Monday, July 24, 2006

She came, she smiled, she fainted

Miss Puerto Rico is crowned Miss Universe 2006. Ten minutes later she faints, because her dress was too tight.

A barrelful of laughs is not the word Donald Trump would like viewers to use to describe the Miss Universe pageant whose franchise he owns. But that’s exactly what it was.

Who watches such shows? Only idiots like me, who tuned in to Star World expecting to see Frasier. Only to discover Miss Universe 2006 was Monday night comedy. Just a slightly different form of it.

Where does one begin? Miss USA’s purple chiffon gown inspired by a wedding cake, perhaps? The poor girl looked like she would fall flat on her face, any moment.

Then there was the compere’s cheery assertion, “One girl’s life will change tonight!” Never mind if no one remembers the name of last year’s winner…

But, as expected, the question answer round provided the most laughs. Miss Japan is asked, “Which event in world history would you like to change?”. She confidently declares: “Men and women are the same… except men have more physical strength”…

Yeah, so she didn’t answer the question but obviously that does not matter. The girl with the best cosmetic dentist and clingiest outfit won the crown. When asked to define ‘success’ she rattled off a 5 sentence long answer in Spanish which, translated into English means “Gimme that crown, buster!”

Miss Japan – the historically challenged young lady – merely came in second. And Miss Puerto Rico did faint. I’m not making that up! There she is, getting carried away...

"She got dizzy. It's very hot up here. Her dress is tight - as you could see it was beaded and heavy," explained the organisers. She's had 'plenty to eat today' they further clarified...

Perhaps that accounts for the tightness of the dress! :)

The politics of the crown
This year, in a desperate attempt to revive the popularity of the pageant, the contest was held in Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium. The same venue as the coveted Oscars.

As we all know where the contest is held has a lot to do with who wins it. Ideally, Miss USA would have won – but that would have appeared too blatant. So she merely makes it to the top 5. Miss Puerto Rico is a fine substitute. Short of official recognition as a state, it is United States territory.

But Puerto Rico is ‘Latin’ enough to satisfy the Hispanic and South American audience as well. Two birds killed with one stone!

It’s no coincidence that Miss Japan won 1st runner up and Miss Switzerland came in third. The signal, clearly, is to give the pageant a ‘First World’ sheen once again.

All those who fret about India not making it – coldly examine the statistics. Miss Universe is more of an American pageant. The 3 countries which have won the maximum number of titles are USA (7), Puerto Rico (5) and Venezuela (3).

Miss World, on the other hand, is a British pageant. The top three on this list are India and Venezuela (5 titles each) and the United Kingdom (4 titles).

The honey is where the money is. I don’t know what Venezuelan mamas mix into their chica’s Farex but for the other girls, clearly nationality does play a role in tipping the scales.

I’m sure Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame will one day oblige with a more detailed analysis! And one day, we may even have a Miss Universe contestant write a racy book on what really happens behind the scenes at such pageants.

But the good news is, we have a Miss India contestant who’s done that already! Ira Trivedi, a contestant at Miss India 2004 has just published an amusing and altogether convincing account of the madness that goes behind the method in the desi leg of the pageant.

The book is called "What would you do to save the world?" Title accha hai na? The book's no masterpiece but a good read for sure.

Just finished it yesterday, which is one of the excuses I have for pausing to actually watch the Miss Universe pageant. I feel like an insider, now that I am familiar with terms such as 'quarter smiles', 'half smiles' and 'full smiles'. Not to mention the joys of 'stick-on bras'...

A separate post is required to do justice - and one shall shortly follow!


  1. Ya, who is bothered on the Miss universe Pagents now....used to be a rage when the Indian beauties used to win it and subsequently enter Bollywood...the events of this year only show the stupidity attached with the organisers...So much for beauty!!

  2. according to the wiki entry, Venezeula has won it 4 times..

  3. I was the editor of the Women's Center Newsletter at my university... the kinds of body image issues and cases of anorexia we came across was astounding!

  4. the pursuit of beauty indeed!

  5. Well I dunno how many articles, books, blogs or news channels have been absorbed to understand the need for a Pageant - but - this is how I see it:

    Most of the Pageants are involved with a large list of Charitable Organisations. These Organisations prefer to excite their 'benefitors' (people who are in need of such charity - emotional / physical / economic) with a mascot. A mascot who they can look upto and someone who helps them draw hope.

    The hype generated around the world (for obvious commercial reasons and for the lack of innovative programming from the broadcasters end) is unfortunately, a necessary evil.

    We don't have to be quick to dismiss any such process. It's a pity that women who do participate in such pageants think that its all about the exterior, while what the organisers are primarily looking for is someone who can dance to their tunes while carrying the values they would want her to represent.

    You might as well get a pet dog (domesticated), who you could train to jump through all the hoops rather than a free-thinking stray.

    Believe me when I say from my personal experience that the 'Star Factor' does bring a wide smile and surprisingly gives hope to people who have none.

  6. I loved your voice in this piece- This is what I'd call sparkling humor!

  7. They just want someone dreamy to look upto and the Miss Universe Pageant conjures up one for them, unfailingly, each year.

