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Beauty With Attitude

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    The 6th edition of Miss Diva 2018 took place on August 31 at NSCI Club, Mumbai. The beauty pageant witnessed 19 contestants competing for the competition. And Nehal Chudasama from Mumbai was crowned Miss Diva 2018. The 21-year-old will now represent India at the 67th Miss Universe pageant to be held in Bangkok, Thailand on December 16, 2018. Shraddha Shashidhar, Miss Universe India 2017 crowned Nehal as her successor. Aditi Hundia is declared first runner-up and will represent India at Miss Supranational 2018 and Roshni Sheoran was the second runner-up. They beat Hannah Reji Koshy and Lavina Israni in the top-five finalists. 

    Nehal is 21 years old from Mumbai. She is a freelance fitness consultant, anchor and a model. She is currently studying to become IPS officer. Her life goal is to become Miss Universe. Her favourite food is Biryani. Her favourite feature is her body. Miss Universe India 2017, Shraddha Shashidhar crowned Nehal as her successor.


    Source: Latestly.com, 8/31/2018


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         THE PAGEANT WORLD is mourning the loss of one of the most beloved beauty queens of all time, CHELSI SMITH, Miss Universe 1995. According to information posted on Facebook on September 8, 2018 by her mother, Mary D. Trimble, Chelsi had been suffering from a long illness (reportedly liver cancer).



        Shanna Moakler, who became Miss USA 1995 after Chelsi was crowned Miss Universe 1995, posted a touching tribute to the beloved beauty queen:




         I was totally shocked upon hearing her untimely passing. Her positive, witty, and humorous postings on her Facebook page hardly reflected the condition of a woman - who was still in her prime at 45 - suffering from a fatal disease. Like many of her fans who anxiously waited for her next Facebook post, I started wondering why she had stopped posting since mid-July. It was so uncharacteristic of her. 

         Chelsi friended me on Facebook on February 10, 2014. At first, I hesitated accepting her friend request because I was not sure whether I was dealing with an impostor or the real deal. I sent her a private message asking if she was the real Chelsi Smith and she quickly shot with "Haha! It's me sweets 🙂"I knew there and then that it was the real thing! I had always wanted to be friends with Chelsi - if not in real life, at least online. Chelsi was actually the first Miss Universe to have befriended me - and I was so thrilled that I would finally get to know her. She even started following Critical Beauty on Twitter. And I added her as a member to the Critical Beauty group on Facebook where she posted regularly. 

         There is a reason Chelsi had won Miss Congeniality twice - at Miss USA and at Miss Universe: she was the epitome of warmth, ebullience, and pure unconditional love. She loved everyone - even some of her harshest critics like myself. I remember "fighting" with her over the issue of ideal weight for winning Miss Universe. We also debated gun control. In her rebuttals, she was neither confrontational nor egotistical. On the contrary, she always remained calm and gracious. And she would always end with a "love you!" or "hugs." 

         Then one day, she posted a YouTube link to a sizzle reel for a reality show which never materialized. The title of the reel is "The Reconstruction of former Miss Universe Chelsi Smith (Years 2009-2010)." The title swiftly piqued my interest: what is there to reconstruct about Chelsi Smith? She was Miss Universe, for Pete's sake! She had everything - beauty, talent, fame, and adoring fans. But something was missing: post-pageant luck. At 28, a failed marriage led to an ugly divorce. She gained 70 pounds. Her singing career never really took off. Her acting career was limited to insignificant bit parts. The face that could launch a thousand ships was essentially ignored by beauty-oriented magazines, even by the Miss Universe Organization who never invited her to judge. She became depressed, as past childhood issues returned to haunt her: bigotry due to her biracial identity, her father's schizophrenia, and a mother who abandoned her. Watch:


         We all have issues. We all have stories to tell. Chelsi's story may not be unique to itself, but it is remarkably relevant, universally poignant. We cannot help except lend pity to a tortured soul who, heroically, has consoled other tortured souls - online or in person.  After a year of chatting online, I finally met Chelsi in person in Miami Beach during the 63rd edition of Miss Universe held on January 25, 2015. Another beautiful soul, world-renowned fashion designer and pageant coach, Joey Galon, actually introduced me to her. My friend Héctor Joaquín Colón-González - who had never met Chelsi before either - decided to join Joey and Chelsi at a restaurant where the pair had just finished dining. 

         As soon as Chelsi saw me, she rushed to give me the biggest and warmest hug, coupled with a nice peck on the cheek. She made me feel... well... like some sort of royalty. She gave the same treatment to Héctor who quickly fell for her infectious vivaciousness. Later that night, we found ourselves cracking jokes, imitating silly pageant walks and poses, mocking dumb pageant contestants, and having a blast at a gay bar. One pageant fan, who was totally oblivious of the queen's presence, shrieked with joy when I introduced him to her. "Oh, my God! You're Chelsi Smith! I love you!!!" Two other guys recognized her and greeted her. Chelsi couldn't help but be amused by the attention she was getting from her gays.

