Don’t get me wrong because I personally believe that MGI 2016 Ariska Pertiwi from Indonesia is such a lovely winner, as well as the three previous winners of Miss Grand International. This is not about the winners but the beauty pageant organization itself, together with its full-laden controversies since its inception in 2013 and the relevance of its advocacy.
First, MGI allowed country-dodgers from Cuba and Dominican Republic from participating in the contest despite being American citizens. Both Cuba and the Dominican Republic won the grand titles in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Second, MGI pushed its agenda with MGI 2014 winner Lees Garcia to visit a refugee camp in a war-torn area between Syria and Iraq for its ‘Stop The War and Violence’ advocacy as well as a humanitarian visit. Needless to say that the safety of Lees Garcia was put at risk.
Third, Miss Dominican Republic was forced to resign as MGI 2015 and abdicate her crown to Australia for not fulfilling her duties, and was deemed too demanding or was demanding unreasonable requests. After a few months, another controversy shocked the pageant when Macedonia was exposed and that she lied about her true age – she was 34!
Fourth, Miss Iceland was told to cut down her food intake during the MGI 2016 pageant in Las Vegas because the owner called her fat. Miss Iceland left the contest half-way through and posted on her social media account that she is no longer interested in joining any beauty pageant.
So why are we not protesting Miss Grand International?
Probably because in the scheme of things, the controversies are still not considered as harmful as they were expected to be. A lot of us still embrace beauty pageant in general as a bigger, stronger platform in strengthening causes and voice of young women. We also cannot deny that our beauty queens today have broken away with the traditional concept of being mothers or housewives, and instead of turning into professional careers.
Let me also persuade you that budding beauty pageants such as MGI deserve a lot of chances to improve itself. If I may suggest, MGI should raise the level of awareness on its advocacy without compromising personal safety, and that it should develop its worthwhile causes in Thailand or in Asia to get a wider fan base. The winner should be given ample time to influence and make a real difference in her own country and an area of her choice, in this case, Indonesia, to create a ripple effect but not to the point of commercial exploitation.