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Beauty With Attitude

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     1. Tell us a little about yourself, your family background, education, and how you became Miss  Earth New Caledonia 2015.
    My name is Julia Roquigny, I am 20 and I was born in New Caledonia where I grew up. I have a 15-year old sister. I am Indonesian and jJapanese on my mother's side and French on my father's side. Most of the family on my mother's side live in New Caledonia and most of they family on my father's side live in France. I go visit them regularly.
    I am Miss New Caledonia 2015's first runner up and Miss Earth New Caledonia . I have a master in sciences of Life, Earth and Environment.

    2. How did you become interested in pageants?
    I have been interested in pageants since I can remember! As a little girl I used to watch pageants, most notably Miss New Caledonia and Miss France because we could watch them on TV with my mother and my sister. Every year, I follow those two pageants and most recently I started to pay attention to international beauty pageants thanks to the Internet. 

    3. How does it feel to represent New Caledonia in Miss Earth 2015?
    I feel so honored and proud. It's an incredible opportunity to represent my island at the Miss Earth pageant with 90 other girls. The most important thing is that it is also the very first time that my country is competing at this pageant. I love my island and showcasing it to the world is an immense joy for me

    4. Give three adjectives that your family would describe you.
    Gentle, approachable, persevering !

    5. Tell us about one life-changing experience in your life.
    I spent 6 months in Quebec, Canada for my 2nd year at University. This experience was so rich and it taught me a lot. It was the first time I lived abroad on my own, the first time I studied in a foreign country, there were new ways to learn, to study - a new country, a new culture - and I made myself a lot of new friends. I learned how to live and to manage myself on my own and face all the difficulties as a concerned adult.

    6. The 16th-century English philosopher and author Francis Bacon once said, "The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express." Do you agree with this statement?
    Completely! Francis Bacon is talking about what we would call inner beauty. For me, a person's inner beauty is what will make her or him shine, as well as qualities like a good heart, being attentive to others and having passion within. These are things no picture can express but a picture can catch what the eyes of a beautiful person within can express such as kindness, goodness and wisdom, and this is why I also agree with the saying, "The eyes are the windows to the soul".

    7. Name three things that you would never do.
    Jump into the void. Eat some animals. Hurt someone

    8. Name one of your strengths and one of your weaknesses.
    My strength is my integrity and my weakness is my indecisiveness.

    9. If you were to make a time capsule to represent life today, what would you put in it? 
    I would put picture of the people I love because they represent what my life is today, I will also put all my most precious souvenirs. I would also put a plastic bottle and a plastic bag, in the hope that future generation wouldn't know what it is, meaning that we have finally managed to get rid of it. I would also add water in a glass jar as water is life and an important part of us and is becoming rare unfortunately. I would add seeds of organic plants because they create or refine the oxygen we breathe.

    10.  If you woke up tomorrow and gained any one ability or quality, what would you want it to be and why?
    Infinite memory! I would love to be able to memorize everything and know everything, the good and the bad. 

    11. What makes New Caledonia unique compared to the other Pacific islands?
    What makes New Caledonia unique compared to the other Pacific Islands is its diversity. Our landscapes, unique biodiversity and it's people. It is a blend of cultures. You can find a mix of ethnicities, communities, a wonderful mix!

    12. What do you think is the biggest environmental problem facing New Caledonia and what can you do about it?
    The biggest issue we have to deal with is waste management. This has repercussions on many levels, on our fauna, on our flora, on our health, on our ecosystems. As an ambassador to the environment, I work on making my people aware of these environmental issues. I participate in projects with local organisations in New Caledonia. I teach my fellow citizens to be eco-responsible and eco-friendly and just to be a good example.

    13. How will you motivate others to practice sustainable living choices? 
    We have to make people understand that it is easy! People can think that it is difficult because you have to change your habits, that your life is going to be disturbed but it is not! It is a small act for the well-being of the planet and all things living. Every small act counts. We must keep on showing the risks than can happen or in some cases are already happening if we continue to live as we are. We have to show a good example, clean up the mangroves, plant trees, visit schools to teach young kids.

    14. What makes you happy?
    I love being with people with a positive attitude and with people I love. I am also happy to make people happy. I also get great satisfaction when my hard work is rewarded.

    15. Why do you want to be Miss Earth 2015?
    The title of Miss Earth is prestigious. Miss Earth representd our Mother Earth, our nourishing planet and allows us to live. Being its ambassador would be an honor and I would dedicate myself 200% in protecting our planet.

    Julie's Favorites

    Singer/Musician – Norah Jones

    Actor - Christian Bale

    Actress – Meryl Streep

    Color – Blue

    Fashion Designer – Elie Saab

    Perfume – Alien by Thierry Mugler

    Flower – Hibiscus

    Writer – Molière

    Book – Tristan and Iseult

    Movie – The Theory of everything

    Quote – In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different, Coco Chanel


    Critical Beauty wishes the best of luck to Julia in Miss Earth 2015!

    And thank you to Heairii Robinson for facilitating the interview!

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    Anastasia Lin

    Image copyrightPIERRE GAUTREAU
    Anastasia Lin, the winner of Miss World Canada, says that she has been denied the right to compete in this year's Miss World competition because she has spoken out about Chinese human rights abuses.
    The 25-year-old Chinese-born actress did not receive an invitation letter from the Chinese government that would allow her to take part in the Miss World competition this December in Sanya, China.
    Without the letter Lin is unable to apply for a visa, and because the opening ceremony is on 23 November, the opportunity to compete is fading fast. The deadline to receive the letter came and went on Friday.
    "Miss World's official line is that if I don't make it to the opening ceremony, I probably can't enter this year. If I'm a few days late it might be OK, but the window is closing. At this point I don't want to give up," Lin told the BBC.
    Other contestants received their letters at the end of October.
    Anastaisia LinImage copyrightLisa Fan
    Image captionLin testified about Falun Gong in front of the US Congress in July
    Since winning the crown in May, Lin was praised by many for her outspoken opposition to China's record of human rights violations. She has particularly focused on defending Falun Gong, a spiritual group that the Chinese government regards as a cult.
    Chinese law allows for the arrest of anyone suspected of supporting religious movements that aren't approved by the state.
    Lin's moved from China to Canada in 2003. Her interest in human rights began when she heard the stories of other Chinese citizens who said they were targeted by the government.
    She has since performed in films about the abuse of Falun Gong members and spoken about the subject to a US Congressional committee in July.
    Ike Lalji, chief executive of Miss World Canada, has said that Canada won't send a runner-up to China if Lin is unable to attend as it would be too late since training starts on Saturday.
    Lin says that she has spoken to former Chinese Miss World contestants who agree with her stance on China's human rights policies, but didn't want to speak out for fear of risking their own ability to get a visa.
    "I'm not speaking without fear, as I've seen the repercussions," Lin says.
    Miss South Africa and the 2014 Miss World, Rolene Strauss (C), dances with first runner up Miss Hungary Edina Kulcsar (L) and second runner up Miss United States Elizabeth Safrit (R) during the grand final of the Miss World 2014 pageantImage copyrightGetty Images
    Image captionLast year's pageant was held in London, with Miss South Africa crowned the winner
    After she won the competition earlier this year, Lin's father was contacted by Chinese security forces. They threatened that there would be consequences if Lin continued to speak out. As her father still lives in China, Lin is concerned.
    "Dad's really scared. He doesn't really dare to talk to me as he worries his phone is tapped. He doesn't speak his mind anymore."
    However, she wants to use her position with Miss World to highlight the issue and defend the Chinese people's right to free speech.
    "I'm alone and don't even have any family around me, so it's very difficult. Miss World is an international organisation, and if organisations like this don't speak up against the bullying of their own contestants it will continue. China knows it works and they'll just use it again and again until someone stands up to them."
    Regardless of whether Lin gains the right to compete or not, she has said that she will use her position to speak out for human rights. After failing to receive papers on Friday, she is considering a petition to protest against the decision.
    "If I'm able to go to China, I want the people to see me. They already know about me and my story as they can go around the firewall. I want them to see I've been true to my conscience, and that they can do it too."
    The BBC reached out to Miss World Canada and the Chinese Consulates in Toronto and Ottawa but did not receive a response.

