Pageant Glam - Empowerment Through Beauty

Saturday, July 14, 2018

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The history of pageants in Jamaica dates back many decades to the days as a British colony where the winner of the Miss Jamaica beauty contest was rewarded with a trip to compete at Miss World, whilst the first runner-up went on to compete at Miss Universe. Of note, however, is that Miss Jamaica 1964 Mitzie Constantine was selected to compete at Miss Universe 1964 with her runner-up Erica Cooke becoming Jamaica's representative at Miss World 1964. Whether you are a fan of beauty pageants or not what is very clear today is how very much embedded they are in Jamaica's culture evoking a passion that has undoubtedly been fuelled in no small part by our impressive success on the international stage, especially in the Miss World beauty contest where the country has had three winners and countless runners-up.

At Miss Universe, although Jamaica has had no winners, strong finishes were recorded with several top 10 placements courtesy of Sandra Foster (1989), Kimberly Mais (1991), Nicole Haughton (1999), Christine Straw (2004) with Yendi Phillipps (2010), Kaci Fennell (2014) and Davina Bennett (2017) placing in the top five. Pageant placement aside, however, the platform provided by beauty contests gives young women the opportunity not only to impact their wider community positively, but also serves as a tool of empowerment to fuel future success. Today's Under The Dryer features the 12 beautiful Jamaican women who began the quest for the 2018 Miss Universe Jamaica (North East) title, crown and a place in the national finals of Miss Universe Jamaica 2018. The eventual winner — Miss Exquisite Wicker Ashley Thomas — is now one step closer to being a global beauty ambassador for her country.

Critics of beauty pageants will argue that such contests reinforce the idea that girls and women should be valued primarily for their physical appearance and that this puts tremendous pressure on them to conform to conventional beauty standards by spending time and money on fashion, cosmetics, hair styling and even cosmetic surgery. On the flip side though, in addition to providing a platform that empowers young women, pageant contestants have credited their later successes in life to the strong foundation provided by entering said pageants.

In fact, whether or not you agree with the critics, what is undeniable is that many of Jamaica's global beauty ambassadors have gone on to develop solid careers in politics, medicine, law, media and countless other industries, but more importantly, serve as positive role models for women in Jamaica and the rest of the world. Jamaica may be a small island state but it has nevertheless established itself as a Caribbean standard of beauty in the global arena.

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