The ladies selected by the judges into the finals would go down in history as one of the most beautiful sets of finalists in any major pageant.  But then Miss World decided to add a wildcard with a People’s Choice winner (done by revenue-generating votes) who would join these finalists (if she wasn’t among them already).  Some pageant fans and pundits might think this sullies what was already utter perfection, but let’s look into the merits of the girl who won this honor, shall we?

6TH RUNNER-UP (PEOPLE’S CHOICE WINNER):  GIBRALTAR – Maroua Kharbouch.  Considering this is a small British-controlled territory of less than 30,000 total population, she was not regarded as a top favorite among pageant fans and pundits, and she was not highly favored by the judges (she didn’t figure in the Top 20 at all, and did not make the cut in any challenge event), how did she win the People’s Choice award?  I first presumed that she might have a few patrons (most likely wealthy British-Arabs of some sort) who was so willing to purchase the number of votes (remember this is a revenue-generating exercise) needed to put her to the top.  One person from the viewing party spoke to me theorizing that probably they made special weightings to account for this country’s small population but I doubt the people is Miss World has the capability to handle such a complex mathematical exercise if that was the case.  It turns out it was the Gibraltar government that was responsible, setting aside part of their public funds to ensure this girl makes the finals.

Now pageant fans and pundits may object to the fact that this special award winner got a free ticket all the way to the finals.  Most believe perhaps it’s tolerable to include her in the Top 20 or Top 10, but not the Top 5.  But then again, back at viewing party, blogger Joyce Burton-Titular recalled that winners of some beauty pageants of yore were determined by one who raised the most amount of money or votes, and this system seemed to be a nod to that old tradition.

Anyway, whatever your stand is towards having this kind of express pass into the finals, it cannot be denied that this lady is good looking and does communicate well enough–arguably she’s the best bet fielded by this country since Miss World 2009 Kaiane Aldorino.  Her presence may have diluted an exquisite combo of finalists, but not that much.  Her 30-second speech has substance, but let’s face it, beauty and glamour are still important aspects in choosing Miss World:  ” I believe I should be the next Miss World because I want to be Miss World of all the right reasons. The reasons being that I want genuinely to help people in need. I don’t want to beMiss World so that I could get my hand to something glamorous because those things won’t help the disadvantaged, those things aren’t the things that can help aren’t the things that change people’s lives. Stuff like beauty from within and kindness are the things that change people’s lives. And I truly believe that kindness is something that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

4TH RUNNER-UP:  BRAZIL – Sancler Frantz.  She ranked 5th in the judges’ interview with 178 points (5 points behind the leaders).  In terms of biggest gainer, she is in a tie for 2nd place with Australia with 145 points.  Her win in Beach Fashion was definitely well deserved after seeing the video shoot on the beach revealed she projected a very shapely hourglass va-va-voom figure even in a black one-piece and sarong.  In Beauty with a Purpose and Top Model she ranked 5th, and earned the basic 10 point credit for Sports and Multimedia.  She could’ve been the outright biggest gainer if she scored in Talent, but either she didn’t audition or failed to pass the first round to earn credits in this challenge event.  Entering into the Top 10 she was 2nd overall with a 5-point gap behind the leader.

She has been a top favorite by oddsmakers and was regarded as one of the closest to garnering the crown.   She seemed on track to a Top Three finish until the final interview came.  She actually started well and the substance of her answer was solid, but she insisted on elaborating on her thoughts further and that was what led her to fall from an almost guaranteed position in the court to this finish.  “Miss World is a reflection of the values that the world should have. It does not only focus on exterior beauty, but shows the sensitive person that is willing to work to help people in need.”  It was a complete thought as it is, but she insisted on elaborating further: . “I feel that with Miss World and Beauty with a Purpose, I can help many people and I think I have the strength to help many people through Miss World, and I believe that if everyone does their part we can make this a better world. [In English] Beauty opens doors but Beauty with a Purpose opens minds and hearts.”  I think she was dying to tack those last English phrases in as she feels it could make a big impact–and it’s a great catchphrase, but I think the judges may have found it contrived, hence they marked her down for it.  Anyway, she will always be fondly remembered as belonging in one of the best group of finalists in any major beauty pageant ever.

3RD RUNNER-UP:  SPAIN – Elena Ibarbia.  She was in a tie with Australia for 8th place after the judges’ interview, and was buoyed by her 2nd place finish in Sports and Top 11 finish in Beach Fashion.  Though most pageant fans and pundits were disappointed by her appearance in Top Model (they felt she lost her initial sparkle), it is apparent she actually bubbled under the Top 10 for a 15-point credit, plus another 15-point credit for her Beauty with a Purpose project.  Including participating in Multimedia and Talent, going into the Top 10 she ranked 8th with 281 points.

There were early photos of her gown fitting and some pageant fans and pundit wonder if the gown would look bridal.  Fortunately, it turned out that it’s a dreamy white confection, and the impression it made onstage helped ensure her entry into the finals over earlier favorites like Jamaica, England, Indonesia, and Australia.  For her 30-second speech, she said in English, ” I would like to say that to those people who really need help, with effort all in this life can be achieved. They must fight for their dreams because I have done it and it is possible. I will give to all those who really need help all my energies, all passion to make their lives a little bit more easier and more happier.”  It’s a nice, noble and sincere speech that probably helped her edge out Miss Brazil for a ranking slightly below the Top Three.  Her face expressed disappointment after the final announcement, as she was obviously aiming for Spain’s first win, but her placement is something to be proud as it’s the second best finish this country ever had in this pageant, just behind the 2nd runner-up finish back in 1961 by Maria del Carmen Cervera Fernandez.


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