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     Taiwan's representative at Miss Earth 2015 says she has been kicked out of the pageant for refusing to wear a sash that reads "Miss Chinese Taipei" instead of the "Miss Taiwan ROC" that she is now currently wearing.

    In a Facebook post published earlier today, 22-year-old Ting Wen-yin revealed that she had been warned before she made her way to Vienna, where the pageant was being held, of the possibility of political pressure from China.
    "I told them 30,000 times that Taiwan is Taiwan," a defiant Ting wrote. "I was born in Taiwan, my sash now says Taiwan, I represent Taiwan, and I'm going to use the name of Taiwan in appearing at this pageant."
    "Their response to me was, 'change your sash or just leave'. Today, they did not allow me to stand on stage and photographers were not allowed to take my pictures."

    Ting is however not too beat up about leaving the competition behind. In her Facebook post, she told her fans not to be taken in by the glamorous images coming out from the pageant.
    Organisers failed to provide lunch for contestants on two occasions, nor the time to buy their own lunch, she complained. Dinner was either some bread or some rather unappetising pasta with tomato sauce. "Over the last three nights, we were shuffled from nightclub to nightclub, wearing beautiful clothes to talk and dance with men. I felt like a club hostess," she fumed. "So it might be a blessing in disguise that I'm out of this contest. We paid large sums of money to enter the contest, but we're treated little better than prisoners."
    Since the inception of the pageant in 2001, Taiwan's contestant has been represented as "Miss Taiwan R.O.C". In 2007 it became the first international beauty pageant to host delegates from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Tibet, despite the political sensitivities. The blowback came swiftly though as the delegate from Tibet was made to wear a sash reading "Miss Tibet-China." That was to be the last year a Miss Tibet was present at the pageant. In recent years, Miss Hong Kong and Miss Macau have also disappeared altogether from the competition.

    Hopefuls from across the straits have represented their territory under various different guises over the past few decades. Throughout the 1990s, Taiwan was represented at major international pageants, including Miss World and Miss Tourism, as "Miss China."
    At Miss Universe, Taiwan's contestant wore the sash, "Miss Taiwan, R.O.C." up until the early 2000s. The watershed moment appears to have been in 2003, when the island's representative, Beverly Chen, succumbed to pressure and put on the "Miss Chinese Taipei" sash.
    Chen told journalists tearfully at a press conference at the time that she was given two sashes by pageant organisers, one reading "Miss Taiwan" and the other "Chinese Taipei."
    "I was told to wear the Chinese Taipei one in front of the media. The Miss Taiwan one was only for occasions where the media were absent." Shocked and humiliated by the treatment, Chen says she was taken aback as Panama was one of few countries in the world that had full diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
    In another recent landmark case highlighting the treacherous waters of politics in international beauty pageants,Miss World Canada, Anastasia Lin, says she has been blocked by Chinese authorities from the Miss World pageant.
    The Hunan-born beauty queen who is also a human rights advocate and Falun Gong practitioner, also claims that her father, who is now still living in China, has been on the receiving end of threats from Chinese security agents because of her human rights advocacy.

    SOURCE:, 11/22/2015

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    RESISTANCE TO TYRANNY comes in many forms, but Anastasia Lin may be first activist to take the fight against dictatorship to the glittery ranks of a beauty pageant.
    Lin, a 25-year-old actress and model, was crowned Miss World Canada in May. By rights, she should have been in the Chinese resort city of Sanya for the welcoming ceremony of the 2015 Miss World competition last Monday.
    But Lin, who was born in China, is an outspoken advocate for freedom of conscience in her native land. She has used every platform available to her to raise public awareness of China’s harrowing human rights record — portraying victims of Chinese corruption and repression in award-winning films, describing inbroadcast interviews and newspaper essays what China does to its dissenters, and even testifying on the subject before a congressional committee.
    Competing in beauty pageants was another way Lin sought to draw attention to the plight of the persecuted. When she first pursued the Miss World Canada title in 2013, notes The Toronto Star, she performed a piano composition dedicated to “those who lost their life for their faith and the millions of people still fighting for their faith today.” She launched her bid for the 2015 crown with a video underscoring her wish to extend “light and courage to those who still find themselves in the dark.”
    Beijing’s communist rulers have no intention of giving Lin an even bigger platform from which to speak out. She is the only Miss World contestant who didn’t receive a visa application from the host country in time to take her place for the 2015 pageant’s opening rounds. It would be heartening to report that the Miss World brass went ballistic when it became clear that Lin was being excluded, and raised holy hell with Chinese authorities to get her admitted.
    Alas, the pageant’s attitude toward the strong-willed Canadian beauty has been rather less supportive. When London-based Miss World Ltd. was asked whether it would consider moving the 2015 program if China insisted on blackballing Lin, a spokesperson sniffed: “If we cancel or move the show each time a visa was not granted for a contestant, then it would be impossible to plan the event.”
    Though the official Miss World website still lists Lin as a contestant, her photo was removed days ago. On Wednesday, Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper reported that the Chinese government considered Lin “persona non grata,” putting an endto any realistic hopes she had of competing for this year’s crown.
    Lin doesn’t come from a dissident background. As a little girl in China’s Hunan province, she became president of her school’s student council, and readily organized viewings of pro-government propaganda. She recalls screening a video that demonized adherents of Falun Gong — a humble discipline of meditation, breathing exercises, and Buddhist-inspired spiritual readings — and encouraging students to publicly declare their hatred for those who practice it.
    Two years later Lin emigrated from China, moving with her mother to Canada. Only then did she come to understand the enormity of the regime she had left behind, and especially its implacable hostility toward Falun Gong practitioners. Tens of thousands of victims, guilty of nothing more than controlled breathing and mindful contemplation, have been arrested, tortured, and even killed. The more Lin learned, the more passionate she became about advocating for China’s oppressed citizens.
    Lin’s advocacy comes with the anguished knowledge of the fear it causes her loved ones.
    Shortly after winning the Miss Canada crown last spring, she learned that her father, who still lives in China, was visited at his home by government security officials warning him to stifle his daughter — or else. He had overflowed with pride when Lin won the Canadian pageant, but days later he sent an urgent plea: Stop talking about human rights. A survivor of the Cultural Revolution, he was terrified by thoughts of what the government might to do him if his daughter’s activism continued. When she told him she couldn’t keep silent, that letting Beijing intimidate her into muteness would only intensify its ruthlessness, he broke off all contact.
    Totalitarian regimes scruple at nothing — not the political manipulation of international beauty contests, not the criminalizing of quiet meditation, not even the blackmail of a father to break his daughter’s spirit. The courage to resist such regimes isn’t easy to come by. Canada’s beauty queen has it in such gallant measure that China fears to let her speak from a Chinese stage. Some other young woman may be crowned Miss World, but it is Anastasia Lin who has been ennobled.

    By Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe, 11/29/2015

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    1. Tell us a little about yourself, your family background, education, and how you became Miss Universe Argentina.

    I was born in the city of Salta. I live with my mother Mercedes in a town called El Carril. I have a sister named Cynthia and a brother named Carlos, and two nephews ,Santino and Geronimo. My father died in a tragic motorcycle accident when I was only one-year old and my mother took care of the entire family.When I was 16, I was discovered by Incanto Models which introduced her to the modeling world. I am a student of Educational Psychology, but I took a break from school to prepare for Miss Universe Salta which I won, and eventually I was crowned Miss Universe Argentina 2015.

    2. If you could meet anyone dead or alive celebrity, who would it be and why?
    Pope Francis! Not because he is the leader of the Catholic Church but I think he has extraordinary gifts that exceed all religions, such as his extreme humility, charity and power of integration. and I think I could learn a lot from meeting him. Likewise, because he is the first Latino and Argentine Pope, and that as a citizen of my country, that makes me feel extremely proud.

    3. What is something that most people do not know about Argentina?
    It is a very large country bordering five countries (Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay), which by extension has a great diversity of climate, topography, flora, fauna, and is comprised of a variety of races, which makes it a country with great culture.

