If you love beauty pageants, then you would have followed the just concluded 72nd Miss Universe event hosted by the beautiful country of EL Salvador. Sheynnis Palacios, the 23-year-old mental health advocate from Managua, Nicaragua was this year's winner; A first for her country.
For me this year, the best part of this event was the representative from Nepal, Jane Dipika Garrett. It takes a lot of courage to be present in these sorts of events knowing you brought something different and the internet trolls in the comments of her social media pages could not help themselves. She was the shining light shattering the usual standards you see on the stage and giving women like myself something to remember. For this sort of event, she would be a "plus-size" and you don't see much of that on these types of stages.
Her confidence and how she carried herself was the extra spark the event needed. It is proof that rigid beauty standards are changing. A woman who was the epitome of "beauty standards within reach" because how many women around the world can keep up with these modeling measurements? Most of us walk around letting our heads down in regular clothes and getting on with our lives. I say many women across the world felt seen and more women like her need spaces on these platforms.
Beyond the side talks about how specific regions of the world ended up in the top 10, Jane's presence shines as the highlight. I need not mention the underwhelming performance of the Nigerian delegate this year, Ugochi Ihueze. The Nigerian issue should be a whole article about how the organizers, Silverbird who send delegates every year have continued to dole out sub-optimal representatives since Agbani Darego.
I had high hopes things were getting better after the Nyeka Douglas era but alas. The fact that Ugochi could not strut properly in her evening gown from the prelims was a red flag. A lady who had previously won top Model in a previous competition and was not new to modeling. There was potential no doubt beyond her pretty face but the preparation was abysmal. She relatively performed worse than the last time she represented Nigeria.
Getting myself emotionally worked up by Nigerian issues interwoven with chronic cronyism is not something I plan to do for the rest of the year.
Thank you Jane for showing up and I do hope her participation opens up more conversations about beauty standards in pageants and more inclusion at national levels. Makeup brands are finally embracing diversity since Rihanna launched the Fenty range but runways and pageants still need to do better.