Mar 16, 2014 News
By Rehana Ahamad & Kiana Wilburg
In some countries, preparation for a pageant goes way beyond aiming for physical perfection. It involves an expertly tailored menu for the mind and spiritual upliftment.
Pageantry is seen as a woman’s display of her care and commitment towards being a role model in terms of highlighting and observing the principles of life and embodying the refinement of womanhood.
The contestant is trained to treat her responsibilities as sacred and to understand that her duties thereafter must be fulfilled to the best of her abilities. With this as the generally accepted standard, it would be pertinent to enquire if the coordinators of local pageants pay the required attention to the training of contestants. But before we place our “package” under a microscope, let’s examine just a few of those for some countries abroad.
In the USA, contestants are provided with a wide range of choices. These range from online training, to Pageant Prep classes and then possibly the ultimate Pageant Academy. The woman, who dares to enter the pageant unprepared, is deemed as, “simply leaving too much to chance.”
Not to prepare is sometimes considered, the “unforgiveable sin” in the pageant world.
Pageant Prep for example helps young women through several tested techniques to overcome anxiety and build confidence for those few critical life-changing hours. Training is also done to help the selected candidates develop skills to facilitate showcasing their refined image throughout the pageant. It also provides vital information on how to deliver the best answer during the “dreaded final question.”
Headshots and image consultation classes in addition to training on modeling, talent enhancement, platform development, fitness and nutrition and even counseling on personal presentations are provided.
In the case of the Pageant Academy where training is extremely stringent, there are specific areas that are catered for. These include; Interview and Media Training, Fitness and Nutrition, Wardrobe and Accessories Consultation and Selection, Pageant-Specific Makeup and Hair Lessons, Walking, Stage Presence and Modeling, Communication and Confidence, Education and Self Improvement, Focus and Goal Setting, Community Service and finally Application, Resume and biography.
Latin American countries have been known to lift numerous crowns at international pageants.
In Venezuela, the world of pageantry is much like a national sport. There is a rigorous regimen. Pageant preparations have been described as being somewhat bizarre. Many have even referred to the preparations school there as a military camp. Wondering why? Well get this, in that country, the girls are shipped to a beauty school high in the mountains where they are told to lose 20 pounds, eat tuna, pineapple and “green leaves” and made to run, lift weights, hike, swim and do yoga every single day.
Yes, that does sound pretty hectic, but do note that the preparation which would qualify a young lady the chance to steal an international crown does not end there. The contestants are coached to perfect their physique, speech, makeup and modeling.
The aim is to “make them perfect.” And imagine this, the contestants are on the go from eight in the morning to ten at night. Things get a lot more difficult for those who are headed for international competitions, as they have to remain at the school for as long as one year.
Additionally, natural beauty is often times tampered with, as there is the affordable option of plastic surgery. Many of the contestants in Venezuela explore the options of getting nose jobs, liposuction and breast implants. The beauty school even employs dental doctors who have been known to cut girls’ gums so their teeth look bigger.
Admittedly, some of the preparation tactics are extreme, but it goes to show how much effort and money Venezuelans put into having their country well represented on the international scene.
In India the preparation is also intense. When contestants are chosen for pageants they are housed in a training camp for approximately one month where meticulous training is done. During this period the young ladies are refined in several areas. These include Fashion and styling, Heath and Fitness, modeling, spirituality, conduct and seminars on how to exude the presence of a queen.
Each category is headed by an expert who is designated to training the women and transforming them into queens. Even a dermatologist is hired to ensure that skin care is paid attention to. A hair specialist, dental surgeon, a diction coach, grooming expert and a makeup artist are also attached to the transformation booth camp.
The training in essence is done to transform the women’s understanding of womanhood and life. This process is not just about aiming for physical perfection, as delegates undergo several training seminars on the “do’s and don’ts” of proper conduct. And this of course is a very important aspect of the programme as contestants, if chosen to be the queen, will have to interact with diplomats, ministers and even heads of state.
They are even trained on how to speak on controversial topics.
Potential queens are also taught that they must also possess a certain tone of voice and as such, women in India are given several lessons in voice intonation. And just when you thought this must be the ideal power transformation programme, another element was added.
Past queens were summoned to deliver presentations to the potential winners on how they can possibly secure the title and sound advice on how to answer the final question.
Now fast forward to our delegates who prepare for the international pageants.
When contacted, several of the past queens and participants had much to say, but asked that their names not be mentioned. But in speaking on the training for pageants, it was unanimous that these activities leave so much to be desired. In fact, a former Miss Guyana Universe contestant described it as being “extremely poor.”
“The pageant coordinators do not take the preparation aspect seriously, in my opinion. There is no provision for quality trainers to assist us and I feel as if we are being set up to fail. Going into a pageant on the international level with the preparation we do says a lot about the mindset of the people. It seems as though the only thing they prepare us to say is our name, age and that we’re from Guyana. There clearly is need for much intervention.”
It is obviously not a case where our beauties are not pretty enough or worthy of wearing an international crown, because they are. But are we treating such lofty endeavours with the required importance?
“Our local pageants are held too close to the international one, and while other countries have been undergoing months and sometimes even years of training, we are told weeks before to prepare, and this is not done. We have beautiful, talented and intelligent women who just need a little more attention and some more time to prepare,” a former Miss India Guyana contestant said.
Some of the beauties opined that oftentimes the franchise holders of these pageants are to be blamed, since many of them have their own motives, and do not always do what is right in representing Guyana in the best way possible.
“The franchise holders need to do better, because it is clear that many of them don’t care about the image that we portray of Guyana, and instead of ensuring that the potential queens are well groomed and prepared to tackle all that would be thrown at them, when they are asked to represent their country,” a former queen posited.
She noted too that Guyana’s representatives usually head to international pageants with the aim of making their country look like a paradise, “but because we don’t know exactly what to expect, we often end up letting ourselves down, because we feel we didn’t do justice to our country.”
“I’m not saying that we would always win, but they should at least try to provide us with something of a level playing field with the delegates from the other countries.”
Having interviewed a number of former contestants, we learnt that little or no provision is made for training on diction, modeling, mannerism or conduct. No provision for health and fitness…or dental care. Or the all-important final question. We will stop there.
On a brighter note, our contestants for the upcoming Miss World Guyana pageant are being given tips on how to apply their makeup via videos along with some written information. Very encouraging!
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