-Beauty Queens Recount Experiences at Contests-
It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This means that not all people have the same opinions about what is attractive. In other words, the perception of beauty is subjective.
Forget the fact that among the unusual quotes attributed to Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is: “If you are ugly, you are ugly. Stop talking about inner beauty because men don’t walk around with X – rays to see inner beauty”.
Ideally, good character should be beauty’s main accessory. This cannot be read from mere looks. Therefore, Beauty Queens are supposed to be physically attractive, morally upright, as well as possess other exemplary qualities. They are expected to be flawless, in several respects. But is this always the case?
I sought to answer this question by speaking with some current and previous Beauty Queens that currently reside in Calabar, Cross River State. Please read their accounts of beauty and experiences at contests.
Helen Abobi, 2013 Miss NICO School of Catering, Calabar, stated that, “Most times people don’t really have respect for Queens because they know what they do. Even when they become queens, they are not as regal as they should be. When you see a Queen, you can’t even tell if that is a Queen or not.”
She disclosed that sexual encounters take place between organizers of some beauty contests and their contestants. Helen stated that although she has never experienced any form of sexual inducement or harassment during her involvement in contests such as Miss NICO School of Catering, Miss CRUTECH, Project Model and Cross River Most Beautiful Girl 2016 respectively, some contestants have complained about such unwholesome practices.
She said, “Most times I get to know this after the pageant. That is when stories start coming up. You hear them saying, ’It’s because I didn’t allow them that is why I didn’t win’. Such stories are many.”
Helen also stated that organizers of some beauty contests put pressure on some contestants by asking them to sell tickets for the final events. She said, “The organizers would tell you that the more tickets you sell, the brighter your chances of winning. So, some girls go any length they can to sell their tickets. They can even double the money for tickets in order to win the pageant.”
Does this imply that beauty and brains are not the only criteria for selecting beauty queens?
Peculiar David Sambo, reigning Miss CRUTECH (Cross River University of Technology) and FACE OF VALENTINE in Calabar stated that although this is the case in some pageants, it does not apply to pageants such as the ones she won. She said, “In my own experience, I didn’t give my body to anybody. It was on merit. I deserve it.”
On her part, Helen Tom West, 2016 Miss Charity Queen Nigeria condemned the practice of sexual inducement and harassment that exists in some contests. She stated that, “Most times the people involved use that opportunity to ask a contestant to sleep with them or even have a relationship, giving her conditions to win. Also, some contestants flaunt themselves around judges in order to sleep with them, just to win.”
She narrated her personal experience of contests, saying, “I was asked by one of the coordinator who is also a judge to have something with him, but I didn’t act rude. I only acted smart and always gave excuses. Each time he did so, I would bow down and ask God for directions. It was tough …. I told a friend that I can’t continue anymore, but she told me, ‘Stay Helen. You can win’. Most of the chaperons who liked my attitude and saw how I respect myself, also begged me to stay …. I had to call my mum because I was not concentrating. But at last, when God is on one’s side, no body can be against that person.”
In this vein, China Mnena, 2014/2015 Most Beautiful Girl in Abuja, and 2015/2016 Certified International Cancer Awareness Ambassador said, “I feel it is only the desperate ones that are involved in such cases. A Queen is meant to have high standards and have her own policy that no one can break. Sex should not be part of the criteria to win a pageant. It’s a No, No for me. All the pageant I have been to, there have been no encounter relating to sex.
It has always been free and fair contest …. However, we young girls tend to fall into such easily. What we need to do basically, is to go through somebody that has been there before. For example, an ex-beauty queen. We also need to listen to advice from people”.
Similarly, Deborah Sam, 1st Runner Up of 2017 Queen of Elegance contest (South-South) said, “If any body should come to you to exchange your body in order to get a crown, automatically, you won’t get that crown. They are just using you. But if you do it, you are just messing up yourself. It is not right.”
Olive Olaedo, 1st Runner Up of 2017 Queen of Nature Tourism Nigeria, had a view similar to Deborah Sam’s.
She said, “Those that do such things are desperate and most times end up not getting it. Being a queen is not a do or die affair. A girl who is decent is decent and would not sell herself cheap for a crown. Sex is out of the contest. It is a mindset that does it from outside or from afar. My experience so far has nothing to do with involving a girl illegally in sex.
My agency would tell you, if you like sleep with the boss, that is your business. It has no connection with winning. So, sex is so far from beauty contest. The organizers are only looking for an advocate, a beautiful girl who can represent the organization both inside and outside. They are looking for a beautiful girl who has the boldness to speak to many people about a pressing issue.”
Apart from the physical beauty, moral uprightness and intellectual depth of contestants of pageants, the integrity of contests can also be measured by the ability of organizers of such contests to redeem the prizes promised to winners. Some organizers promise to reward winners with cars, attractive cash prizes, travels to exotic places and similar promises. Are such promises always redeemed?
Watch out for answers to that question on this blog.
- Cornelius Ellah
Facebook: Cornelius Ellah