Not so Pretty

   So we have a beauty queen on her way to represent our country and town in South Africa next week. She won the national competition, and with the fanfare she deserves, the town embraced her as a winner and a representative. She’s young, she’s beautiful, fun-loving, and as of this week, uncertain if she’ll be able to make it to her destination.

    Let’s see; so far, she has had to host a barbeque fundraiser, she’s resorted to asking for sponsorship from any and everyone, she’s planning a mini fashion show to raise even more funds, and still her goal slips away ever more. In order to attend this pageant, she must raise at least $30,000 ($15,000US) – for clothes, travel expenses, incidentals and more. She has been hitting every business imaginable (in a time when business is non-existent) at the behest of the pageant organizer, to try and raise these funds.




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    My question is simple: why hold pageants and then expect the winner to do all the fundraising? Isn’t that what the pageant organizers are there for? Before all else, before even calling on young ladies to partake of a pageant, shouldn’t there be a guaranteed package that includes travel and clothing? Other than standard prizes, there should be not a promise, but a guarantee that whatever international pageant the winner attends, all is taken care of.

    Imagine the stress that the young lady has to go through, not knowing if all the hard work and effort will pay off, not even sure if, at the last minute, she’ll be stranded at the airport, wanting to board a plane, but the ticket hasn’t been paid for. The simplistic approach would be for every resident on the island to give $1, and that would be a guaranteed $20,000 right there. But not everyone believes in the hoopla of pageantry. What about our Minister of Culture (and Tourism)? What about the BTB? With their resources, and their constant need for advertising opportunities, how come they’re not supporting or even footing the bill if push comes to shove? Why is this beautiful young lady expected to fundraise in the first place? All she should be worrying about is how to pose and how beautiful she can make herself before sashaying onto an international stage.

    Imagine if she places! Belize is notorious for poor showing in pageants, but have organizers and naysayers ever taken into consideration the stress placed on a young lady to not only represent well, but also to practically pay for her own way to the stage? If the only stressor on the representative’s mind was whether to wear her hair up or down, maybe we could expect better.

    But again, Belize is a small, relatively young country. I hate hearing that excuse being whipped out – but it is a fabulous scapegoat for the fact that pageantry is sorely lacking in organization, funding, and moral support. The pageant world in Belize is so topsy-turvy. A local beauty pageant winner will take home 5 times the amount of cash than an international pageant winner. That’s right, Miss San Pedro will sometimes take home up to $2,500, whereas a Costa Maya winner will win a mere $500. Don’t even ask about the runners-up. The local girls take home amazing packages, while the international beauties must pack up and leave for their homeland the next day.

    Someday, hopefully, Belize will step up its game. We keep insisting that we want to be at the forefront of tourism. Every time we send a local beauty to mingle and represent us, that’s a form of advertisement. Every time her image is aired on international television, and every time her country is named, that is hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of publicity. Take some of that money saved and make it worth her while, and she’ll blossom, unfold, and show the world true Belizean beauty. Ignore her, and Belize will find it hard to shine.           



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