The graceful save as much as her beauty may have won her the title. Poise, some observers said afterward, is now more important than being pretty.
The comment reflects a tension over defining Rwandan beauty. Here the shape of one's nose, hips, or eyes are overlaid with political and historical meaning. During the 1994 genocide, "the first fact was to see the nose to tell if this is a Tutsi or this is a Hutu," says Cyrille Nshimiyimana, a second-year medical student, who was among the 3,000 people packed into the National University auditorium for the Miss Nyampinga contest.
As the nation moves beyond the tragic events of 1994, traditional standards of Rwandan beauty may be changing – or at least are being challenged.
"Beauty contests are used to assert a national identity, particularly in instances where and in places where a national identity is problematic," says Maxine Leeds Craig, an associate professor of sociology at the University of California-Davis and author of "Ain't I a Beauty Queen?: Black Women, Beauty and the Politics of Race."
The pageant stage is a space Rwandans are using to serve two national objectives: advancing gender equality and fostering national unity.
"I had an agenda to promote gender another step," says John Peter Higiro, a fourth-year medical student who founded the Miss Nyampinga competition, which includes students from other major Rwandan institutes of higher learning, at the National University of Rwanda four years ago. The contest encourages women to assert their intelligence and personality, though women have downplayed such characteristics "in our tradition," he says.
Joseph Habineza, whose Ministry of Culture and Sports sponsors the competition, agrees. "They're shy," he says of Rwandan women, "but we want a new Rwandan style.... We really have to liberate them. So it's sort of an emboldening initiative."
It's also a bold step in a country where physical stereotypes have had deadly consequences.
"She must be pretty, in her face and body.... She must have small eyes," says Mr. Nshimiyimana, the medical student. "But we don't look at the nose. Here in Rwanda, we have a problem [with] the nose," he says, referring to how Tutsis were singled out in the 1994 genocide.
An estimated 800,000 Tutsis were murdered by Hutu militias in an event scholars say had its origins in a long history of oppression initiated by Belgian colonists – and propped up by racist notions of European beauty.
"There is what was called the Hamitic hypothesis," explains Jean Leonard Buhigiro, a professor of history at the Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) in Rwanda's capital. European explorers, and then Belgian colonizers, "tried to describe Rwanda according to social classes, then identified one social class as European ... and the other social group [as] a group which is ugly."
Like most Rwandans, he won't use the words "Hutu" or "Tutsi" – usually considered ethnic groups by outsiders (the terms were legally abolished in Rwanda in 2004). But history makes Buhigiro's meaning clear.
Belgian administrative reports describe Tutsis' "high brow, thin nose, and fine lips." One colonial missionary called them "European[s] under black skin."
Most attendees at the Butare beauty contest won't discuss facial features. The definition of beauty that dominates the pageant world isn't far from what, in Rwanda, is still taboo.
"There is facially an international standard of beauty that is more European," says Professor Craig. "I don't think a woman with an exceptionally broad nose would win an international beauty contest.... On top of that ... is the hair. Can a woman with unstraightened African hair be crowned a beauty? I doubt it."
These debates are ever-present subtexts as pageants grow in popularity here. Miss Nyampinga organizers have drafted their own criteria on the minimum and maximum height and weigh requirements by averaging standards from American, British, and French competitions.
This spring, at the first Miss KIE competition, an audience debate erupted about whether a true Rwandan beauty should be light- or dark-skinned. At the National University, students argued over how curvy the winner should be.
"The more there is this kind of contention, the more aware people are that beauty is political," says Richard Wilk, co-editor of "Beauty Queens on the Global Stage." "There is no kind of absolute standard."
Minister Habineza says beauty pageants recall pre-colonial days. The king of Rwanda once held a competition to choose a wife, he says. The organizers evoked that era by naming the contest "Miss Nyampinga," a traditional word for a woman who embodies physical beauty, social grace, and compassion.
"Some people say, 'This will create division, because beautiful ladies must be tall,' " he says. "But tall doesn't mean to be a Tutsi. And also being short doesn't mean to be a Hutu."
Some students hope that being called beautiful might become as unpredictable.
