What did Aishwarya say to win the Miss World title?
About how hollow beauty contests really are:
Let beauty contests be beauty contests. Why cloak them under a veneer of respectability by pretending to ask “intelligent” questions? Or proclaim righteously that it is the winner’s “inner beauty” that counts? Or maintain that the contest’s main purpose is charity? After all, it is quite impossible to evaluate the girl’s intellect or philanthropic nature as she parades up and down the stage in a swimsuit and is asked a few “tricky” questions by glamourous judges!
Take the beautiful and graceful Miss Philippines. She definitely deserved better than to be eliminated even before the semis. She put her foot in her mouth however, by admitting to the audience that in case she became Miss World it would be a big boost to her career as a radio broadcaster! How artless, yet how honest! Honesty not being the most sought after virtue in such contests, the girl lost out. The beauties who made it to the semis were Misses Croatia, Zimbabwe, India, Venezuela and South Africa. All of whom were smart and , of course, beautiful.
Yet Miss Croatia and Miss Zimbabwe were eliminated from the semis—presumably because they did not give the right answers. Answers which did not in any way reveal their lack of “inner beauty”. Miss Croatia was asked which event in the history of the world would she like to change. Very emotionally she spoke of the war in her country and the people suffering. She would have liked to prevent that, she said with quiet intensity. Alas, she had confined herself to what concerns her country, not the world! She did not talk about compassion for the underprivileged and love for humanity. Nor did she mention barriers put up by caste, colour, religion or sex. She was too genuine for the judges to handle. And so, they failed her.
Miss Zimbabwe fared worse. She was quite flummoxed by a silly question put to her by the brawny and handsome star of The Bold and the Beautiful : “If you win the contest, what would you say to the other contestants?” The poor girl, after a minute’s hesitation, mumbled that she would tell them that they had all won!
That left three contestants: tall and lissome Miss Venezuela, grey-green eyed Miss India and the attractive, intelligent-looking Miss South Africa. Now the judges had to make the painful decision: who had the most ” inner beauty”?
Miss Venezuela was asked the trickiest question- a question to which there cannot be no “right answer”, making us wonder whether the winners had been decided beforehand, and the questions no more than a hypocritical charade. Why were there beauty contests even in 1994, asked Iman, the famous international model. Because women will always be women, answered Miss Venezuela spontaneously. A sentiment probably shared by all the organisers of the contest, but which they could not publicly admit to! The answer ensured Miss Venezuela the third place.
The girl who was the first runner-up, Miss South Africa, was well prepared for her question. She spoke in a few, short, clipped sentences about race inequalities and the underprivileged. She got a roar of approval from the audience. Our Aishwarya Rai was not to be outdone. If she became Miss World, she was clear about what she would do, she said. She was concerned for the world’s suffering little children and about poverty and inequalities of race, colour and sex. She spoke smoothly and it was obvious that her little speech was well-rehearsed. And she as we all know, won.
If “inner beauty” is about mugged-up lines delivered with a beatific expression on one’s face, then Aishwarya certainly deserved to win. If the contest is about external beauty, even then Aishwarya deserved to win. But if “inner beauty” is about truth then we still don’t know who the real winner is. Ofcourse Ash may have inner beauty…but she didn’t show it that day. If she had she would never have won.
(A review of the contest written for The Telegraph, Calcutta)
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