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Mon, Sep 27, 2010
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Offer beauty queens better perks such as university scholarships
by New Straits Times

DATIN Josephine Fonseka believes that beauty pageants in the country have not changed since her glory days. "It is just as difficult now as it was for us before. I don't think people are okay with it these days, there's still a lot of reservations because people's perception of beauty pageants has not changed very much.

"My parents were very supportive of me joining the pageant. If they had not been, I would not have been able to enter and win.

"The main difference between then and now is that before, it was similar in every country -- an even playing field. Today, Western countries have moved forward whereas Asians are still very conservative in this aspect.

"In my time, we had less body enhancement services and cosmetic surgery was not well accepted, so the Western contestants did not have that advantage. Today, although we have it here, we still fear to tread. We are handicapped in that aspect.

"I'm not encouraging cosmetic surgery, but if we can find the middle ground between too much and too little, that would increase our chances of winning the crown."

Support from government and family, she says, is also greatly lacking.

"I think support from the parents is not so forthcoming, resulting in it being impossible for many girls to embark on this journey. We are a very family-oriented nation and parental support plays a very important role.

"But why are parents not supportive? It's mainly because our government is generally not supportive.

"If you look at European countries, the outlook is totally different. Young women are enticed to join beauty competitions because of the great prizes, including university scholarships.

"European contestants are encouraged to better themselves in various aspects, even before going for national beauty contests. After winning, they are encouraged to improve themselves further.

"Some are even given free gym memberships, so when they go for the Miss Universe pageant they are already 'there'. That's where we lose out."

However, Fonseka believes that the local pageant industry is making progress.

"There was vast improvement in last year's organisation and support. Throughout the pageant, Nadine Ann Thomas (MUM 2010) had a lot of television time, she was scanned as though she would be one of the top. Many local and foreign blogs also thought she had a really good chance.

"I think she was good, but Malaysian contestants need to be a bit more daring in their approach.

"Organisers should be going to colleges and talent scouts. If you go from that angle, you might get some good and intelligent girls. And if you give university scholarships, the right people will come in.

"Ultimately, you can have the idea but you need the money. Everybody has to change their perspective of beauty pageants.

"It is for the winner and organisers to establish the right image and branding for us to do better. If it is built correctly, people will accept it better and parents will be more encouraging of their daughters joining beauty pageants."

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