Some of the world's most important national beauty pageant organizations are facing a very tricky dilemma: how do you keep both the Miss World and the Miss Universe Organizations happy?! The major national organizations in question include the owners of some of the world's most prestigious national titles: Miss France, Miss Russia, and Miss South Africa.
It's common knowledge that the world's two most important international beauty titles, Miss World and Miss Universe have been taking very different directions in terms of what kind of contestants they want. Miss World is priding itself on having delegates who work hard for their chosen charities and the organisation's Beauty With A Purpose charity. Being a beautiful woman is no longer an absolute guarantee that you will do well at this pageant. There has not been an onstage swimsuit competition at this pageant for years and the contestants are encouraged to be well rounded, talented, sporty girls who try to make a significant difference in their home countries. Miss Universe winners and contestants are, on the other hand, also involved in charity work but pure physical beauty (natural or surgically enhanced) still plays a major part in this competition. The delegates should be able to sizzle in photo shoots and nail the onstage swimsuit and evening gown competitions. The differences in the approach to their pageants have never been more evident than in the last few years.
One could also assume that with Miss Universe Organization owner Donald Trump slamming the Miss World Pageant in the international media last year (http://www.newsmax.com/TheWire/donald-trump-bikini-ban-miss-world/2013/06/11/id/509353), the rivalry between the two organizations is at an all time high. Even though there was a very rare photo of the owner of Miss Word, Julia Morley, and the president of the Miss Universe Organization, Paula Shugart, and their then reigning title holders, posing seemingly happily together at last year's Miss Russia Pageant, most fans know that there isn't exactly a lot of love lost between these two organizations as they fight to be the number one international pageant in the world.
|OLIVE BRANCH?: This rare photo of the two heads of the rival organizations together in one room was taken during the Miss Russia Pageant last year. It even appeared on the Miss Universe website something which left some fans dumbstruck.|
Let's look at their options:
a) The winner goes to both pageants
Advantages: There is no clear preference for one or the other. The national title holder is the one representing her country at both pageants.
Disadvantages: If the pageant dates are close to one another, the girls will only have a short time to prepare for the next contest. Miss South Africa 2012, Marilyn Ramos, and Miss Russia 2012, Elmira Abdrazakova, had only about two weeks to prepare for the Miss Universe Pageant in Russia. Luckily for Miss Russia it was on home turf but poor Ramos had to rush back to South Africa to get ready for Miss Universe. Neither of them survived the first cut at either pageant. In total Ramos also spent almost two months of her reign out of her home country. (France on the other hand opted to send their winner to Miss World and look how great that turned out for them - their best result in 15 years! Their runner-up who was sent to Miss Universe failed to make the top 16 though.) Furthermore, it should be added that the different judging criteria in the two pageants have made it increasingly hard for girls to fare well in both these two pageants.
With the rivalry being so intense between the organizations, it has become very hard for one girl to do well at both pageants. The last girl who managed to do this was Chloe Mortaud, Miss France 2009. She placed in the top 10 of Miss Universe 2009 (6th place) and Top 7 of Miss World 2009 (4th place). Tatum Keshwar of South Africa did very well at both pageants that year too (7th at Miss Universe and 3rd at Miss World) but you need to take into consideration that Miss World was held in South Africa that year so she had the home advantage. There have been other girls who did well in both pageants. Yendi Phillips of Jamaica and Ada Aimee de la Cruz both placed 2nd at Miss Universe but both had to compete for a second national title after they had already passed on their first national title. (Another topic for discussion that is not completely relevant to this topic but could be touched upon: did their stint at Miss World cost them the Miss Universe title?! I'll always wonder about that, especially in the case of the latter.)
|CORY'S ANGEL: Miss World Philippines organizer got her first Miss World in|
only her 3rd attempt. Her first delegate was the runner-up and her second was in the top 15.
Advantages: Both organizations will probably pleased with this kind of approach but only if both pageants are equally prestigious and "important". It didn't work so well for Venezuela last year as Miss Venezuela was clearly still a hundred times more prestigious than the "new" Miss World Venezuela Pageant.
