beauty a business or pleasure?
seems embarrassing in a country that prides itself on its
literacy to be talking about a competition that hinges so
much on a body in a swimsuit. But even nattily-suited marketing
professionals will concede the power of a strong presence
in these widely viewed competitions.
photo in yesterdays Guardian offers some insight into
the larger issue of beauty competitions in T&T. Its
a press release photo of five women from the competition.
Four are holding trophies won in various aspects of the
competition, but only two are also holding their national
flags, Miss Venezuela, Hannely Zulami Qiuntero Ledezma and
Miss T&T, Gabrielle Walcott, the second runner-up in
This kind of presence of mind and awareness of the mission
in the midst of the hectic and glittering end-run of a beauty
competition can only happen when careful planning and clear
thinking triumph over adrenaline.
Congratulations are certainly due to Ms Walcott, who copped
the Beauty with a Purpose title for her work
with the Just Because Foundation and was a finalist in the
Best Dress competition, wearing the work of
local designer Bobby Ackbarali.
More kudos are due to Peter Elias and his team, who worked
to prepare Ms Walcott for the competition in the face of
that curious combination of national enthusiasm and official
indifference that T&T has long offered to the local
franchise owners of the Miss Universe and Miss World competitions.
In the face of this frustrating dichotomy, Mr Elias, the
franchise holder for both competitions since the turn of
the century, announced while congratulations were showered
on him for this bronze triumph that he would be giving up
is the end of the road for me, he said.
Mr Elias had long signalled his annoyance with the uncertainty
of support for the competitions, which occupy a curious
place in the national consciousness. Winning queens have
been enthusiastically supported and lauded by the government
of the day, but everyone in-between those wins has reigned
in a limbo of Tobago love.
Ms Walcott was about to board her flight to South Africa
and Anya Ayoung-Chee was long returned from Vietnam when
the Government finally gave a subvention to Mr Elias to
support this years mission of these two young women
to the world.
Beauty competitions have long been a ticklish subject for
us. It seems embarrassing in a country that prides itself
on its literacy to be talking about a competition that hinges
so much on a body in a swimsuit. But even nattily-suited
marketing professionals will concede the power of a strong
presence in these widely viewed competitions.
Venezuela has long reconciled any ambivalence it might have
had about the curious nature of beauty competitions, beginning
with its first win in 1955.
Our neighbour country works at the outer edge of the competitions
rules under the hand of Osmel Sousa, who has run the Miss
Venezuela competition for 27 years, most recently for Cisneros
local Venevision television station.
Mr Sousa employs dental and plastic surgery specialists
who have worked on many of the contestants in the local
competitions and some of the many Miss Universe, Miss World
and Miss International titles that the country has won.
Venezuela has won the Miss Universe and Miss World competitions
simultaneously on two occasions, a feat only matched by
Venezuelas success at beauty competitions was, until
Mr Chavez drift into oil-funded socialism, that countrys
claim to fame in most first world countries.
Venevisions contract with its contestants claims a
percentage of their winnings, but no business model beyond
patronage exists for local efforts at driving a successful
mining of T&Ts own assets.
The sole effort at hosting an international beauty competition
in T&T is still to be proved a value proposition.
Until this country can find a way to reconcile its enthusiasm
for celebrating beauty with tangible returns on the investments
that are necessary for success in the business, local franchise
holders will remain doomed to a cycle of accolade and abnegation
in their efforts to build a business that many desire but
nobody seems to want.