Miss World 2013 was supposed to be a showcase for the entire nation of Indonesia, presenting the nation as prosperous and progressive.  Unfortunately, the old-fashioned conservatives that previously hindered Indonesia’s participation in pageants two decades ago reared their ugly heads, raised a furor, and threatened to stir up trouble, forcing the government to order the organizers to limit activities to the predominantly Hindu and already-established tourist destination of Bali.  All this, despite Miss World bending over backwards by converting the Beach Fashion event from the usual bikini-fest into  modestly-draped sarong fashions.

Misses France and Austria during the closed-door Beach Fashion event.
The 11 Beach Fashion finalists at their photoshoot.

Despite the inconveniences and adjustments due to the protests, in general all challenge events were conducted smoothly while barely missing a beat.  Plus they are duly and properly documented–for instance for the Sports Challenge event, all contestant groupings (which are actually applicable for most events) were fully disclosed at the get-go; in previous editions, most pageant fans and pundits had to do logical deductions to figure out how the contestants were grouped because the groupings were not officially published.

Elimination stage of the Sports Challenge event.
Volleyball match during the Sports Challenge final

Though there are lulls in between challenge events which were filled by other activities like     a safari tour, a visit to the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, night shopping, and commemorating the International Day of Peace, among others, this year pageant fans and pundits were spoiled with the amount of material to check out, making following their activities fun.  Besides photos, there are the individual Facebook pages where each contestant could provide insights and updates, introduction videos prior to their arrival in Bali, profile videos shot as soon as they set foot at the host island, and for 74 of them, we finally also get to watch their Beauty with a Purpose projects on Miss World’s YouTube channel or on the official website.

All 127 contestants plus Miss World 2012 Wenxia Yu at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park
Commemorating the International Day of Peace

The competition heated up with the Talent and Top Model challenge events.  The Talent challenge event was notable as the winner was announced (with the host country winning), while for most of the other events only the shortlists were disclosed with no announcement of winner–that would be done during the finals.  The Top Model event seemed like a fitting and glamorous bookend to the Opening Ceremonies as in general the 48 Indonesian designers presented delivered a gala that showcased the contestants at their elegant best.

Winner of Talent: Operatic Indonesia
The Top Model Finalists

This year’s Miss World pageant has finally broken out of the 120-contestant ceiling, as this year it attracted 127 contestants all told.  This, even with the absence of usual regulars like Israel, as Muslim Indonesia tows the line with most of the Arab World in not recognizing this nation.  I am organizing this homestretch review slightly differently from my usual reviews:  first, instead of the usual strict alphabetical order, I will organize them according to their groupings (I have previously done this with my Miss Earth 2012 and Mister World 2012/2013 homestretch reviews); second, each grouping (a two-part review each) would be almost self-contained; third, I am deviating from the usual order–normally I would follow the group numberings as dictated by the pageant organization, but I will place one particular group last–for narrative, personal, and patriotic reasons; and finally, as you would observe, I have separated my intro into a separate section and my concluding thoughts will also be a separate article.

Supposed to be going to Miss World, but going to Miss Universe instead: Israel’s Yityish Aynaw (image sourced from xnet.co.il)

So, dear readers, hope you will join me as I embark this journey assessing the 127 contestants of Miss World 2013…

All images courtesy of Miss World, Ltd. unless otherwise indicated.