Several pageant fans and pundits got collectively riled up in outrage over this year’s combination of the Top 16, particularly finding the presence of a couple of ladies in this mix upsetting.  I agree that there are several worthier options out there than the two perceived headscratchers, but how some pundits decided to dismiss the entire roster because of the perceived headscratchers.

The conspiracy theorist in me senses that the early elimination of Paraguay (Egni Eckert) and Puerto Rico (Bodine Koehler) despite their sensational Presentation Show performances was simply because so it would be easier for the “favored one” to win, and these two had critics and detractors prior to the Presentation Show so they were the easiest of the “Magic Eight” (see the end of my Homestretch Review to determine who they are) to be dismissed.  As we review the Top 16, we’ll discuss further how this theory would unfold.

INDIA – Shilpa Singh.  This is the selection that most pageant fans and pundits were most outraged by.  Though I don’t really regard her as a cellar-dweller and do concede she makes a polished presence, I don’t think she performed at a level worthy of belonging in this hallowed group–there are at least six worthier choices from the Asian continent in the reckoning of most pageant fans and pundits, that a Trump Ticket was obviously in play.   Though she does have strong stage moves, her figure clearly paled compared to the rest of the semifinalists and she doesn’t look as good with her hair up as with her hair down.  Considering the news that Miss Universe 1994 Sushmita Sen is letting go of the I Am She franchise, conspiracy theorists like myself believe that this obvious Trump Ticket concession might be like either a farewell present to salvage Sushmita’s poor track record (so she can save face and go out on a high note) or an incentive to whoever would be taking over the franchise for this country in the hopes of ratcheting up the quality of subsequent delegates from this erstwhile powerhouse.

Seriously, is Shilpa really better than any of these?  Japan's Ayako Hara, Korea's Seong-Hye Lee,
Seriously, is Shilpa really better than any of these? Japan’s Ayako Hara, Korea’s Seong-Hye Lee, Malaysia’s Kimberley Leggett, Sri Lanka’s Sabrina Herft, Thailand’s Nutpimon Farida Waller, and Vietnam’s Diem Huong Luu (images courtesy of Jory Rivera for OPMB Worldwide)

TURKEY – Çağıl Özge Özkul.  This is the other headscratcher in this year’s Top 16.  But, we can attribute this to perhaps Trump & Co. found her Leelee Sobieski features “refreshing”, and generally made a solid, though not remarkable, impression in this group.

PERU – Nicole Faveron.  I might have to reconsider her preliminaries performance that perhaps she indeed actually performed above P.A.T.I.S. level.  She is undeniably pretty, and she does have strong stage moves, even if most pageant fans and pundits were dazzled by the performances of Paraguay and Puerto Rico (not to mention the Philippines).  If a Trump Ticket was needed for her to make it, I’m not certain though I’m leaning towards yes.  Anyway, her figure is a bit on the skinny side compared to the rest of the Top 16 and this is why I rate her barely above the “headscratchers”.

KOSOVO – Diana Avdiu.  I was surprised at her belly during the finals–she didn’t seem to have a concave belly back at the Presentation Show nor in most photos taken of her, and it seems to be bulging out a bit this particular evening, and it made her figure seem relatively out of shape.  I never doubted that she made it this far on her own merit and that I didn’t really expect her to advance beyond the Top 16, but I thought she was in better shape than she appeared here.  Wonder if she decided to let herself go a bit after the Presentation Show, that she’s contented in simply landing the Top 16 and not going beyond that?  If so, we pageant fans and pundits feel that she should’ve put on a better fight than she did, but we’re still satisfied at her presence in this hallowed group.

I also have to note that she also got the distinction of winning the Miss Photogenic special award.  And the prize this year is not simply a trophy and $1000 in cash–instead, she has a contract with Trump Models and is entitled to a one weekend stay at Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas anytime in 2013.

POLAND – Marcelina Zawadzka.  I actually believe she also probably made the cut on her own merit, and didn’t need a Trump Ticket to enter.  It’s nice that this gorgeous and polished blonde contender broke the 23-year-old drought for her country (and Filipinos assumed that Venus Raj’s breakthrough after a 10-year drought was long!).  I would’ve liked her to advance over two other perceived Trump Ticket-holders who went further, but I suppose it’s really simply that the celebrity panel genuinely preferred those Trump Ticket-holders that evening.

CROATIA – Elizabeta Burg.  Some pageant fans and pundits feel that her styling that evening was the reason why she failed to advance further.  I recall one pageant fan describe her hairdo as a “1960s Bobbie Jo hairstyle”–this person probably recalls the 1967 smash called “Ode to Billie Joe” written and sung by country artist Bobbie Gentry, and I have to agree, especially if you see how Bobbie Gentry looked in those days (the person mixed up the song title and artist to come up with “Bobbie Jo”).

The conspiracy theorist in me could think of a darker reason why this utterly beautiful lady (a member of my “Magic Eight” even if she is actually like a wildcard) was prevented from advancing further–if she was permitted to advance, for the evening gown round she is likely to wear that long-sleeved flesh-colored number she sported at the Presentation Show with her hair in a regally elegant bouffant, and she could be a major threat that would prevent the “favored one” from advancing–especially since the “favored one” is going to wear a long-sleeved number too, and the powers-that-be believe that there is only room for one long-sleeved gown in the Top 10.  Oh, we can only dream what a classic Audrey Hepburn spell she would’ve delivered in the evening gown round–even if this lady reportedly doesn’t want to even win this pageant as she reportedly is uncomfortable speaking in public.

Imagine how she’ll perform in the evening gown round if she advanced… (image courtesy of Jory Rivera for OPMB Worldwide)
Bobbie Gentry (image sourced from classicacts.blogspot.com)

All images courtesy of Miss Universe LP, LLLP unless otherwise indicated.


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