    JOEY GALON, CHELSI & ME  / PHOTO CREDIT: JOEY GALON FACEBOOK

         
         I recall Chelsi's proposal for a get-together in April 2015 to celebrate her 20th coronation anniversary as Miss USA 1995. Two months had elapsed but nothing occurred - at least not to my knowledge. On March 18, 2015, she sent me a private message on Facebook: 😉 Miss you, Rafa! Muah!On April 25, 2015, she messaged Héctor and me: Missin my boys 😘😘😘She sent me another note on July 20, 2015 asking me if I knew the date and venue of Miss Universe 2015 and I said no. She replied, Btw I MISS YOU!!!!! 

         Her last private message to me was on April 9, 2016: Sending LOVE!!!

         We lost touch with each other after this note.

         I wanted to think that she was doing okay, that she had gotten her groove back, that perhaps she had become too busy with new projects. I was missing her presence on social media. My news feed had been un-Chelsified. 

         Until yesterday afternoon.

         Chelsi has reappeared on my news feed. But it is no longer she. It is her beautiful, warm, congenial soul speaking through her infinite number of friends, fans, and loved ones.

         All of a sudden, the universe has gotten critically bigger, critically more beautiful, and critically much brighter. 

         Chelsi is here to stay. With us. In our minds, in our dreams, in our hearts. 

     By RAFA DELFIN, 9-9-2018


    PHOTO CREDIT: CHELSI SMITH FACEBOOK



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     And the crown goes to... Miss New York Nia Franklin. 
    She edged out her 50 fellow competitors Sunday night in Atlantic City. 
    After being crowned, Franklin expressed her gratitude.
    "I'm feeling really blessed right now," she said. "I want to thank God because without him I wouldn't be standing here. It took a lot of perseverance to get here, and I just want to thank my beautiful family for coming, my mom and my dad, who's a survivor of cancer, and I love him so much. I want to thank all of my sisters behind me. We've had a wonderful week together, and I love each and every one of you."
    During the competition, Franklin offered herself as an example when asked how she would promote a healthy body image.
    "I would start by sharing my story," she said. "I grew up at a predominately Caucasian school and there was only 5 percent minority, and I felt out of place so much because of the color of my skin.
    "But growing up, I found my love of arts, and through music that helped me to feel positive about myself and about who I was," she continued, "and that's what I would encourage women to do – young girls to do is find who they are."
    She also explained how being Miss New York prepared her for her next job as Miss America.
    "I have New York grit," said Franklin. "I have moved over five times because of subletting in New York. It can be a little difficult because of the pricey rent, but I've overcome that. And also, as a New Yorker, I understand what it takes to work hard. I came up on a Lincoln Center fellowship because I'm an artist, and I'm really excited to just share my platform my social impact advocating for the arts and make sure all students have access to a quality education." 
    For her talent, Franklin sang "Quando m'en vo'" from the opera "La Boheme," dazzling Twitter with her vocal talent and a gleaming, strapless dress. 
    "Miss New York nailed the talent competition!" one person on the social media site exclaimed.
    Miss Connecticut Bridget Oei was the evening's first runner-up, Miss Louisiana Holli' Conway the second runner-up. Miss Florida Taylor Tyson was awarded third runner-up, while Miss Massachusetts Gabriela Taveras was named the fourth runner-up. 
    The other contestants rounding out the Top 15 were: Miss Minnesota Michaelene Karlen, Miss District of Columbia Allison Farris, Miss Colorado Ellery Jones, Miss Idaho Nina Forest, Miss Wisconsin Tianna Vanderhei, Miss Indiana Lydia Tremaine, Miss Washington Danamarie McNichol, Miss Nebraska Jessica Shultis, Miss Oklahoma Ashley Thompson and Miss Alabama Callie Walker.
    Reigning Miss America Cara Mund was on-hand to crown Franklin. Mund has been at the center of a the organization's latest controversy. In August, she lashed out at the organization's CEO, Regina Hopper, and chair, Gretchen Carlson, in a five-page letter addressing her "Miss America Sisters." She claimed the leaders "silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis."
    Mund appeared on "Today" Friday, and though she did not address Carlson by name, said those in charge should be replaced.
    “I do think with the lack of confidence there does need to be a leadership change and I think it comes from more than one (individual)," she said. "I think it’s just the culture in general."
    Carlson denied Mund's claims in a statement shared to Twitter a few days after the letter's release, which conveyed she was "surprised and saddened beyond words." 
    "I also want to be clear that I have never bullied or silenced you," her statement read.
    Source: USA Today, 9/10/2018