    4. What are your interests and hobbies?
    My primary interest right now is to finish my studies in Educational Psychology because I've always been interested in everything related to this issue. Ever since I was a child, I had difficulty relating to the other kids and I was always the quietest in a group or among friends, and as an adult I wanted to use this life experience to help other children who have gone or are going through the same situation. Also, my primary interest at this time is to win Miss Universe and give my country its second crown of the world's most important pageant.
    My hobbies include traveling because I like to see new places, share cultures, and experience life in another country. I have had the opportunity to travel to the United States, Uruguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, Germany and China. I had the opportunity of having lived three years in Costa Rica since the beginning of 2012 to mid-2015 when I returned to Argentina to compete in Salta and then Miss Universe Argentina. I also love reading and cinema.

    5. Who has had the greatest influence on your life? Why?

    My mother had had the greatest influence on my life, because since childhood she taught me to fight for my dreams, to be persistent and to work to achieve my goals. She has supported all my decisions and has respected my freedom of choice. Today, I can say that I have become the woman and human being that I am thanks to the values instilled in every aspect of my life by my mother Mercedes.

    6. What is your proudest personal accomplishment?
    I am proud to volunteer at the annual collections at Christmas time, where we help many needy families so they can spend the holidays in a better way and all the children of those families can receive surprise presents on Christmas Day here in my city of Salta.

    7. Do you collect anything? If so, tell us about your collection.

    Yes, I collect tea. In every place I go, I buy some variety of tea that I am not familiar with or some variety typical of the place. And when a friend or family member travels, I ask them them to bring me some.

    8. What is your "dream job" (besides being Miss Universe)?
    My dream job would be to establish a nursing home for the elderly, where they can receive proper care, attention and love all day long.

    9. Are you currently a student?

    I have two-year degree in educational psychology, in my hometown, Salta, but this year I'm taking some time off to represent my country in the Miss Universe pageant. My studies are very important to me and whatever happens in Miss Universe my goal is to finish my studies and practice Educational Psychology.

    10. Have you held any interesting jobs in the past? Have you done any volunteerism?
    Yes! My grandmother Teresa has a factory of cereals and I had the opportunity to collaborate and work in the administrative area. And yes, I have done plenty of volunteer work as well. I volunteered with an organization that fights child malnutrition and I was in charge of collecting and all kinds of food, clothing and toys in my area El Carril and Chicoama Lane. I volunteered with a Down Syndrome association where I organized a fashion show to benefit Fundación Alfarcito, the work of Father Chifri. I did a charity dinner with fashion show to raise funds for the construction of a sports area and a multipurpose room to benefit underprivileged children. 

    11. Where is your favorite place in the world and why is it important to you?

    My favorite place is my city Salta because here I can find everyone that I love, my family, my friends, most of my life experiences. Salta is not only a beautiful city that brings together the benefits and services of big cities, but it also has the idiosyncrasies of a small town with very friendly people, with warm people and very helpful people. Besides Salta my other favorite place in the world is Costa Rica because of the opportunity of working there as a model and the country makes me feel as if I am Costa Rican.

    12. What is something unique you have done? Something that distinguishes you from all other competitors?
    When I was 15, I rented a car to travel to another town 800 kilometers from my city to visit a very special friend. For this adventure, I had spent all my savings and I begged my brother Carlos to take me to my friend. I always laugh everything I think about this crazy adventure! Another unusual activity I did was to jump off the bridge of the Cabral Corral Reservoir which is approximately 50 meters high. My ankles were fastened with an elastic rope.

    13. Do you have any hidden talents?

    It's more than a hidden talent! Many people do not know that I do and I enjoy painting with acrylics.

    14. Any beauty or fitness advice you'd like to share?
    Before going out to walk on the runway, I put hair spray all over my body so that my skin looks firmer. To take care of my hair, I first put conditioner on the ends and then wash them with shampoo. I repeat this process twice a week with the same mechanism and the third time I apply full conditioner.

    15. What do you think is the biggest problem facing the world right now, and what to do to solve it?
    The world is afflicted with so many problems like hunger, pollution, and climate change accelerated by global warming. But there is also one big problem that poses a threat to our society - being disconnected from our family and loved ones through the improper and unregulated use of social media. Regarding the problem of global warming, we need to resolve it as quickly as possible because it causes major disasters to occur worldwide like floods, earthquakes, droughts, resulting in large number of fatalities, damaged food and goods.

    16. If you won the lottery, what would you buy?
    If I won the lottery, I would spent part of the money to buy properties to ensure a future income for my old age, to make sure that my surviving descendants and relatives would inherit my estate. I would also like to invest in some business that seems profitable, to continue generating revenue for my estate, while remaining as an active worker myself. And I would spend the rest of the money to build a beautiful nursing home with nice environment for the elderly, and begin a foundation that would be responsible for protecting the interests of the elderly, with free legal advice, free social services, etc.

    17. What it is something you would like the judges to know about you?
    I would like the judges to know that I am a very committed person in everything that I do, with very strong values and an ability to learn from all the experiences that touch my life. I would also like them to know that I'm totally ready to do the job of Miss Universe, which is something that I have always aspired for and dreamed of becoming some day.


    Critical Beauty wishes the best of luck to Claudia in Miss Universe 2015!

    And thank you to CB's Héctor Joaquín Colón-González, Claudia's coach 
    (with her in photo) for facilitating the interview! 

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    DAHAM DIAS, Mister Global Teen 2015, in a scandalous selfie with a Thai transgender and with Christian Daniel Ortiz, the current Mister Universal Ambassador 2015.

    Pradit Pradinunt, chairman of Mister Global Limited, issued an official statement yesterday announcing that the current Mister Global Teen 2015, Daham Dias from Sri Lanka, will not be dethroned following the release of a controversial topless selfie of him lying next to a Thai "lady boy" (pre-op transgendered woman) and Christian Daniel Ortiz, the current Mister Universal Ambassador 2015 from Puerto Rico. The selfie was taken during a swimwear photoshot, and according to Pradinunt's statement, Dias had accepted the modeling job without Pradinunt's authorization, which is a violation of his contract with Pradinunt's pageant company. You can read the entire official statement below.  

    Daham Dias was crowned Mister Global 2015 last October 10 in Bangkok. 

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    Switzerland's Pedro Mendes (center) won the 2015 Mister International title on November 30 at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World Manila, Philippines. His court includes (from left to right):  3rd runner-up Julian Torres of Panama, 1st runner-up Anderson Tomazini of Brazil, 2nd runner-up Sang-Jin Lee of Korea and 4th runner-up Jakub Kraus of Czech Republic.  

    Completing the top 10 were Reniel Villareal  of the Philippines, Rafael Angelucci of Venezuela, Chris Nayna of Australia, Kenny Austin of Indonesia and Fernando Alvares of Puerto Rico. 

    Rounding up the Top 15 were Ivan Virrait of Sweden, Farid Matar of Lebanon, Nan Li of China, Alejandro Ruiz of Mexico and Daniel Barreres of Spain. The show was live streamed by Rappler.

    The pageant did not quite sail smoothly, especially towards the end. During the top 5 final question and answer segment, Panama's response in Spanish was translated to English by one of the judges, José Anmer Paredes, who was Mister International 2013 from Venezuela. Switzerland could not make up his mind whether to answer in English or French, and the buzzer went off 30 seconds later even before he could finish his choppy response in French who was translated by a woman interpreter on stage. His question was: "If you were a world leader, what would you do to make a difference in the world?" He replied, "[If] You cannot be the means you have to try to be the best. [I would like] to show you what I can do." His answer was actually the worst, but it did not deter the judges from crowning him.

    Korea's question came from an Asian female judge whose English was unintelligible that it had to be paraphrased by the host; the delegate's answer in Korean was then translated by his own national director. 

    Before the official results were announced, the hosts spent at least ten minutes thanking all the sponsors (every individual and group), which spoiled the suspense and diminished the viewers' excitement.

    And a most curious situation occurred when Australia's representative Chris Nayna fainted during the lengthy announcement of the sponsors. Click the graphic below which will take you to the link of the video.