Alyce Akineza, a journalism student and co-master of ceremonies at Miss Nyampinga, got a round of applause when she said one day, beautiful might not just mean thin. "In case people were wondering, Rwandan women, we look more like this," Akineza said, grabbing her thick hips, "than that," and she gestured toward the contestants, most of whom were Milan-model thin.
"Is there any way we can have a Miss like me?" she asked. "We could call it, 'Fat Almost Beautiful Girls.' Or 'Chubby Girls' Or 'Normal Women.'"Source: Christian Science Monitor
17 July 2008
As a single mom, Dayanara could not find a handbook that said: “This happened to me. Now, let’s move forward.” So, in Married to Me, she walks women through the critical stages of redefining their life after a divorce: accepting and preparing, rebuilding, and rediscovering happiness and self. Dayanara offers honest advice, personal mantras, and effective tips on family, lifestyle, beauty, and health, so that women can learn to move beyond the pain and tears, establish a new family dynamic, discover new passions, and build new relationships. Like Dayanara, readers will discover a life within themselves that is beyond their wildest dreams.
16 July 2008
During the weekly staff meeting at Beauty School, where the meaning of Jerry Springer and Mel B were on the agenda, we heard the inimitable click, click, click of our librarian's high heels out in the hall. This usually means she's delivering us an envelope. Sure enough, she did, with this note "Boys, I know you are in Miss Universe withdrawal syndrome, thought you'd like this article. Luv Ya, Lorraine." It's a delicious story of how a man who had a sex-change entered a beauty pageant and won. It took place in Italy in 1990. Seem' the hairdresser for the pageant recognized a tatoo on the newly annointed queen that she remembered she had helped draw years before on a man. She alerted the judges and the new "queen" was stripped of her title. The dethroned title holder sniffed, "They accepted me as woman and that what I am." Hey we dont' make this stuff up, we just report it.
15 July 2008
14 July 2008
By Toni Fitzgerald
Jul 14, 2008
Media Life Magazine
Miss USA wasn’t the only one to stumble last night. NBC’s “Miss Universe” pageant took a fall as well, down 9 percent from last year and likely earning its lowest-rating ever, though it still won its timeslot.
“Universe” averaged a 4.1 household rating from 9 to 11 p.m., according to Nielsen overnights, off from last year’s previous all-time low, a 4.5. Among viewers 18-49, the year-to-year dip was even steeper, 20 percent, from a 2.5 to a 2.0.
But a decline was probably to be expected after the pageant was moved from late May to early July, when TV viewing levels are well off from the end of May sweeps. That left “Universe” without a strong promotional platform, on a night where the networks have been posting low ratings throughout the summer.
The show wasn’t helped by its very low-rated lead-ins, a Jim Cramer special at 7 p.m. that drew a mere 0.4 and a repeat of “America’s Got Talent” that averaged a 1.1 at 8 p.m.
Still, “Universe” won its two-hour timeslot in households, barely outdrawing CBS’s 3.8. It was also tops in total viewers (6.6 million), adults 25-54 and women 18-49.
Miss Venezuela took the crown in the Donald Trump-owned pageant, but it was Miss USA, Crystle Stewart, who attracted much of the attention today. She tripped during the evening gown competition, marking the second straight year a Miss USA has done so.
Take Five" means to take a break, but we doubt the people of Venezuela are taking a break. More likely, they are celebrating as their country takes home its fifth Miss Universe title. Dayana Mendoza now joins the hallowed company of Maritza, Irene, Barbara and Alicia. Congratulations.
13 July 2008
NHA TRANG, Vietnam (AFP) - Miss USA has no idea whether she'll take the crown at the Miss Universe contest on Monday, but she's already decided who's got her vote in the White House race - Barack Obama.
One of 80 hopefuls in the global beauty pageant to be held in Vietnam, 26-year-old Crystle Stewart said while she admired both candidates, she was more drawn to the Democratic hopeful.
"I like Barack Obama -- just his poise and the way he motivates people -- and that's something that draws me," said the Texan beauty, who works as a motivational speaker and is writing a book called "Waiting to Win."
Asked if she would vote for Obama, she said: "That's a secret, but yes!"