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    Miss America 2019 Nia Imani Franklin is mobbed from after she was crowned at Boardwalk Hall.(Photo: THOMAS P. COSTELLO, Asbury Park Press via USA TODAY NETWORK)

    NEW YORK (AP) — The Miss America ceremony subtracted the swimsuit competition for the first time in its 98-year history, and subtracted one million television viewers, too.
    The Nielsen company said 4.34 million people watched the annual ceremony on ABC Sunday, down 19 percent from the 5.35 million viewers last year. Declining viewership has been a consistent trend for the pageant over the past few years.
    With Miss America now under the leadership of former Fox News personality Gretchen Carlson, the swimsuits were left behind. Instead, they were replaced by onstage interviews where contestants talked about President Trump, the NFL player protests and other topics.
    Yet the decision has been the subject of criticism. Minutes before the nationally televised broadcast began, a comedian warming up the crowd mentioned there would be no swimsuit competition, drawing loud boos from the audience.
    It was the pageant's lowest viewership since 2009, when it was shown on cable's TLC channel and reached only 3.54 million people. It returned to broadcast TV on ABC in 2011, and its audience has gotten as high as 8.6 million in 2013.
    New Yorker Nia Franklin was crowned Miss America on Sunday.
    Viewership has declined steadily in recent years, from 7.1 million in 2015, to 6.29 million in 2016 and last year's 5.35 million.
    Buoyed by two NFL games, NBC won the week in prime-time, averaging 9.3 million viewers. CBS had 3.8 million, Fox had 3.52 million, ABC had 3.45 million, Univision had 1.32 million, ION had 1.3 million, Telemundo had 1.25 million and the CW had 740,000.
    ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.57 million viewers. Fox News Channel had 2.26 million, MSNBC had 1.99 million, USA had 1.38 million and HGTV had 1.35 million.
    ABC's "World News Tonight" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.3 million viewers. NBC's "Nightly News" had 7.5 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.9 million.
    For the week of Sept. 3-9, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Chicago at Green Bay, NBC, 22.12 million; NFL Football: Atlanta at Philadelphia, NBC, 19.03 million; "NFL Pre-Kick Show" (Thursday), NBC, 15.61 million; "NFL Pre-Kick Show" (Sunday), NBC, 15.41 million; "NFL Weather Delay," NBC, 12.76 million; "The OT," Fox, 12.33 million; "America's Got Talent" (Tuesday), NBC, 10.7 million; "Football Night in America," NBC, 10.46 million; "America's Got Talent" (Wednesday), NBC, 9.89 million; "NFL Opening Kick-off Show, NBC, 8.73 million.
    Source: USA Today, 9/11/2018

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    Photo credit: El Nuevo Dia


    Kiara Liz Ortega, 24, representing the municipality of Rincón, was crowned Miss Universe Puerto Rico 2018 Saturday night at San Juan's Centro de Bellas Artes. She was crowned by her predecessor Miss Universe Puerto Rico 2017 Danna Hernández. Ortega will now represent Puerto Rico at the Miss Universe 2018 pageant to be held on December 16 in Bangkok, Thailand.

     The first runner-up is Alejandra Pagán of Vega Baja and the second runner-up is Alexandra Porrata of Ponce. This is the first edition of Miss Universe Puerto Rico under its new director, Denise Quiñones who herself was Miss Universe 2001.


    Photo credit: Miss Universe Puerto Rico Facebook

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    Veronika Didusenko, who was recently named Miss Ukraine at the country's national beauty pageant, was stripped of her title after pageant officials learned that she lied about being a divorced mother in her application.
    Didusenko was crowned the winner of the Miss Ukraine pageant in the country's capital of Kiev on September 20. But her reign as queen didn't last long after the pageant committee decided that she was to be disqualified on Monday.
    The Miss Ukraine organization released a statement regarding the 23-year-old's disqualification which said, "In accordance with the Rules for conducting the National Beauty Contest Miss Ukraine, a person who wishes to take part in the National Beauty Contest 'Miss Ukraine' must comply, among other things, with the following requirements (valid for the period of the Contest): – not / was not married; – has no children."
    The pageant statement continued,  “The same requirements are indicated in the official form, which is contained in the unified rules and conditions of participation in Miss World contest 2018.”
    Source: Fox News, 9/26/2018

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  • 10/02/18--19:36: Miss Colombia 2018


  • Valeria Morales, 20, representing the department of  Valle del Cauca, was crowned Miss Colombia 2018 on September 30th during a special "Rumbo a Miss Universo 2018" ("Road To Miss Universe 2018). She will represent Colombia at Miss Universe 2018 to be held in Bangkok, Thailand on December 16.  Her court includes Virreina (Vice-Queen) or 1st runner-up Isabella Atehortua Zapata (Antioquia) and 2nd runner-Alma Beatriz Díaz Bonilla (Chocó) .