    Over 50 countries were expected to participate in the pageant's tenth anniversary, but only 36 made it. (Note: the pageant actually debuted in 2006, which should make 2015 its 9th anniversary.) Visibly absent were delegates from Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Peru - whose national directors decided to boycott this year's pageant after the scandal earlier this year (read all about it here).

    By Rafa Delfin, 12/1/2015

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    THE FIRST COLOMBIAN to be crowned Miss Universe, a title she earned in 1958, died on Wednesday in the central city of Manizales, local media reported. She was 77.

    LUZ MARINA ZULUAGA passed away at the apartment where she lived in the city's Palermo neighborhood, according to Caracol Radio, which cited family members as its source.
    Blu Radio said Zuluaga apparently fainted while in the company of friends at her apartment and that paramedics were unable to revive her.
    "It's very bad news ... that truly saddens us as well. She was not only an extraordinary (beauty) queen but also a great lady," the director of the Colombian National Beauty Pageant, Raimundo Angulo, told Blu Radio.
    A native of the city of Pereira, she finished first runner-up in the 1957 national contest.
    But after the winner was forced to resign her title because she had gotten married, Zuluaga went on to represent the Andean nation the next year at the 7th Miss Universe pageant in Long Beach, California, where she was awarded the crown.
    A photograph of Zuluaga with the Miss Universe crown and scepter and the trophy she was awarded there are kept at the Colombian National Museum in Bogota.
    A postage stamp also was issued in her honor in 1959.
    After Zuluaga's triumph, no Colombian was crowned Miss Universe until Paulina Vega – the reigning queen – ended the 57-year drought.
    In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Vega posted an image of Zuluaga.
    Source: Latino Fox News, 12/2/2015
    Luz Marina is crowned Miss Universe 1958 by her predecessor, Gladys Zender from Peru.
    The pageant was held in Long Beach, California on July 25, 1958.

    An ecstatic Luz Marina during her victory walk. When she returned home, the Colombian government declared her tax-exempt for life.

    Luz Marina playfully crowns Paulina Vega as the second Miss Universe from Colombia - 
    56 years later after Luz was crowned in 1958.

    Beautiful Luz Marina. You were the epitome of class, elegance and social graces.
    May you rest in peace. Que en paz descanse. 

    Born: October 31, 1938
    Died: December 2, 2015

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    The 2007 Miss Teen USA hopeful who became an Internet sensation following her rambling response to a pageant question was so depressed that she considered suicide.
    Caitlin Upton, the contestant from South Carolina, told New York Magazine she struggled to move on for years after the memorable blunder — a now-infamous fumbling of words during the pageant's interview portion.
    "I definitely went through a period where I was very, very depressed," Upton, now 26, told the magazine. "I had some very dark moments where I thought about committing suicide."
    Upton was asked at the pageant why she believed a fifth of Americans couldn't point out the United States on a map.
    "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some, uh, people out there in our nation don't have maps," she began.
    "And, uh, I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future," she said.
    The original video of Upton's answer has amassed more than 63 million views in the 8 years since it was posted to YouTube, and it was the most viewed video on the site in September 2007, a month after the pageant.
    The 18-year-old stunner went on to finish fourth in the show, but remained the most talked about contestant — perhaps most notably at a University of South Carolina party.
    "I walk in, and the entire USC baseball team surrounded me and bashed me with the harshest, meanest comments I had ever heard," she told the magazine.
    The bullying didn't stop there, however. Upton also remembered a horrific letter she received saying she was going to be eaten by fire ants and burned in a fire.
    "Then it said, in all caps, 'GO DIE CAITE UPTON, GO DIE FOR YOUR STUPIDITY,'" she said. "That's the kind of stuff people would say to me for two years.
    Upton, who later explained on the "Today" show that she was overwhelmed and didn't correctly comprehend the question, is brunette now and says she's no longer recognized from the notorious pageant.
    In fact, she says she's recognized much more now for having a name resembling that of supermodel Kate Upton.
    "I'll go into my auditions and be like, "'Yes, yes, I know — I'm the other one.'"

    Source: New York Daily News, 12/2/2015


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    Hello everyone! Sending you my best regards from Las Vegas! Thank God I have the opportunity to be here since the first day since I have been in charge of the preparation and training of Miss Universe Argentina. And I also want to share with you firsthand updates.

         So far I have seen this: a lot of organization, unlike in previous years, everything seems to run as it should. There is no improvisation, they are using the time to the maximum, It is evident that the production team is doubling its efforts to make sure that the girls are comfortable with everything, and that makes me happy because after all, it's Miss Universe!

         In fact, the first official pictures taken backstage were already uploaded to the official website; this shows that the team is on top of things.

         I had the chance to see most of the candidates and here's my first impression of each of them:

    ALBANIA: Megi Luka is a very quiet girl, very much into her own world. I had the opportunity to say hello at breakfast and she was very friendly to me. Her styling needs improvement, but she has a very pretty face.

    ANGOLA: Whitney Shikongo is a very nice girl with a million-dollar smile! She has a nice figure and great fashion sense.

    ARGENTINA: It's not because I trained her, but Claudia Barrionuevo (above) has left a good impression since her arrival. Her sweetness, simplicity and naturalness has captivated many. One of the things that attracted people's attention is her Mac Duggal gown for her official photoshoot. It made everyone's jaw drop! And when they saw her amazing national costume, they were astonished by its majestic size!  Her roommate is Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutiérrez, and the two girls immediately struck a friendship. Claudia describes Ariadna as a real goddess, a beautiful girl, well-educated and very easy-going.

    ARUBA: From what I've seen,  Alysha Boekhoudt is a very quiet girl, rather short and has not shown any spark as of yet. I've seen more dynamic Aruban girls in the past. But it's just the second day, so who knows? She might pull a big surprise during the prelims!  

    AUSTRALIA: I had really wanted to see Monika Radulovic because she seems like a very pretty girl but when I saw her upfront at breakfast, she did not leave a strong impression on me at all. She has a good figure but she is not very tall and looks rather older for her age.

    BAHAMAS - Toria Nichole Fanakos is definitely very unique compared to past Bahamian delegates. I love her hairstyle and her personality. When she greeted me, she was well-dressed. Though I am not yet convinced if she has a good figure, which we'll find out during the prelims.

    BRAZIL: I greeted Marthina Brandt (above) in Portuguese which surprised her. And while she was eating her breakfast, I commented that I had watched her win during the live stream of Miss Brazil pageant. Let's be honest: this girl is gorgeous! And a body to die for! You can never get tired of looking at her!

    CANADA: I told my friend Denis Davila, Canada's national director, that I had doubts about his girl Paola Nunez but when I saw her at breakfast, she greeted me without knowing who I was and she was very friendly. There's something special about her that makes you observe her more. She has a good height, a beautiful skin, and good hair. She is also polished, well-mannered and elegant. She is of Dominican descent.

    CHINA: Yun Fang Xue is a pretty girl, friendly and with a good sense of humor.

    COLOMBIA:  Since she competed in Miss Colombia, Ariadna Guiterrez had always been my favorite for the crown. Ariadna is a stunning woman, has a great body, beautiful hair, and expresses herself very well. She knows how to pose like a goddess and has good manners. She will be hard to beat!

    COSTA RICA: My other protégée (besides Argentina), Brenda Castro is pure spark and joy. She has the Caribbean X-Factor that makes her special. She may not be the tallest girl in the pageant, but when you are mesmerized by her beautiful face, her eloquence and her engaging personality, you forget about everything else. 

    CROATIA: Mirta Kuštan is a simple and quiet girl that looks more like a model than a beauty queen.

    CZECH REPUBLIC: Nikol Švantnerová is very beautiful, smart and very sociable. She has a unique face.

    DENMARK: You really have to look closely at Cecilie Wellemberg (above); she has the face of an angelic girl but with the body of a Hollywood goddess. I love her smile and she seems very sweet. There's no doubt that Denmark came to make an impact, and so far she is succeeding! She's always well-dressed and sociable.

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: I saw Clarissa Molina today during breakfast and she made it clear that she did not come to play but to win. With knowing who I was, she greeted me with a big smile! She looked relaxed yet impeccable. Even though she was wearing a long dress, I could tell that she has an amazing figure. She is gorgeous, and tall. She has a commercial look, having worked in front of the cameras, and knows how to relate well with the media. I'm sure we'll see and hear more of her!