"John McCain is an American hero," she said of the Republican Party hopeful, a senator from Arizona and former naval pilot who spent five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
"I'm actually kind of torn because I think he's a great person, he's older and he might be a little bit wiser," she told AFP on the eve of the Miss Universe contest, to be broadcast Sunday evening US time.
"But Obama's on the higher end of the list," she added.
Stewart said she was proud to represent the United States in an event held in Vietnam, once America's battlefield enemy, because the show could act as a bridge between the countries and help post-war reconciliation.
"That was 30 years ago, and we had a terrible conflict, but now we're working together, and I think this will show everyone that USA and Vietnam can be very friendly and cordial to each other," she said.
"Hopefully we can be role models to other countries, to work in cooperation and peace together... It's bringing the countries closer together."
In Japan, Miss Universe highlights new idea of beauty
by Kanako Nakanishi, 13-Jul-2008
TOKYO (AFP) - Covering her face with her hands, 20-year-old Riyo Mori of Japan heard the MC's voice and the thunderous cheering of the crowd telling one year ago that she was the new Miss Universe.
With a 250,000-dollar tiara on her head, Mori walked confidently on the stage as Japan's first Miss Universe in 48 years as an estimated one billion people watched around the world on television.
But it was not only Mori who was surprised. Watching back in Tokyo, Madoka Niino, a 28-year-old working in an advertising agency, thought that perceptions of beauty in Japan were finally changing.
"Beautiful women traditionally were supposed to be reticent and dedicated," she said, pointing to the portrayal of Japanese women in Hollywood.On Monday, 21-year-old Hiroko Mima, who was chosen among 4,000 candidates here, will represent Japan in hopes that the country can retain its newfound status as a beauty pageant powerhouse.
Ines Ligron, a French woman who has trained Japanese contestants for Miss Universe for 10 years, sees an evolution in Japanese women.
"They are becoming much more outgoing, confident and opinionated. They feel free to challenge themselves on a global level, which was unheard of before," Ligron told AFP.
Mori is hoping to start her own dance school in Japan. In 2006, Kurara Chibana was runner-up in the Miss Universe competition and is hoping to work internationally as a reporter.
Beniko Kishi, the CEO of a company that runs several beauty and lifestyle brands, said Japan was a very different place than in the years after World War II, when Western concepts of beauty were held on a pedestal.
"Since the end of the war, Japanese had been blindly following the Western standard of beauty and they tried so hard to imitate and look like Western models or actresses regardless of our physical differences," she said.
"But in recent years, Japanese have stopped looking only outside and started looking inside again. They are beginning to find their identity (of) being beautiful in the way they are," she said.
The change can be seen in the advertising world, where Japanese models and actresses have replaced Westerners as the faces of beauty products.
Leading cosmetic maker Shiseido recently launched an advertising campaign for its Tsubaki shampoo with the slogan, "Japanese women are beautiful."
"Women today choose products and services for their own measurements. They always ask themselves if it suits for them," Kishi said.
She said that the trend extended beyond appearance. More women are flocking to fitness and yoga clubs or choosing to eat organic food.
"Women now know that beauty is growing from the inside. You cannot hide it with expensive cosmetics anymore, so it is essential to look closely inside and to build a better condition," Kishi said.
Tokyo and other big Japanese cities have witnessed a boom in after-hours schools where women can take how-to advice in beauty and lifestyle and earn certificates.
"Recently I feel that there is a belief that women are considered to be beautiful when they strike a perfect balance between their career, household and beauty," said Mikiko Koyama, a 25-year-old consultant.
Ligron said she was trying to give Japanese contestants in Miss Universe more self-confidence and not simply focusing on their appearance.
"I personally hate the idea of 'beauty queens' because I would never consider manufacturing packaged-women to represent their countries on a global stage. Instead, I try to enhance the best of their personalities and minds and try to place invisible wings for them to fly high," she said.
She defended Miss Universe from critics who charge that beauty pageants demean women by putting them in a competition for approval.
"10 years ago, I believed that beauty pageants were just a joke -- old-fashioned and completely empty of any outcome for the girls entering them," she admitted.
But she said that with the Miss Universe Organisation, "I started to understand the reward of helping young girls find their inner beauties.""Now I believe what beauty pageants teach young girls is how to achieve their goals in life. It teaches them to believe in themselves," she said.