    Photo credits: Facebook

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    Hometown girl Miss Philippines, Sharifa Areef Mohammed Omar Akeel, was crowned Miss Asia Pacific International 2018 during the pageant's 50th anniversary at the Newport Performing Arts Theater,  Resorts World Manila on Thursday, October 4. 

    Akeel's court includes 1st runner-up Gabriela Palma of  Brazil, 2nd runner-up Melania Gonzales of Costa Rica,  3rd runner-up  Misheelt Narmandakh of Mongolia, , and 4th runner-up Mariani Nataly Chacon Angarita of  Venezuela. 



    PHOTO CREDITS: Miss Asia Pacific International Facebook


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  • 10/07/18--12:47: Miss World Philippines 2018



  • Katarina Rodriguez, 26, was crowned Miss World Philippines 2018 at SM Mall Asia Arena in Manila on Saturday, October 6. She will now represent the Philippines at Miss World 2018 pageant to be held in Sanya, China on December 8. Rodriguez is a pageant veteran; she was 1st runner-up at Miss Intercontinental 2017 pageant.


    At the same pageant, three other winners were crowned. Maureen Montagne, 25, was crowned Miss Eco Philippines 2018 and will compete in Miss Eco International 2018 pageant in Cairo, Egypt. Alyssa Muhlach Alvarez was crowned Reina Hispanoamericana Filipinas 2018 and will compete in Reina Hispanoamericana 2018 in Bolivia. Kim-Lei Mugford is Miss Multinational Philippines 2018 and will compete in Miss Multinational 2018 pageant to be held in India. The First Princess is Chanel Morales and the Second Princess is Pearl Hung.

    Photo credit: GMA


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    ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The other heel has dropped at the Miss America Organization, which had endured a revolt by dozens of states this summer against the national leadership of the pageant headed by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson.
    The crowning of the latest Miss America took place last month with the pageant's national leadership largely silent on the calls for their resignation from many states.
    But now the national organization is undertaking a purge of rebellious state officials, terminating the licenses of four states, threatening about 15 with probation — and thanking others whose officials stood by the national leadership in the first Miss America pageant without a swimsuit competition.
    States whose licenses are terminated must replace current leaders. They can request an appeal hearing from Miss America's executive committee.
    The Miss America Organization would not say how it decided which states to terminate and which to threaten with probation, issuing a statement to The Associated Press that read, in its entirety:
    "The process regarding Miss America state licensees is confidential."
    State officials say their dissatisfaction stemmed not from the elimination of swimsuits, but by the way Carlson and CEO Regina Hopper ran the organization since taking over in January.


    Georgia and West Virginia are among states that were notified in recent days that their state licenses are being terminated, Paul Perkins, a lawyer representing both states, told The Associated Press. And a Pennsylvania state pageant official, Chet Welch, confirmed his state has gotten a termination notice as well.
    One other state also has been terminated, according to state officials and a former national board member, but its officials did not respond to messages seeking comment Monday.
    Other states have been asked to explain — in writing — why they acted as they did in the run-up to the pageant.
    A state organization that has its license terminated can no longer claim to be affiliated with the Miss America Organization and must, among other things, turn over bank accounts with scholarship money to the national organization.
    Vaden Barth formed a GoFundMe account called the Miss America Organization Leadership Change Fund that has raised over $22,000 to help states defend themselves and advocate for new leadership at the top.
    When this year's pageant was held last month, 46 of the 51 state pageant organizations (the District of Columbia is included) had called on the two to resign, along with 23 former Miss Americas.


    It followed the release of a remarkable letter from the outgoing Miss America, Cara Mund, in which she said she had been marginalized and bullied by top pageant leaders. An investigation commissioned by the Miss America Organization found no evidence to back up that claim, but investigators did not interview Mund for the report, which was issued the day after the most recent pageant was held.
    Carlson, who was Miss America 1989, and Hopper depict the opposition as a "noisy minority" resistant to change, particularly one as large as the elimination of the pageant's swimsuit competition.
    But many state officials say their opposition is rooted in a lack of transparency and communication from national leaders, and does not involve the swimsuit decision.