  8. Best laugh I had all day!!
    Hey remember the Miss World Peagent that Priyanka Chopra won a few years ago?She made an obvious faux pas about wanting to be Mother Theresa when aske about a living role model or something?

    Beauty contests=no brainer?I wonder
    Or is it 'stage fright?'

  9. Was it just me or did the ladies all look like each other? Their figures and big smiles I mean. I wish they had a bigger range of body and face types, since we're not looking for intelligence here.

  10. La vida loca - You know you got it wrong my friend - If you got the opportunity to earn millions, get famous and get laid more often …. You'd stand on the roof shouting how you wanted to become a Mother Teresa.
    That, is the real 'no brainer'!

  11. Ha ha ha. I swear I always used to wonder how these girls manage to fit into those clothes, walk with such heels AND smile. Man, one day in a sari and I am grumpy for the whole week. :P

    Btw, just read your article abt the truth abt earning in dollars on rediff. Very well researched post. A friend and I were discussing this same issue sometime back, but we didnt have the purchasing power parity perspective.


  12. And I seriously doubt the "she had plenty to eat" part. Remember that desi band Viva. Soon after the band disintegrated, Mahua (the best voice of the lot) said that they were made to survive on 2 almonds (!!!!) for a whole day, and made to exercise, sing etc etc..

  13. Puerto Rico isnt First World. Ok its an US territory by that logic India would be a part of the First World while it was a British Crown Colony.

    Latin American has a greater percentage of hot women as a percentage of their population compared to any other part of the world. Indian Women, well ;) - there are a few hot women here n there but compared to all the women out there in India that percentage is very small, most being short and ugly, truth hurts !!!

  14. "..I don’t know what Venezuelan mamas mix into their chica’s Farex but for the other girls, clearly nationality does play a role in tipping the scales..."

    he he good one :)

  15. hey ms bansal whats this ur writing on "OUTDATED THINGS" like beauty pagents ...
    :-) just kidding..... common everyone knows what they are worth ..and how always they are mother teresa wannabes including our DESI BEAUTIES . actually i would be interested in ur thoughts on the current fad .. thts real TV i rememember seeing something
    abt small town kids being caught up in all whole hype and landing up in some kinda trouble

  16. Puerto Rico is a spanish speaking latin nation.
    It’s political status is that of a self governing commonwealth(it’s official name is: Estado Libre Associado de Puerto Rico), not fully sovereign yet but heading towards that at full speed.



  17. great post !

    as you said its a comedy show,watched it from the middle and it was real fun especially when i was expecting the japa chick to say something abt hiroshima...that wud have been real fun on a world stage...she said some and women something

  18. It's high time Indian beautites won a title of two. Mr. Arjun Singh wake up, do something...

  19. maam whatever ppl may say that beauty contests r no brainers....intelligence is not tested....the fact is these contests r not for testing brains....these shows r for showcasing gorgeous and hot girls on stage in an elegant way.....and people enjoy watchim it....organizers , promoters and participants make money...some charities get funds...and ppl like me get to watch so many beautiful girls on stage at the same time.

  20. But one interesting thing about the contestants is that everyone of them wants to do SOCIAL SERVICE after she wins the crown. Even our Indian Divas who won the crown promised a lot of sociawork on stage. But the only social initiative they took up was acting in FILMS !

  21. Talking of getting an inside view, i remember seeing this episode on TV called "Bitches and Beauty Queens". don't remember the channel. it was a behind-the-scenes thingy of the Miss India contest when Neha Dhupia won. When rehearsing for the actual show, 2 or 3 of the contestants were complaining that Neha is getting to walk alone when others are only walking in 3s and 5s and 7s. Made me think that the contest must have been fixed alright.

  22. Good one! These contests certainly have nothing to do with intelligence. I can't believe Miss Japan said something like that.

  23. funny post

    to be fair..there isn't a q&a section in the mr. universe contest...(I'm sure it's good for a few giggles)...i just can see Arnold Schwarzenegger saying "I'll be bach" when asked for which Composer he'd like to be reborn as (heh ok...i know that joke is old, but you gotta admit it still is funny :) )

  24. One thing is certain....the guy who held her when she fainted became the first person to hug the lady after she won the crown!

  25. By the way...that was Jammy who blogs at

  26. Felt as though I saw it live. I was laughing so much! Thanks for a well-written piece.:-)

  27. hmmm...that was the most hilarious Miss Unverse Pageant I have ever he he...nice post....thanks for making me i wonder how could i have missed this contest this year...:-)

  28. that is funny! it's sad though , this huge event is just a marketing thing's just so ugly

  29. Anonymous2:16 PM

    Hmm this just me who remembers Priyanka Chopra bringing back the departed Mother Teresa as "alive" person and winning Miss World ..sounds crazy bcoz few years later an Indian beauty had lost the crown for answering something wrong,perhaps politically

  30. What do you mean no one remembers the name of last year's winner?! Pavlova, right? Canadian, right? Real hot as well, right? No?

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  33. Anonymous8:04 AM

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