Disadvantages: Now, let's be real here... in this day and age with most pageants struggling to find sponsors due to waning interest in beauty pageants, can an organization really afford to do this? Of course not. It could perhaps work in pageant obsessed nations but one is still always seen as more prestigious than the other. For the same organization doing two pageants, it is almost an impossible task to pull off but it has worked rather well on occasion when a different franchise holder started organizing a rival contest. The best example of this is of course the Philippines. Cory Quirino managed to achieve the almost impossible in just three years: a runner-up (2011), a top 15 finalist (2012), and Miss World 2013. But not all franchise holders have Ms. Quirino's influence, contacts, and resources... and the support of a pageant adoring nation.
Advantages: This is probably one of the easier ways to make both organizations happy but it has its own set of challenges. One of the most important rules would be to ensure that both are seen as completely equal but then who do you crown first?! Isn't the one crowned first just in actual fact the runner-up with a title and a big, shiny crown? It has worked to a certain extent though for countries like the Netherlands, Guatemala, and Mexico but without yielding spectacular placements.
Disadvantages: The first and foremost would be that it would create major confusion amongst fans, especially in those countries where there have been one winner for ages. In South Africa for example, we have always had a Miss South Africa. Now let's say they start crowning co-winners, a Miss Universe South Africa and a Miss World South Africa, the fans would be left wondering what happened to Miss South Africa. It could do major damage to their brand especially since the official Miss South Africa has always been the face of the brand and the organizations. Having two girls appear on television, the media, and at public appearances, would just create major confusion. And would it be even possible (financially) to manage and support two title holders instead of one?! This seems like the biggest reason why this will not work in most countries where pageants are still popular to a lesser extent than the ones where pageants are a part of the popular culture.
|AIMING FOR THE UNIVERSE: Miss SA 2011, Melinda |
Bam's decision to skip the Miss World Pageant in favor of
the Miss Universe Pageant was a brave choice. The question
remains if it left a sour taste in the mouths of the MWO.
d) Alternating or delegate's choice
Advantages: In a highly case where an appeal can be made to the organizers that it would be absolutely impossible to do any of the above, they could suggest alternating. The winner goes to pageant A one year and the following year's winner goes to pageant B. This could (and I'm using this word extremely loosely) be a way to try and convince the organizations that both franchises are very important to them. An alternative could be to allow the delegate to decide which pageant she wants to compete in. This would then basically show that the organizers do not show favoritism to one pageant above the other. But it is highly unlikely that this move will go down well with the international organizations.
Disadvantages: The major disadvantage is that it is very likely that (in the very unlikely situation where this might be accepted) a country will probably just have a shot at doing well at the pageant when the winner goes. So that could mean something along the lines of one token placement every 10 or 15 years. The runner-up will always be the one that suffers the most in this scenario.
Having the delegate choose could also provide problems. Melinda Bam's decision to skip the Miss World Pageant was widely reported about in the South African media and rumor has it that the Miss World organizers were not too happy about her decision.
Advantages: Personally, I would say there aren't too many advantages that come with this choice. However, it seems like it has worked for some countries. Alexandria Mills was handpicked and she won Miss World 2010. But this is a terrible example as there have been several conspiracy theories amongst fans that "explained" her victory over hot favorites like Miss Norway, Miss Botswana Miss Ireland, Miss Scotland, and Miss South Africa. But will it work if one organization has a pageant for one contest and then handpicks for the other?!
Disadvantages: Even though the Miss World Organisation has (apparently) made it very clear to their franchise holders that they only want winners, handpicked delegates still continue to do rather well in this pageant to the confusion of directors and fans alike. How do I explain this: it could be that they are still giving new directors the opportunity to get themselves going or in some cases special circumstances have "forced" them to allow this. This does not really work too amazingly well at Miss Universe... unless you are Fadil Berisha. So the ones who will suffer the most disadvantages would probably be one franchise holder with both franchises.
|EXCLUDED: Miss France runner-up, Hinarani De |
Longeaux, was left out of the Miss Universe top 16 while
the real Miss France who competed for the Miss World title
was named the runner-up to Miss World 2013!