    Source: USA Today, 10/8/2018

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    Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 20) — A photo with an Israeli fellow has cost a Lebanese beauty queen her title.
    Miss Earth Lebanon 2018 Salwa Akar had lost her title after posting a picture with her Israeli counterpart Dana Zerik on Facebook. The photo, which shows the two gesturing a peace sign with their hands, comes with the caption, "My advocacy is to help people find peace and love within themselves so they can love each others (sic) and become peaceful with our mother earth."
    Akar, later on, took down the post.
    The spokesperson of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday took to Twitter to react to the revocation of Akar's title. He also condemned "Lebanese apartheid."
    Miss Lebanon Salwa Akar who participates in the pageant had her title revoked today in Lebanon b/c she "dared" to take this photo w/ Miss Israel.

    Miss Israel Daza Zreik is an Israeli-Arab, who proudly represents her country.

    Lebanese apartheid must be condemned.
    204 people are talking about this
    In what seems to be an act of defiance, Akar posted on Instagram, saying she would "finish what I started with or without your support and love."

    Lebanon and Israel have been at war with each other for years now. In fact, people who hold Israeli-issued passports are prohibited to enter Lebanon. There are ongoing efforts to stop the conflict, but the two nations have still yet to sign a ceasefire agreement.
    The management of Miss Earth has yet to comment on the incident.
    The coronation night of the annual pageant will be held in the Philippines on November 3.
    Source: CNN Philippines, 10/20/2018

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  • 10/21/18--13:20: Miss Globe 2018



  • The 2018 edition of Miss Globe was held on October 21 at the Amfiteatri i Tiranës in Tirana, Albania. The lucky winner is Yu Yizhou of China. Her court includes:

    1st runner-up  -  Montana Lynette Farrah-Seaton, AUSTRALIA
    2nd runner-up  - Perihan Koz, TURKEY
    3rd runner-up  -  Rosa Fariello, ITALY
    4th runner-up  - Alba Bajrami, ALBANIA

    Completing the top 15 were the delegates from 
    Canada, Russia, Brazil, Vietnam, Myanmar, Estonia, France, Portugal, Philippines and Romania.

    Special Award Winners:

    MISS BEST NATIONAL COSTUME - Jasmeet Kaur Arneja, INDIA
    MISS GOLDEN GIRL - Valērija Mickēviča, LATVIA
    MISS TOURISM GLOBE - Paula González Falcón, SPAIN
    MISS DREAM GIRL - Michele Theresa Imperial Gumabao, PHILIPPINES
    MISS ELEGANCE - Yekaterina Sergeyevna Grudtsova, TATARSTAN
    MISS PASSION - Paola Sofía Tanguma Villarreal, MEXICO
    MISS PHOTOGENIC - Natalia Roczniak, POLAND
    MISS BIKINI - Alba Bajrami, ALBANIA
    MISS FRIENDSHIP - Paula González Falcón,  SPAIN
    MISS TALENT - Laurène Gildas Via, FRANCE

    Forty-five young women from all over the world competed in the Albanian-based pageant.

    Source: Miss Globe

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     Clara Sosa of Paraguay was crowned Miss Grand International 2018 on October 25 at The ONE Entertainment Park in Yangon, Myanmar. She is the first woman from her country to win the crown since the pageant began in 2012.  After hearing her country's name as the winner, Sosa was in state of shock, fainted, and fell on the stage floor while her first runner-up, Meenakshi Chaudhary from India, looked for help. 



    After being revived by the pageant staff, Sosa managed to regain her strength, be crowned, and do her victory walk. 


    Completing her royal court were (l-r):   3rd  Runner-Up Nicole Colón of Puerto Rico, 2nd runner-up Nadia Purwoko of Indonesia, 1st runner-up Meenakshi Chaudhary of India, and 4th runner-up Haruka Oda from Japan. 

    Sosa will be staying in Thailand for one year during her reign and taking her journey to over 15 countries around the world to promote the campaign  "Stop the War and Violence."

    Photo credit: Miss Grand International Facebook

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  • 11/03/18--12:57: Vietnam Wins Miss Earth 2018



  • Nguyen Phuong Khanh, a 23-year-old marketing student from Vietnam, was crowned Miss Earth 2018 on Satuday, November 3, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Philippines. Nguyen is the first woman from Vietnam to win the pageant which is now in its eighteenth edition. 86 young women from all the world competed in the popular pageant whose mission is to promote the care and preservation of the planet Earth. 


    L-R: Mexico, Colombia, Vietnam, Austria

    Nguyen's court includes Miss Earth Air 2018 Melanie Mader of Austria, Miss Earth Water 2018  Valeria Ayos of Colombia, and Miss Earth Fire 2018 Melissa Flores of Mexico. Completing the top 8 were the delegates from Italy, Portugal, Philippines and Venezuela. Rounding up the top 18 were the delegates from Chile, Netherlands, Slovenia, South Africa, Brazil, Ghana, Japan, Montenegro, Nepal and Romania. 

