There are many detractors who questioned the motives of Thai TV personality Nawat Itragrisil when he founded the Miss Grand International pageant. Some of the objections include: 1) he’s plagiarizing/copying the Miss Universe pageant; 2) he’s poaching pageant franchises from Miss World and Miss Earth to have representatives to his pageant; 3) on the heels of a “scandal” that rocked Miss Earth four years ago, he has been spearheading a smear campaign against that pageant; and 4) his “Stop the War” theme is a contrived, cliche, laughable concept that is too nebulous and impossible to focus and execute as an advocacy. This on top of stories of disgruntled candidates who withdrew from the competition over the past couple of years, and culminating in the controversial dethronement of last year’s winner, Dominican Republic’s Anea Garcia.
But at least the one who replaced Anea, Australia’s Claire Parker, was very effective in dispensing her duties and made great strides in promoting the Grand International brand and making the “Stop the War” concept workable, noble, and feasible. And we also have to hand it to them that the production values in all three previous editions of this pageant are of a relatively high standard, and the quality of the contestants are nothing to sneeze at. Hence, for the first time ever I am doing a homestretch review of this pageant.
It’s interesting that this year, this pageant is being held in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. It doesn’t dispel Objection No. 1 mentioned above, but it’s a fresh change that this pageant doesn’t need to be always staged in its home country of Thailand. Still there are some detractors that pointed out that the odd weekday coronation date, the lack of “charity” visits, and how regular hotel guests are allowed to occupy the pool (seemingly oblivious to the event) of the Westgate Las Vegas resort and casino during the swimsuit competition seem to indicate the pageant is operating under some budgetary constraints, but then again, all major pageants operate under such constraints also.
In general the activities (mainly sightseeing along with the swimsuit and national costume presentations) went along smoothly. But three days prior to the final, the pageant was rocked with two withdrawals–one an acrimonious story and the other an unfortunate mishap. Coincidentally the common thread is that the two withdrawals are Nordic blondes.
ICELAND – Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir. This Miss World 2015 alumni is a decent, attractive contender. Though I don’t think she has an inside track to the Top 20, I thought she’s generally all right, even if she seems a tad unpolished and yes, not in the buffest form. But her stories reporting that Nawat told her to lose weight is uncalled for–especially since the Donald Trump / Alicia Machado brouhaha 20 years ago came back as a Presidential debate issue recently. Being a fat person myself, calling Arna “fat” is plain wrong as she isn’t fat at all. Besides there are also a few other contestants who are not in the best shape but why are they not singled out? Also pointing that out to the contestant should be none of the owner’s business–you simply let her go about her business at her own risk, and let the eventual judging results speak for itself. Arna aired her sentiments on social media, then was prevailed upon by the organization to explain the incident was a “misunderstanding” but then eventually took it back to withdraw.
According to Nawat’s side of the story, the “fat” comment came about as Arna asked him about what would be needed for her to succeed in this pageant. Perhaps he was too blunt about it–perhaps the diplomatic way to approach it is simply state that most people expect a certain standard but if she’s happy in the shape she’s in, all she could hope is the judges at hand would share the same opinion. Remember Migbelis Castellanos in Miss Universe 2014?
SWEDEN – Victoria Ericsson. This lady has the looks to be a Top 20 contender, but it seems during rehearsal she injured her foot and could not seem to proceed further to compete in the crucial Preliminary Competition. I have a feeling unlike Iceland, who had to pay the unused stay at the hotel out of her own pocket, this lady is perhaps still in Vegas and would be given the Ana Halozan* treatment for the pageant finals.
*So named after the Slovenian contestant in last year’s Miss Universe pageant who had to drop out due to a seizure that led to injury
COMING UP: ARUBA to ECUADOR