Advantages: Even though it worked for France at Miss Universe in 2012 and Guatemala Universe in 2012 (they had a good reason though), I still think there are absolutely no advantages associated with this option.
Disadvantages: You are bound to infuriate one or both of the organizations. It would be a clear indication that one is favored over the other. It's not even hard to believe that they will feel the wrath of one or both organizations. This would be extremely unfair to the young girls involved. Let's say the winner is a very deserving girl but not right for pageant A's and goes unplaced and the runner-up is equally deserving but is sent to pageant B where her best shot is a top 15 or top 10 finalist just because she is the runner-up. This would not only do an injustice to a young girl (or girls) but could also turn out to be a very, very costly experiment for the organization involved. This will just ensure that so many potentially deserving girls stand and clap in the background because of pageant politics. And regardless of what anyone says, I will always believe that these pageants are still businesses first and with that comes politics and strategic decisions.
g) Giving up one of the franchises
Advantages: I'm starting to think that if it's impossible for one girl to go to both pageants, this might be the second best choice the directors have. They would make it clear to one organization that they are loyal to them and could reap the benefits for years to come. Some made say that is the case for Binibining Pilipinas (Miss Universe Philippines) while others would say that the Miss World franchise was taken away from them so it's utter rubbish as it was not exactly their choice. Another element that could make this argument invalid is that both organizations have probably discovered what a valuable market the Philippines is because of the popularity of pageants there. Ecuador could rather be seen as an example instead. They had their best result at Miss Universe this year after giving up the Miss World franchise. Switzerland has also done rather well at Miss Universe in recent years.
An organization could also use all the resources available to them to prepare and send one girl to the contest of their choice instead of having double the expenses when they send girls to both pageants. It costs a lot of money to be competitive at a pageant these days.
|NEW BEGINNING: The first Miss World Ecuador Pageant took place last year|
Finally, let's talk a look at the statistics of the last 5 years:
National winners: 11 (including Miss World 2009, 2nd runner-up, 3rd runner-up, 4th runner-up, 6th runner-up)
Co-winners: 4 (including 1st runner-up and 5th runner-up, Japan crowned Miss World Japan at the conclusion of the Miss International Japan Pageant)
National winners: 12 (including Miss Universe 2009 and all her runners-up)
National winners: 16 (including 1 RU, both top 5 placers and 1 top 7 placer)
Co-winners: 3 (including 2 RU, 1 top 7 placer)
Handpicked: 4 (including Miss World 2010)
National winners: 12 (including Miss Universe 2010* and all her runners-up)
Runner-up: 1 (Miss Guatemala had to withdraw due to an injury)
* Even though a Miss World Mexico was crowned, Navarette's title was Nuestra Belleza Mexico 2010)
|ALL WINNERS: Miss World 2010 was handpicked but Miss Universe 2010 and her entire court each won a national preliminary in her own country before making it to the Miss Universe stage where Mexico took home the crown.|
National winners: 24 (including all the runners-up)
Co-winners: 3 (including the winner of Miss World 2011)
Handpicked: 3 (including one top 15 semi-finalist)
Runner-up: 1 (one top 15 semi-finalist)
National winners: 15 (including Miss Universe 2011 and all her runners-up)
MISS WORLD :
National winners: 20 (including Miss World and all 6 runners-up)
Co-winners: 4 (1 top 15 semi-finalist)
Handpicked: 5 (2 top 15 semi-finalists)
Runner-up: 1 (1 top 15 semi-finalist)
National winners: 12 (including Miss Universe 2012 and all her runners-up)
Co-winners: 2 (1 top 10 finalist, 1 top 16 finalist)
Handpicked: 1 (top 16)
Runner-up: 1 (top 10)
National winners: 19 (including Miss World 2013 and all her runners-up)
Co-winners: 1 (top 21)
Handpicked: 1 (top 21)
National winners: 16
|THE WAY OF THE FUTURE?!: Each one of the top 16 semi-finalists of Miss Universe 2013 won a national preliminary|
* Special thanks to Edwin Toledo of The Times of Beauty for helping with the statistics.