    Nguyen was crowned by outgoing queen Karen Ibasco

    The show was broadcast worldwide and streamed live via Miss Earth's Facebook page and YouTube. James Deakin hosted for the second consecutive year.  Entertainment was provided by multi-awarded recording artist Brian McKnight

    The pageant was without any drama. Miss Venezuela Diana Silva collapsed backstage and was unable to join the rest of the Top 8 finalists. Her faint is reminiscent of Clara Sosa who fainted after she was crowned Miss Grand International 2018 last week. Allegedly, Silva was replaced by the next top scorer, Miss Vietnam.


    An Instagram photo shows Miss Venezuela Diana Silva (lying in a gurney) who recovered from her faint, surrounded by the Venezuelan team led by national director and former Miss Earth Alyz Heinrich (far left)







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    Photo credit: Instagram


    Nariman Battikha of Venezuela was crowned Reina Hispanoamericana 2018 on November 3 in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. Battikha is the seventh Venezuelan to win the crown.  Elected as the Virreina ("Vice-Queen") is Isabele Pandini Nogueira of Brazil.

    The list of runners-up include:
    1st runner-up - Mexico - Aranza Anaid Molina
    2nd runner-up - Paraguay - María Belén Alderete
    3rd runner-up - Bolivia - Marian Joyce Prado
    4th runner-up - Chile - Camila Ignacia Helfmann
    5th runner-up - Ecuador - Lisseth Naranjo Goya
    6th runner-up - Cuba - Gleidys Leyva Rodríguez
    7th runner-up  - Peru - Jessica McFarlane
    8th runner-up  - Europa Hispana - Daniela Santeliz Acosta

    The pageant, which began in 1991, seeks to promote Hispanic culture around the world. It was initially limited to countries where Spanish is spoken, but a few years ago it opened to countries with some Spanish influence and to Hispanic communities in the United States and Europe.

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    Miss Earth-Canada Jaime Yvonne Vandenberg, Miss Earth-England Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown, and Miss Earth-Guam Emma Mae Sheedy


    Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 8) — Three candidates of Miss Earth 2018 bravely came forward to reveal their experiences of sexual harassment involving a sponsor during the international beauty pageant, which was recently concluded in the Philippines.

    Miss Earth Canada Jaime Yvonne Vandenberg, Miss Earth England Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown, and Miss Earth Guam Emma Mae Sheedy all shared how excited they were to compete and to enjoy the Philippines, but it was ruined by a pageant sponsor's alleged sexual requests.
    Vanderberg, who eventually withdrew from the competition, said the sponsor started harassing her on her second day in the country. She said the sponsor got her mobile number without her consent and kept calling her to ask for her hotel and room number.
    But it didn't stop there. The candidate said the unnamed sponsor offered her competition mileage if she grants him sexual favors.
    "He showed up to almost all of my events telling me he could take care of my needs and asked for sexual favours in exchange to get me further in the pageant. I was disgusted," Vandenberg wrote on her Instagram page on Wednesday.
     
    Miss Earth England Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown also attested to this.
    "I enjoyed 50% of my trip but the other 50% was over shadowed by feeling exploited, vulnerable, unnerved & sexually harassed as I was approached by a sponsor on many occasions who asked for sexual favours in exchange for the crown," she wrote on Instagram.
    All three candidates recalled their experience with the sponsor when they attended two sponsored events at the Manila Yacht Club.
    Miss Earth Guam Emma Mae Sheedy said the Filipino sponsor, whom she identified as Amado Cruz, ensured that the team managers and security personnel were separated in another room during the event at the yacht club. She said he grabbed her bare backside during the National Costume Competition, but told her not to tell anyone about it.
     
    Vandenberg said seven candidates left the event after they felt uncomfortable and unsafe in the sponsor's yacht. She added some candidates were even invited to go to the newly-rehabilitated Boracay.
    "At an event at the Manila Yacht Club he took all of the delegates in my group to his yacht and had some girls take sultry photos. Again, I was disgusted. Later in the pageant we had another sponsor event at the Manila Yacht Club and he was telling girls he could take them to Boracay, as long as we didn't tell any one. A group of us left to sit out side as we did not feel comfortable. He followed us outside and was upset we were not dancing with him. The team mangers laughed and told us to be nice," she wrote.
    Gyles-Brown recalled how she and the other women were harassed.
    "It was not only myself and Canada who were approached on this night but other delegates who I believe are going to come forward and tell their side of the story... Myself and Jaime removed ourselves from this uncomfortable environment and sat on the bus away from further exploitation," she said.
    CNN Philippines is trying to reach Cruz for comment.
    Officials of the Manila Yacht Club, where the incident supposedly took place, said Cruz is not a member and could have just been sponsored by a friend who happens to be part of the club.