    ECUADOR:  Such a sweet beauty with a face of a little girl, with nice figure and is very photogenic. Francesca Keyko Cipriani reminds me of Mayra Matos, Miss Puerto Rico 2009. She came in well-dressed and nicely accessorized. A very polished and classy girl.

    GEORGIA:  Janet Kerdikoshvili is simply striking, but she has a quirky face. Seemed quiet and serious.

    GERMANY: Sarah- Lorraine Riek is friendly, confident and unpretentious. Sometimes she looks more Latina than European.

    GREAT BRITAIN: Narissara Nena France is a very stylish girl, I love her hair and her smile. Very chic!

    HAITI: Lisa Elizabeth Drouillard is a very elegant brunette with experience in beauty pageants. She was Miss New York Teen USA and competed in Miss Teen USA 2011 and made the top 10 in Miss Grand International 2014.  

    INDIA: What can I say about this Indian goddess? Urvashi Rautela (above) knows what she's doing, when and how she does it. Urvashi did not come to play, but to win! She's a star and a beauty queen from head to toe! Her personality is engaging and she always looks impeccable, but there's something missing in her that I can't figure out. Maybe she's a little exaggerated in her mannerisms, I'm not sure. But she will definitely rock in the prelims and will go far! 

    ISRAEL: Avigail Alfatov is rather plain, quiet and very introverted.

    ITALY: Giada Pezzaioli has something that captivates you and makes you look at her. Let's not forget that she was Miss World Italy 2010 and placed seventh in Miss World that year. She is certainly applying her Miss World experience to make waves in Miss Universe, and so far she is succeeding!

    JAMAICA: Sharlene Dayowi Radlein is elegant but lacks impact. Friendy but not engaging. Nice figure.

    JAPAN: One of the most intelligent candidates this year. Ariana Miyamoto made history by being crowned as first biracial Miss Japan, but she looks rather plain and forgettable. A bit overrated in my opinion.

    KOSOVO: Mirjeta Shala (above) is definitely the top model of the group. Chic, elegant, and fabulous. I love her look and her fashion sense when I saw her at breakfast, I couldn't help but stare at her. She knows how to project herself.

    LEBANON: Cynthia Roger Samuel is very sophisticated and elegant girl, but that's it.

    MEXICO: If there's one delegate whom you really want to see upfront, it's Mexico's Wendy Esparza. Why? Because her photos in social media do not do her justice at all. In person, she is so much prettier, more elegant, and eloquent. However, there's something about her that is not connecting with me. But it's just the first day so I wouldn't be too hard on her. 

    MONTENEGRO: When I met Maja Čukić today for breakfast, she had a sore throat and I asked if she was well, and she said yes, but felt bad about her condition. Very friendly, has a nice figure and beautiful eyes, but that's it.

    NETHERLANDS: Jessie Jazz Vuijk is definitely a surprise for many fans. She is fresh and she is the It Girl - someone who has an undefinable quality, but for a good reason. She reminds me of Jennifer Hawkins, Miss Universe 2004.

    NICARAGUA: Daniela Torres is an elegant girl, but I need to see more of her. Today at breakfast, she introduced herself to Miss Venezuela. Very sweet.

    PANAMA: If you want to talk about spark, then let's talk about Gladys Brandao Amaya (above)! Such a divine young woman with great personality. What she lacks in stature, she gains in the fire that she ignites! When I introduced myself to her, she said, "I know who you are, my dear. And she shook my hand very firmly. And according to my makeup artist and stylist friends, the girl is the bomb! She is always in a good mood and she feels very confident in her skin. Watch out for her!

    PARAGUAY: Myriam Arevalos is very pretty, with a great figure, but I need to see more of her.

    PERU: Laura Vivian Spoya is beautiful but comes across as older than her age. She's short but she knows how to play the camera, having worked in television, and knows how to pose. Nice figure and elegant.

    PHILIPPINES: Today for the first time I had the chance to say hello to Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach. The girl is pure elegance and charisma! She knows how to work it, and the nicest thing about her is that she takes the time to greet her fans, and that illustrates good manners. There's no doubt that Pia came to win the crown. Perhaps her body is not well-toned but she has a killer catwalk and is very elegant, as if she was born to be queen.

    POLAND: I met Weronika Szmajdzińska in Argentina when she won Miss Global Teen 2012 and also competed in Miss World 2012 at 17 years of age. She's built like a model and looks like one. She's obviously pretty, but sometimes keeps to herself. 

    PUERTO RICO: I still haven't had the chance to meet my compatriot, Catalina Moralesbut from what I have seen so far and from what I've been told, Catalina - along with Argentina and Colombia - is one of the best-dressed in the pageant. The girl brought more than 100 pairs of shoes and tons of accessories. She came very well-prepared.

    RUSSIA: Vladislava Evtushenko looks like a teen who is competing in a teen pageant (she's 19). Very pretty, but doesn't possess enough qualities to be a beauty queen.

    SERBIA: Daša Radosavljević is pretty, but that's it. She's also short.

    SINGAPORE: Lisa Marie White is elegant and sophisticated.

    SPAIN: Another one who has pageant experience and knows how to play the game. Carla Barber Garcia is not your typical Spanish beauty, but she carries herself with class.

    THAILAND: Aniporn Chalermburanawong (above) is an Asian goddess! So stunning and friendly.

    TURKEY: Asli Melisa Uzun is plain, quiet and doesn't do anything for me.

    USA: She has been criticized for looking old, and that she is too plain without makeup, but Olivia Jordan is more than a beauty queen. She is an actress, a model, and she could be the ideal queen that WMA/IMG is looking for. I like her a lot. I had the chance to meet her in Doral and she was always very friendly and nice with me. She has a strong commercial look and I wouldn't be surprised if she won!

    VENEZUELA: Just as she was arriving for breakfast, everyone remained speechless and awed by her glamorous and elegant look! Mariana Coromoto Jimenez looks like a movie star! 

    VIETNAM: Just be looking at her, you can't help but fall in love with Huong Pham. She radiates a lot of peace. She's not talkative, but she's very sweet, friendly and has one of the most beautiful faces in the pageant.

         If we were to mention the standouts for now, and having seen their photos and their social media, I have to say that we have to watch out for the following contestants:

    Costa Rica
    Dominican Republic
    Puerto Rico

    Until my next report! 

    Héctor Joaquín Colón-González for #CriticalBeauty

    PHOTO CREDITS: Miss Universe Organization

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    Stephania Vásquez Stegman, 23, of Paraguay was crowned Miss Supranational 2015 during the pageant's seventh edition that was held in Krynica-Zdroj, Poland, Friday, December 4. She is the first woman from her country to win a major international beauty title. Her court includes 1st runner-up Siera Bearchell of Canada, 2nd runner-up Mónica Castaño Agudelo of Colombia,  3rd runner-up Tanja Ýr Ástþórsdóttir of Iceland and 4th runner-up Karina Stephania Martín Jiménez of Mexico.

    Rounding up the Top 10 were the delegates from Australia, India, Malaysia, Panama and the Slovak Republic. And completing the Top 20 were the delegates from Belgium, Czech Republic, Philippines, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Myanmar, Poland, Rwanda and the United States.


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    Philippines'Angelia Ong was crowned Miss Earth 2015 during the gala event held at the Marx Halle in Vienna, Austria on Saturday, December 5.
    25-year-old Ong succeeds fellow Filipina Jamie Herrell to be crowned the new Miss Earth.
     The elemental queens include Dayanna Grageda of Australia, Miss Earth Air (second place), Brittany Payne of the United States, Miss Earth Water (third place) and Thiessa Sickert of Brazil, Miss Earth Fire (fourth place). Ong's victory marks the Philippines' third win in less than 10 years:  Karla Henry won the title in 2008 and Jamie Herrell in 2014.

    During the question and answer portion of the pageant, Angelia was asked to come up with slogan for the next 15 years of Miss Earth. Angelia answered, "We will, because we can."
    "I want to let everybody know that all things are possible and all things are feasible if we work together. We will, because we can," she explained. 
    Ong's win is also the first back-to-back win in the history of Miss Earth since it started in 2001. 

