It is interesting that the Top 12 is filled with lesser-regarded countries instead of your usual heavy-hitters. It makes for a refreshing mix, admittedly. But still there are some ladies of stronger merit who I felt would be worthier of belonging here instead of some of the ladies who mnade it, like…
MARTINIQUE – Larissa Segarel. I understand her brand of exotic and I have no objections to her making the Top Model shortlist. But I thought her interview skills are raw and suspect and even thought she’s among the bottom five. But somehow the insiders love her–is it her makeover late in the game as she changed from her straightened hair with bun to an Afro? As she said onstage as interviewed by Angela Chow, “My Afro is my personality.” Oh, I so miss TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, and this reveals the drawback of the Continental system–wouldn’t you rather see COOK ISLANDS, JAPAN, or even CHINA instead of her?
SCOTLAND – Linzi McLelland. She’s a bit of a surprise to me, but she’s a brunette cutie with a great advocacy about suicide prevention fueled by her own personal experience. She also made the shortlist in Sports. The insiders felt she’s the top performing UK girl this year, so for that quality they were inclined to choose her to advance to this hallowed position, though I feel that the formidable Asian ladies could’ve taken that slot in her place. Still I don’t really object to her presence here.
MAURITIUS – Murielle Ravina. Thanks to her strong communication skills and advocacy, she edged out the usual suspects like NIGERIA and SOUTH AFRICA and made it this far. She earned her Top 30 slot by winning the head-to-head challenge. She is only the 3rd person from her country to make it this far in this pageant, and though I don’t find her conventionally pretty, I respect her well-rounded personality (she’s a political science major who has a knack for fashion design–her red cocktail dress with train is actually fabulous) and strong communication skills and she’s worthy of belonging here.
NEPAL – Shrinkala Khatiwada. This country turns out to be having a banner year, actually topping INDIA at its own game. She is a bright communicator with a glamorous charisma about her, that it’s not surprising she’s shortlisted for Top Model. But she shone brightest in Multimedia and BWAP, winning both and compensating immensely for losing her head-to-head battle with SINGAPORE. She’s proven to be a worthy choice of belonging here, even with the formidable presence of COOK ISLANDS, CHINA, and JAPAN nipping at her heels.
FRANCE – Maëva Coucke. Many expect her to be the top European performer and be the Continental Queen for Europe. SHe has that gorgeous face and toothy smile of two very illustrious predecessors, Miss World 2013 1st runner-up Marine Lorphelin and Miss Universe 2016 Iris Mittenaere. Many fans (including myself) felt she has what it takes to reach the lofty heights achieved by those two ladies. She made an early splash winning Top Model. Though I found her charming enough in her head-to-head challenge video, other pageant fans and pundits sounded the alarm that she’s disappointing when she speaks. Well, their concerns seem warranted when she lost her showdown with MAURITIUS. And then when she’s called to the Top 12, admittedly what she said, as charming as it is, is weaker than what was delivered by the lady who ended up winning the Continental title. I do agree with some Miss World detractors that Miss World is waiting for the right girl from this country to bring France its second Miss World win (after more than 65 years) but it seems they would need to wait a bit longer…
MISS WORLD – OCEANIA: NEW ZEALAND – Jessica Tyson. Though I don’t find her conventionally pretty, I’ve been hearing buzz that she’s a highly favored girl. Partly this is because of her outgoing personality and superb communication skills, and a human-interest story being a sexual abuse survivor (which also served as her advocacy) and her background as a journalist reporting about Maori topics, supporting their cause. Her BWAP advocacy was her key to making the cut as she made Top Five (tied in 2nd with INDONESIA), but she also was a major player in Sports as she won the swimming portion of that competition, and adding to the insiders’ favoritism of her, she was also shortlisted in Top Model even if most pageant fans and pundits don’t feel she’s modeling material. But there is one contender from the Asia region who out-performed her and officially she is part of the Asia & Oceania continent and this is supposed to be treated as one region. But after the results, the insiders decide to change their mind and reward her with a continental award as Miss World – Oceania anyway. This is not the first time they did this–a similar thing happened when Megan won five years ago and Australia’s Erin Holland was belatedly given that official designation after the final results were announced.
MISS WORLD – AMERICAS: PANAMA – Solaris Barba. This is a spoiler as since 2016 if the original continental winner wins the overall title of Miss World, the next-ranked contestant from that region will then end up with the title. Many presumed the next-ranked lady would’ve been CHILE, but this lady has been stealthily winning over the insiders and nipped her in the end. Both her and CHILE’s BWAP projects landed in the Top 12 but we have to hand it that this lady’s project is more impactful as her project deals with natives suffering from albinism. She also got shortlisted in Talent with her Salsa dancing, in Sports, and in Top Model. Though she didn’t secure a head-to-head or fast-track win, those achievements made her such a contender that it’s expected she earned a slot via interview.
COMING UP: THE FINAL FIVE