    Allegations vs Miss Earth organizers

    All three candidates believe Miss Earth 2018 organizers did not act on their complaints.
    Vanderberg said that she was able to talk to Lorraine Schuck, the founder and executive vice president of the production that runs the pageant. She said it took weeks before the Carousel Productions addressed her concerns.
    "I went through almost two weeks of sexual harassment before anything was done about it," she said.
    Gyles-Brown said that when she mentioned the Manila Yacht Club incident to Miss Earth organizers, they only scoffed at her.
    "Myself and Canada approached Team Managers to express our disgust only to be laughed at. Another official attendee of the night told me not to cry as I would ruin my makeup! There was no respect or compassion shown to myself or Jamie. I felt traumatised by this experience and had many sleepless nights," she said.
    Gyles-Brown said she was told by Schuck that the sponsor would not be allowed near the candidates, but it did not happen.
    "The said sponsor in fact show up at a preliminary event and also attended the Coronation night," she said.
    Sheedy believes that more candidates over the years will come forward with their revelations against the said sponsor.
    Another allegation from Vanderberg was that Miss Earth organizers confiscated her passport on the first day of competition.
    "The organization had confiscated my passport on the first day and I felt like I couldn't leave. When the team managers went into my room and took things from my luggage without my permission, I had completely lost faith in the organization," she said.
    Vandenberg also explained her decision to withdraw from the competition before the coronation night on November 3.
    "I was so excited because I had been to the Philippines before and loved the country and the people; however, the experience with the pageant was not what I had expected. I left Miss Earth because I did not feel safe under their care," Vandenberg wrote.
    Shuck said they will ban the alleged sponsor from the pageant's next events.
    However, she questioned why the candidates aired their issues online even if they have already talked about it. 
    "Medyo na-blown out of proportion... Naiba. So ewan ko ba kung bakit umabot to sa social media, eh natapos na kami noong October 14 pa. So I really do not understand. So if they're saying na tuloy-tuloy pa din yung harassement na naramdaman nila, bakit hindi nila sinasabi sa team manager at sa police," she told CNN Philippines on Thursday. 
    Source: CNN Philippines, 11/9/2018


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    Mariem Velazco of Venezuela was crowned Miss International 2018 on Friday, November 9,  at Tokyo Dome City Hall in Tokyo, Japan. Mariem was crowned on her 20th birthday by the outgoing Miss International Kevin Lilliana of Indonesia. Her victory marks Venezuela's eighth Miss International crown. The finale lasted for over five hours.


     Velazco's court includes first runner-up Ahtisa Manalo of the Philippines, second runner-up Reabetswe Sechoaro of South Africa (who was also awarded Miss International Africa title), third runner-up Bianca Tirsin of Romania, and fourth runner-up Anabella Castro Sierra of Colombia. Completing the top 8 were the delegates from Ecuador, Spain and Japan. Rounding up the top 15 were the candidates from Australia, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexico, Paraguay, Thailand and Ukraine.


    Photo credit: Facebook


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    The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 17 December in Bangkok, Thailand

    Despite being crown Miss Universe Spain, Ángela Ponce still faces anti-trans backlash
    Ángela Ponce, Miss Universe Spain
















    Ángela Ponce of Spain became the first trans women to be crowned Miss Universe back in June. Despite this trailblazing win, Ponce is still the subject of anti-trans bigotry in the media and online.

    Ponce’s win

    ‘I have to win not just for me but for all the people in Spain and around the world so the situation changes. Not just for the LGBTI collective but for all of humanity. I’m not just another Miss Universe candidate who wants world peace; I have a very powerful message of tolerance, hope, respect, love for oneself and others. I want to do all this under the Spanish flag,’ Ponce told EL PAÍS fashion magazine S Moda after winning the title.
    At that time, though, Ponce didn’t seem to expect the harassment that would be thrown her way.

    Backlash

    Since her win, Ponce has been the topic of anti-trans media reports throughout Latin America. They have gone so far as to show childhood photos of Ponce, as well as photos of her without makeup. Numerous television programs in Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela have spent hours on the subject of Ponce, debating whether or not she’s truly a woman.
    Twitter users added fuel to the fire by sharing memes questioning Ponce’s femininity and her right to compete in the pageant.
    Other Miss Universe contestants, both former and current, have also made comments about Ponce to the press.
    ‘They may call me old fashioned but I think there should be a competition, which already exists, for transgender people and another for girls,’ Vivian Sleiman, Miss Venezuela 2001, recently said.
    ‘I believe that a beauty pageant like Miss Universe is for women who are born women,’ echoed Valeria Morales, Miss Colombia. ‘And I believe that for her it will also be a disadvantage. And so we’ll have to respect it but not agree with it.’
    Morales will be competing against Ponce in this year’s Miss Universe pageant, taking place on 17 December in Bangkok, Thailand.