    Completing the top 8 were Sophie Totzauer of Austria, Natividad Leiva of Chile, Estefania Muñoz of Colombia, and Andrea Rosales of Venezuela.

    Rounding up the top 16 were Dorina Lepp of Hungary, Viktoria Orel of the Ukraine, Karolína Mališová of Czech Republic, Bayartsetseg Altangerel of Mongolia, Katia Moochooram of Mauritius, Amy Meisak of Scotland, Alyssa Wurtz of France, and Skye Celine Baker of Guam.

    Dayanna Grageda (right) was crowned Miss Earth Air 2015 by her predecessor from 
    the United States, Andrea Neu (left)

    A beaming Brittany Payne of the United States was crowned Miss Earth Water 2015.

     Brazil's Thiessa Sickert received her Miss Earth Fire 2015 crown from her
    successor Anastasia Trusova of Russia (right).

    The winner and her elemental queens pose for the cameras.


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    Critical Beauty correspondent Héctor Joaquín Colón-González interviewed several contestants of the 2015 Miss Universe pageant at Planet Hollywood Casino & Resort in Las Vegas on December 9, 2015. Here are the audios of the interviews. Héctor Joaquín did the interview first in Spanish with six Spanish-speaking contestants, and then in English with six English-speaking contestants. 

    Part 1: ARGENTINA & VENEZUELA (Entrevista en español)

    Part 2: COLOMBIA, COSTA RICA, CURACAO, PERU (Entrevista en español)

    (Interview in English)

    Questions in Spanish:

    1. ¿Cuáles son tus primeras impresiones de Las Vegas and of Miss Universe?

    2. ¿Por qué crees tú que fuiste elegida para representar a tu país en Miss Universo?

    3. ¿Cuál es tu comida favorita? 

    4. ¿Cuáles son tus pasatiempos? 

    5. Cuéntanos sobre tu estilo a la hora de vestir y algunos tips de belleza. 

    6. ¿Qué consejo le das a aquellas chicas que sueñan con ser miss? 

    7. ¿Cuáles son tu debilidad y tu fortaleza?

    8. Si solo pudieras llevar tres cosas además del monedero y las llaves en la cartera ¿qué llevarías? 

    9. ¿Qué significa la belleza para ti?

    Questions in English:

    1. What are you first impressions of Las Vegas and of Miss Universe?

    (Specific to USA: What do you say to people who think that you are too old to be Miss USA?)

    2. Why do you think you were chosen to be your country's representative to Miss Universe?

    3. What is your favorite food?

    4. What are your hobbies?

    5. What advice would you give to girls who want to be a beauty queen?

    6. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

    7. What is beauty to you?

    8. Who is your favorite Miss Universe?

    9. Who is your favorite singer?

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    Critical Beauty correspondent Héctor Joaquín Colón-González interviewed several contestants of the 2015 Miss Universe pageant at Planet Hollywood Casino & Resort in Las Vegas on December 13, 2015. Here are the audios of the interviews. Héctor Joaquín did the interviews in two groups of Spanish-speaking contestants.

    GUATEMALA, BRAZIL (Entrevista en español)

    Part 5: HONDURAS, URUGUAY, PANAMA, EL SALVADOR, ECUADOR (Entrevista en español)

    Questions in Spanish - Part 4:

    ¿Por qué crees tú que fuiste elegida para representar a tu país en Miss Universo?
    ¿Cuáles son las dos cosas que más valoras en tu vida? 
    ¿Cuál es tu comida favorita?
    ¿Con qué personaje histórico te identificas?
    ¿Cuál es tu opinión del matrimonio homosexual?
    ¿Qué es lo que te hace feliz?

    Questions in Spanish - Part 5:

    ¿Quién es tu Miss Universo favorita?
    ¿Cuál es tu opinión del matrimonio homosexual? 
    ¿Qué es lo que más que valoras en tu vida en este momento, más allá del certamen del Miss Universo?
    ¿Cuál es tu comida favorita?
    ¿Cuál es tu opinión de aquellos lugares que no permiten conducir y viajar a las mujeres?
    ¿Con qué persona en tu país te identificas?
    ¿Qué te molesta más de lo que está sucediendo en el mundo hoy en día y por qué?
    ¿Qué le dice a la gente que dicen que los certámenes de belleza ya están pasados de moda?

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    Here are 69 of the 2015 Miss Universe candidates. Actually, there are 80 total countries being represented this year, but we purposely did not include 11 countries that have performed consistently well in the last 10 years: Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, France, India, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, USA and Venezuela.

    Whoever has the most number of likes will win the first ever "Miss Universe CB Facebook" title and will be Critical Beauty's "Face" for the entire year (until the next Miss Universe winner is crowned in 2016). Her face, as well as other images of her, will appear on the Critical Beauty Facebook page, Critical Beauty Fan page, Critical Beauty website, and Critical Beauty Twitter account. And she will also receive gifts worth US$300!

    Click on the collage which will take you to the CB Facebook page to start liking your favorite!

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    Valentina Rasulova of Russia was crowned Miss Intercontinental 2015 in Magdeburg, Germany on December 18. Her court includes (L-R): second runner-up Katherine Garcia of Venezuela, third runner-up Brianne Bailey of USA, Rasulova, first runner-up Christi McGarry of the Philippinesand fourth runner-up Tendai Bongani of South Africa. All five finalists also won their respective continental queen award.

    Completing the top 17 semifinalists were the delegates from Austria, Korea, Curacao, India, Mexico, Poland, Puerto Rico, San Marino, Thailand, Ukraine, Sao Tome e Principe, and Vietnam.

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  • 12/19/15--11:07: Spain wins Miss World 2015

  • Mireia Lalaguna, 22, from Barcelona, Spain was crowned Miss World 2015 at the Beauty of Crown Theatre in Sanya, China on December 18. Mireia is the first woman from Spain to win the prestigious title. She was crowned by her predecessor, Rolene Strauss, from South Africa. 

    Mireia's court includes 1st runner-up Sofia Nikitchuk of Russia and 2nd runner-up Maria Harfanti Teeth of Indonesia. Completing the top 5 were Valerie Abou Chacra of Lebanon and Sanneta Myrie of Jamaica. This year's edition attracted 114 young women from around the world.

    Joining the top 11 were Tess Alexander (Australia), Hinarere Taputu (France),  Lisa Punch (Guyana), Hillarie Parungao (Philippines), Liesl Laurie (South Africa) and Trần Ngọc Lan Khuê (Vietnam) who was chosen via Internet voting. 

    Completing the top 21 were the delegates from Brazil, China PR, Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Poland, Scotland and South Sudan.

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    Iraqi Beauties from the Gardens of Babylon. 

    By Sayed Kemal

         Amid the chaos of internal violence and recently ISIS, Iraq will hold its the first ever televised national pageant tomorrow at the Sheraton Grand Ishtar Hotel in the capital city of Baghdad. The Miss Iraq national pageant is a brand new initiative of Iraqi civil activists called Inanna Group and Al-Mada Foundation of Arts, Media & Culture. 

         The historic event, which will be a delayed broadcast on Al-Mada TV, is being directed by Henry Conway, an Iraqi Assyrian Christian, from the Cinema and Theatre department at the Ministry of Culture & Tourism of Iraq. The panel of judges will include personalities like Senan Kamel (director of Baghdad Fashion Show) and representatives from the Ministry of Culture & Tourism. 

         10 women were shortlisted to compete for the title after auditions were held in September in Baghdad and Erbil which saw women from cities of Mosul, Baghdad, Sulaymaniyah, Erbil, Basra and Kirkuk vying for the title. The finalists took part in activities involving a visit to a refugee camp in Baghdad and the ancient archaeological Babylonian site of the Ishtar Gate near Al-Hillah, Babylon province.

         Earlier, death threats from terrorists and conservatives in the religious lobby prompted many women to drop out of the contest after a major Shiite religious channel aired a programme denouncing the contest as "unIslamic". Regardless, the organization of the event has also received praise from many segments of the Iraqi society. The late Sir Naim Dangoor, head of Iraqi Jewish community and whose wife Renee Dangoor is Iraq's first known beauty queen, commented in a special message to Miss Iraq Organization shortly before his death that "it would be wonderful for Iraq if the images the world identifies with it are images of beauty instead of the images of mutual conflict."

         The history of beauty pageants in Iraq is long but scattered. They were traditionally held in social clubs as private affairs on a city or regional level beginning with Renee Dangoor who was crowned Baghdad's Queen of Beauty in 1947. Though "Miss Iraq" pageant as such has not taken place in the country before, there were a few instances of nationwide competitions being held but under different titles such as "Belle of Iraq" (Hasna'a Al-Iraq) whose winner Wijdan Burhan represented the country in Miss Universe 1972.

         The organizers hope to mark a return of Iraq to international pageants such as Miss World, Miss Universe and others next year.

    Video Promo of Miss Iraq by Al-Mada TV: 


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    Baghdad (AFP) - "Some people out there think we don't love life," said Humam al-Obeidi, one of the organisers, as the crowd spilled out of the Baghdad hotel ballroom where the pageant was held.

    The jury chose Shaymaa Abdelrahman, a tall, green-eyed 20-year-old from Iraq's multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk.
    The decision was popular with those in attendance, especially in the back rows, where young men with hipster beards and tight blazers had been standing on their chairs shouting her name.
    "I'm very happy to see Iraq going forward," the new beauty queen told AFP as she tried to fend off a scrum of admirers hoping to clinch a selfie. "This event was huge and put a smile on the faces of the Iraqis."
    Wearing her sash and holding her bouquet, Shaymaa Abdelrahman was fast learning her new trade, saying all the right things without ever breaking her smile.
    There was more talking than glamorous strutting during the pageant as the contestants, in high heels and evening dresses that were sleeveless but below the knee, pitched their charity projects to the jury.
    The pageant was designed to meet enough international criteria to propel its winner to the next Miss Universe contest, but some details, such as the Kalashnikov-toting guard at the door, set the event firmly in Iraq.
    The winner said she would use her fame to forward educational initiatives, especially among the massive population of people who have been displaced by conflict.
    One contestant said she would try to fix the Mosul dam, Iraq's largest and reportedly in need of urgent repair work, "because it threatened the entire country."
    - 'Still alive' -
    In the week running up to the event, the eight finalists embarked on a string of pre-pageant activities, including the visit of a camp for displaced people in Baghdad.
    Speaking to AFP during a tree-planting ceremony near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon on Thursday, Suzan Amer, a 22-year-old from the Kurdish town of Sulaimaniyah argued that a beauty pageant was more than a mere distraction in Iraq.
    "It's my first time doing anything like this but it's an experience I wanted to be part of. I think Iraq needs events like these," said the young woman with ash blonde hair, bright fuscia lipstick and a rosebud tucked above her ear.

    Iraq is wracked by an ongoing war against the Islamic State, the world's most brutal jihadist organisation, and plagued by deep sectarian tensions and corruption.
    But the pageant, which culminated with the jury announcing the winner as Beethoven's Ode to Joy filled the ballroom, left participants, organisers and guests feeling that beating the gloom was part of the war effort.
    "I think it is wonderful; it makes you feel things can come back to normal," said veteran human rights activist Hana Edwar.
    The last time the Miss Iraq competition was held was in 1972, when the oil-rich country was on an upward track.
    Old footage of the contest available on the Internet shows Wijdan Burhan al-Din Suleimank, at a venue in Puerto Rico, introducing herself at the microphone, between India and Ireland in the speaking order.
    "We look forward to having a good ambassador for Iraq," said Senan Kamel, the 2015 pageant's artistic director, who also organised Iraq's first fashion show in years last March.
    "What we're hoping to accomplish is to make Iraq's voice heard, show that it is still alive, that its heart is still beating," he said.
    The fashion designer was carried out to the car park after nearly fainting from exhaustion and stress before the show but he was back on his feet and all smiles in time to vote with the jury and present the winner with her crown.
    Source: AFP, 12/19/2015

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    Las Vegas, Nevada – December 20, 2015 – In front of a global audience, Miss Universe Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach was crowned Miss Universe 2015 at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The telecast aired live on FOX for the first time ever.
         Miss Universe Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach is a Filipino-German actress and model. Pia was born in Stuttgart, Germany and grew up in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. Pia finished her secondary education with the ABS-CBN Distance Learning Center and studied culinary arts at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies in Metro Manila, Philippines. Pia is currently a stylist and writer for the lifestyle section of a leading newspaper in her country.
         Emmy Award winner Steve Harvey hosted the three-hour event with live reporting from Roselyn Sanchez. Grammy Award-winning, multi-Platinum singer and songwriter SEAL, Grammy Award-winning sibling trio The Band Perry, and Golden Globe and Grammy Award-nominated Charlie Puth took the MISS UNIVERSE® stage as performances throughout the night.
         Emmy Award nominee Niecy Nash, Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo, football legend Emmitt Smith, and celebrity entertainment mogul Perez Hilton made up the judging panel. Additionally, for the first time ever, fans worldwide had a say in who was crowned MISS UNIVERSE®. With a virtual seat at the judging table, fans were able to vote on each category to help decide who walked away Miss Universe 2015.
         Throughout the MISS UNIVERSE® telecast, contestants representing 80 countries competed in three categories: swimsuit, evening gown and interview. The telecast concluded with Miss Universe 2014 Paulina Vega from Colombia crowning her successor.

    Final Results:
    First Runner-Up: Miss Universe Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez.
    Second Runner-Up: Miss USA, Olivia Jordan.
    Top Three: Miss USA, Olivia Jordan; Miss Universe Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez; Miss Universe Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach.
    Top Five: Miss Universe France, Flora Coquerel; Miss Universe Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez; Miss Universe Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach; Miss Universe Australia, Monika Radulovic; and Miss USA, Olivia Jordan.
    Top Ten: Miss USA, Olivia Jordan; Miss Universe Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez; Miss Universe Japan, Ariana Miyamoto; Miss Universe Thailand, Aniporn Chalermburanawong; Miss Universe Australia, Monika Radulovic; Miss Universe Dominican Republic, Clarissa Molina; Miss Universe France, Flora Coquerel; Miss Universe Curaçao, Kanisha Sluis; Miss Universe Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach; and Miss Universe Venezuela, Mariana Jimenez.
    Top Fifteen: Miss USA, Olivia Jordan; Miss Universe Brazil, Marthina Brandt; Miss Universe Australia, Monika Radulovic; Miss Universe Indonesia, Anindya Kusuma Putri; Miss Universe Dominican Republic, Clarissa Molina; Miss Universe Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach; Miss Universe France, Flora Coquerel; Miss Universe Curaçao, Kanisha Sluis; Miss Universe Belgium, Annelies Törös; Miss Universe Japan, Ariana Miyamoto; Miss Universe Venezuela, Mariana Jimenez; Miss Universe Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez; Miss Universe Mexico, Wendy Esparza; Miss Universe South Africa, Refilwe Mthimunye; and Miss Universe Thailand, Aniporn Chalermburanawong.

         As previously announced, WME | IMG wholly acquired The Miss Universe Organization in September 2015. Prior to the acquisition, IMG had produced a number of shows for The Miss Universe Organization and did so with this year’s MISS UNIVERSE® telecast.

    SOURCE: Miss Universe Organization

    Okay... that was nice. But the press release totally ignored the unexpected ending witnessed by billions of viewers around the world... 

     Miss France and Miss Australia were eliminated after the Top 5 question round, USA, Colombia, and Philippines celebrate their Top 3 placements:

    Immediately after the Top 3 Final Question round, the official results were announced: Miss USA was declared 2nd runner-up, which left Miss Colombia and Miss Philippines as the last two women standing:

    Finally, host Steve Harvey declares Miss Colombia as Miss Universe 2015 and Miss Philippines as 1st runner-up. Miss Philippines joins Miss USA to the rear of the stage:

    Picture: APSource:AP

    Miss Colombia doing her victory wave, unknown of the controversy that was about to happen:

    Picture: Getty

    Miss Colombia was already blowing kisses when host Steve Harvey awkwardly interrupted to say, "I have to apologize. The first runner-up is Colombia. Miss Universe 2015 is Philippines."