    Being the Bigger Person

    Despite all this hatred, Ponce remained strong and positive, seemingly taking the higher road.
    ‘I respect her [Morales] and I respect that that is her opinion, but I don’t want to go to Miss Universe with any prejudice against her or any other colleague,’ Ponce responded on Instagram.
    ‘My goal is to make people aware of my reality and to talk a little to the world about the lack of education on diversity. An important factor that without doubt leads to so much bullying, prejudice and violence. I ask for respect for both my fellow competitor Valeria Morales and for myself.’

    Source: Gay Star News, 11/25/2018

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    Vicent Llorach, 23, of Spain won the 2018 Manhunt International contest held on December 2 at QT Gold Coast Ballroom, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. The runners-up are as follows:

    1st runner-up - Dale Maher, Australia
    2nd runner-up - Luca Derin, Netherlands 
    3rd runner-up - Jeff Langan, Philippines
    4th runner-up - Mai Tuan Anh, Vietnam


    Vicent Llorach also won the Best Commercial Model


    Completing the top 16 were the delegates from Belgium, Brazil, China, Indonesia, Japan, Lebanon, Nepal, Poland, Puerto Rico, Sweden and the United Kingdom. 35 countries were represented at the 19th edition of the contest.

    Photo credit: Manhunt International


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    Zahra Khanum poses in her Miss Singapore Universe 2018 costume on Thursday (Nov 29). 
    (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)


    SINGAPORE: The man behind Miss Universe Singapore’s controversial Trump-Kim Summit costume has spoken out in defence of his design, saying that he is “happy with the final result”.

    The national costume - designed by Mr Moe Kasim of Moephosis Concepts in collaboration with Miss Universe Singapore national director Nuraliza Osman - has drawn much reaction on social media since it was unveiled on Thursday (Nov 29), with some questioning how the design is representative of Singapore.

    Inspired by the historic summit between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June, the dress features an electric blue skirt that fans out to reveal a hidden surprise - a huge digital print depicting the historic handshake between Mr Trump and Mr Kim.

    Miss Universe Singapore representative Zahra Khanum will parade it at the Miss Universe 2018 pageant in Bangkok next month.

    Mr Kasim told Channel NewsAsia that he was instructed by organisers to “design something based on the Trump-Kim Summit”. “I naturally thought of world peace and the elements of it, hence, the design,” Mr Kasim said in an email interview.

    The Trump-Kim dress represents the third consecutive year he has designed Miss Singapore's national costume.

    Mr Kasim also admitted that he was “a little hesitant” when he first received word of the design theme. “Honestly, I was a little hesitant at first due to the political sensitivities behind it. But in the spirit of promoting world peace, friendship and unity, I accepted the challenge.”



    Mr Moe Kasim designed the costume using the historic Trump-Kim summit in Singapore as inspiration. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)
     

    He added that he believed the organisers wanted to highlight “what was relevant, current and unique – something that was probably only going to happen once in our lifetime and in Singapore’s history”.

    “We accepted the design challenge in the spirit of supporting Singapore’s role in promoting world peace, friendship and unity,” Mr Kasim said.

    “This is just a representation of what Singapore stands for, which is world peace, and the fact that Singapore is reaching out to other countries to create positive relationships,” he added.

    Most of the criticisms surrounding the dress were centered around the choice of the Trump-Kim Summit as a design inspiration, the use of North Korea and US flags on a national costume representing Singapore, the absence of a Singapore flag, and the perceived inferior quality of the digital print.
     
    Mr Kasim said that among the challenges he faced while making the costume was the budget.

    “It was a challenge to design something based on an event. Even more so for something as controversial and contentious as this one,” Mr Kasim said.

    Designer Moe Kassim & Zahra Khanum

    “Budget was also another challenge. We had to make the best with what we have. I’m happy with the final result and I wish everyone will join me in cheering for Zahra at the finals now that the spotlight is on her, even from the international media,” he added.

    Mr Kasim also addressed comments by some who suggested that the Trump-Kim dress has similarities to Miss Turkey’s 2015 national costume, saying that any resemblances was a mere coincidence.

    “Honestly, I’ve never seen the 2015 dress until it was pointed out,” Mr Kasim said.

    “There has been thousands of costumes showcased over the years and it’s hard to keep track of them all. It’s purely a coincidence,” he said.

    The Miss Universe 2018 pageant will be held in Bangkok, Thailand on Dec 17.

    Source: Channel News Asia, Nov. 30, 2018

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