    A shocked Miss Philippines (with Miss USA behind) could not believe 
    what she just heard:

     Host Steve Harvey shows the card revealing the official results, putting USA as 2nd runner-up, Colombia as 1st runner-up, and Philippines as Miss Universe:

    Picture: APSource:AP

    A close-up of the card :

    Picture: SuppliedSource:Twitter

    “It was my fault,” Harvey stammered as a confused audience held its breath.
    “Please don’t hold it against the ladies,”  he added.

    Outgoing queen Paulina Vega was instructed to take away the crown 
    from her compatriot (who looks bewildered)... 
    Picture: APSource:AP
    ... and places it on Miss Philippines' head. A distressed Miss Colombia on the verge of tears:

    (Picture: GettySource: AFP)


    Several contestants rushed to congratulate Miss Philippines, while most rushed to console Miss Colombia:

    Picture: GettySource:AFP

    Miss Colombia was visibly upset while being consoled by some of the contestants :

    Picture: APSource:AP

    Less than hour after the telecast ended, the Miss Universe Organization posted the following apology on its website:

    So here's what I really think of the telecast...

         First off, I was pissed that FOX did not start the live telecast at 7 PM (EST) as it was supposed to be. There was a football game still going on, and the football ignoramus that I am, I wasn't sure when it would end. Meanwhile, the live streaming started on time and I was viewing it on my laptop in my living room, but the reception was grainy and it kept freezing! Members of the Critical Beauty Facebook Fan Page were already posting real time updates, while here I was pulling my hair and gnashing my teeth because of the interrupted telecast due to some stupid football game and the inferior quality of the live stream which eventually froze permanently on me! Ha! What have I done to deserve this fiasco?

         Anyway, I had missed the opening where all 80 candidates introduced themselves in their national costumes. No big deal, as I can watch it later once the show becomes available on YouTube. I caught the part just when host Steve Harvey was getting ready to announce the top 15 semifinalists. 

         A few days earlier, I had posted my top 15 on my Facebook page which included (in random order) USA, Colombia, Australia, Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil, Philippines, Dominican Republic, Thailand, Italy, Peru, Russia, Myanmar, Venezuela, Paraguay. I got 8 out of 15 correctly (my worst prediction so far since 2002! lol).  

    Bad stuff: 

    - The ungodly pace of the Spanish-speaking interpreter for Miss Colombia who seemed irritated every time the interpreter cut her off.

    - The Band Perry and Charlie Puth: nondescript entertainers. 

    - The elimination of the Miss Congeniality and Miss Photogenic awards. Why? Could it be that none of the girls was worthy of either title?  And since an optional talent segment had been added, it would have been nice to present a Miss Talent award to the best performer. Otherwise, the talent segment was nothing more than a filler.

    - Steve Harvey's major, major gaffe of announcing the wrong winner, which robbed Miss Philippines of a real crowning moment. I read later that he missed the end of the rehearsals and "did not practice announcing the winner." 

    - The Global Fan Vote because it prevented many fans watching a delayed telecast from voting on real time, not to mention that the voting site crashed once or twice.

    - The 3-hour format was just tedious and sometimes dragging. If Miss Universe wants to change for the better, it needs to stop imitating Miss World's über-long telecasts. 

    - A shortage of judges. Why only four celebrity judges? And they were all Americans. It's supposed to be an international competition. Budget issues? I don't even what to know. Ugh!

    - The inclusion of Miss Mexico Wendy Esparza in the top 15. What was she doing there? The girl gave an average performance during the prelims and she had gained weight. I would have chosen another favorite of mine, Miss Paraguay Myriam Arevalos who blew me away!

    Good stuff: 

    - The introduction of a second question which gave the finalists another opportunity to be heard. The question was "Why do you want to be Miss Universe?"

    - The variety of swimsuits: I usually prefer to see the girls wearing identical swimsuits, but since the new owners (IMG) took over, they wanted to promote the idea that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Good enough!

    - The four celebrity judges: Look how cool they all are!

    From Olivia Culpo's Twitter
    From Niecy Nash's Twitter

    - Judge Perez Hilton for his bluntness. Okay, I have to be honest. I never did like Perez Hilton since he judged Miss USA 2009 which sparked the same-sex marriage controversy, which led to Perez's incessant bashing of Miss California USA Carrie Prejean which eventually led to her downfall. If you don't know what I am talking about, you can read all about it here.  When backstage commentator Roselyn Sanchez asked Perez the difference between Miss USA and Miss Universe, the eccentric blogger celebrity responded, "First, a lot more people are watching Miss Universe, and second, Donald Trump no longer owns the pageant." Applause from the audience! Perez had to say something to gain attention, and he succeeded, though I am sure he had done Trump a huge favor by giving the businessman millionaire more free publicity which helps him maintain his lead in the polls! Bite that, Perez! lol 

    - Steve Harvey, despite his blunder, proved to be a very entertaining, dynamic and charismatic host. There was not a moment when he did not engage the audience. And did I say that he is also a sharp dresser?

    - The inclusion of Miss Curaçao Kanisha Sluis in the top 15! Even though I did not have Kanisha in my personal top 15 list, I am delighted that she won the first Miss Universe CB Facebook contest based on the most number of likes! 

    - British entertainer Seal serenading the top 3 finalists during the last look segment. If I am not mistaken, Seal is the biggest entertainer ever invited to perform in the history of the pageant. Lady Gaga performed during the swimsuit competition in 2008, but she was not yet a "megastar" back then. Let's hope that IMG will invite more A-list musical celebrities in the future. Meanwhile, I love, love, LOVE the giant screen in the background projecting the glam head shot of each finalist: the pics could have come out from Vogue or Vanity Fair magazine. Watch the video:

    - A new ownership also means bringing in new elements such as the top five questions which were relevant to the current situation or history of the finalist's country. Gone are questions picked out of a bowl, and questions asked directly by the judges. Even though the top three finalists were given the same question ("Why should you be Miss Universe?"), they were each given one minute to answer, which is a substantial amount of time to elaborate their response, and in the case of Miss Colombia - enough time for her answer to be translated to English. I also love the idea of Miss Universe pageant trivia being zipped through the bottom of the screen:

    - The fans! Without them, there wouldn't be a show and the auditorium would be quiet as a library:

    Great stuff:

    - A sweet tribute to Miss SloveniaAna Halozanwho appeared on stage following a seizure that left the right side of her face paralyzed. A week before the finals, fans were wondering why her profile was removed from the MUO website. Did she withdraw? Did she get involved in a fight with another girl? What? Then when news came out that she had a seizure,  the doctor recommended that she quit the competition to get a much needed rest. But instead of returning home, she decided to stay to support the other girls.

    - Versatile camera angles that captured many interesting scenarios, be it an aerial shot that made the venue look three times bigger, or an arc shot where the camera rotated around the stage in circular motion, thus giving the impression that it was a fashion/awards show instead of a traditional beauty pageant.

    - For me, the best gowns of the evening belonged to Miss USA Olivia Jordanand Miss Thailand Aniporn Chalermburanawong.  Both women wore dresses that could pass up as bridal gowns accentuated with a cape. Olivia looked radiantly serene when she sashayed on the stage, and Aniporn had fierce written all over her in a striking low-cut silvery white gown enhanced with fabulous hand jewelry. 

    - The crowning fiasco generated perhaps the most publicity for the Miss Universe pageant, as evidenced by the explosion of comments on social media and on television. It also made Steve Harvey, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach and Ariadna Gutiérrez-Arévalo instant household names. People who have never heard of Miss Universe are now following its various official social media accounts. Just a day after the fiasco, its Facebook page received over 400,000 likes! As I write this review four days after Pia's coronation, social media is still buzzing with stuff related to the crowning fiasco. The popular quote, "There is no such thing as bad publicity", seems to hold true for Miss Universe! 

    By Rafa Delfin, 12/24/2015

    (***As I mentioned above, I still have to see the complete show as soon as it is available on YouTube or Google Plus. So as soon as I have finished watching the full show, I will post additional comments, so come back soon!

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