Monday, December 19, 2016

Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach of the Philippines, Miss Universe 2015

Pia Wurtzbach of Philippines, Miss Universe
2015. Photo by Fadil Berisha
Miss Universe is considered as the 'holy grail' among the world's countless beauty pageants. It is the most-sought after beauty crown, a girl could wish for. With over 6 million valid followers (not robotic trolls) around the globe (as of this writing) in its facebook page, there is no doubt, that Miss Universe is the most popular and highly admired beauty pageant organization. 

But how to win Miss Universe? What are the strategies to pursue and the traits that a candidate should possess to win the crown? 

Well, as a pageant enthusiast who has been 'stalking' the contest for years, I have observed these 12 common characteristics that are mostly inherent among the past victors along with their brilliant game-plans that they used during the competition.

Jennifer Hawkins of Australia, Miss Universe 2004 (right)
with Shandi Finnessey of USA (1st Runner-Up)

1. Sheer Confidence – A Miss Universe should be confidently beautiful with a heart! The kind of confidence that emanates from the inside. Not vulgar and pretentious, but something that is endearing, graceful and elegant. Genuine confidence that does not translate into arrogance nor thrives with self-importance but rather upholds humility and sincerity.

2. Captivating beauty – To win Miss Universe, a candidate
Oxana Fedorova of Russia, Miss Universe 2002
should have a beauty that stands out! The competition is stiff! There will be more than 80 gorgeous women from around the world in contention for the crown so it is very important that the contender should be easily noticed from the crowd. She should have the kind of beauty that is a cut above the rest. A girl with an exotic beauty and pleasantly unique physical features would usually stand out when she’s standing next with fair-skinned contenders. Mulatta candidates, Eurasian beauties, the Latinas and even those of Asian-Pacific Islander descent, could easily pull off this captivating look.

3. Toned beach body – The Swimsuit competition is one of
Paulina Vega of Colombia, Miss
Universe 2014
the most significant, determining factors so that the candidate can proceed to the next round and be included in the Top Ten Finalists where they will compete for the Long Gown. And to look good in the bikini round, the candidate should be gorgeously fit and toned with no flabby abs and unwanted fats by the time she competes.

A Miss Universe also endorses Yamamay Swimwear throughout her reign. Yamamay brand is one of the major sponsors of the organization so it is essential that their ambassador would be able to carry their bikini outfits with aplomb.

4. Gorgeous gown – The 80 plus girls in contention are all
Ximena Navarrete of Mexico,
Miss Universe 2010
beautiful and all of them are trained on how to carry their gowns. So a beautiful candidate with a great catwalk would still be edged out with the other girls if she’s wearing a mediocre gown. I am not saying that the sole criterion of the gown should be grand and fabulous. What I am trying to say is that, the gown should at least complement with its wearer. The gown should be able to hide the flaws of the candidate and enhances its strengths. It should be able to create an illusion of perfection, if not elegance to the girl who wears it. A perfect example of a beautiful candidate with excellent catwalk skills but wears an unflattering gown during the finals is Mary Jean Lastimosa of the Philippines during the 63rd Miss Universe (technically Miss Universe 2014) in Doral, Miami, Florida. She wore a lackluster white mermaid-cut gown designed by the Colombian designer Alfredo Barraza during the Top Ten Long Gown competition which according to most of the pageant aficionados, was the very main reason why she failed short to go through the Top 5.

5. Elegant catwalk – Having excellent catwalk skills will
Gabriela Isler of Venezuela, Miss Universe 2013
help one dominate the pageant stage. This is especially important in the Swimsuit and the Long Gown Competition which are the main determining factors to crack through the Top 5. The girls in contention are all gorgeous, and to stand out from the rest, a contender should exude that confidently beautiful and captivating persona on stage. However, it is very important not to overdo it. It has to be at least natural and flawless. The walk should also complement well with the kind of body structure the contender has. No single catwalk style would work for all. For example, the ‘Tsunami Catwalk’ popularized by Shamcey Supsup during the Miss Universe 2011 finals doesn’t work well with everyone. Develop a catwalk skill that is uniquely yours - mesmerizing, impeccable and classy!

6. Smart and sassy – 
The winner becomes the organization's ambassador in spearheading its charitable causes and mission-vision. During their reign, they are
Pia Wurtzbach of Philippines
Miss Universe 2015
expected to dedicate themselves in advocating for humanitarian issues and raising awareness to affect positive change through philanthropic
 endeavors. A Miss Universe should be able to answer questions with wit, eloquence and substance. Notice how Pia Wurtzbach, the reigning Miss Universe, does it. 

7. Impressive communication skills – This is particularly important during the make or break question and answer portion during the top five and the top 3 segments. She should be able to articulate her thoughts well in words with conviction and sincerity to win the judges. The candidates’ communication skills are usually the downfall of most of the candidates during the closed-door interview where the organizers would select the girls who are deserving for the Top 16 slots. That is why, we often wonder why an 'uber' gorgeous girl did not even make it to the Semifinals.

8. Engaging personality – To win Miss Universe, one
Dayana Mendoza of Venezuela
Miss Universe 2008
should know how to charm the crowd and the judges. She shouldn’t be boring to talk to. She should have that engaging, sunny personality that certainly knows how to spice up a conversation. This is very important during the pre-pageant activities where the organizers and staff will observe how a specific contender behaves and how she gets along well with the other candidates.

9. Huge fan base support – Fans are a huge help for the candidate not just in terms of popularity but also in terms of emotional and psychological support. There are a lot of energy-depleting challenges in the competition and a strong support system is greatly significant for the candidate to overcome it. They are the ones who cheer and fight for their bets on and off the stage. Their deafening cheers and thunderous applause during the finals will certainly inspire an aspiring candidate to do her utmost best in winning the crown.

10. Sash factor - Powerhouse countries in beauty pageants
Olivia Culpo of USA, Miss Universe 2012
like Venezuela, Philippines and USA are usually the ones who couldn't be left out in the Top 16 and more often than not, end up winning or at least enjoying a Top 5 placement. They are the ones who are the most prepared among the bunch with a legit team of pageant experts. These powerhouse beauties usually get most of the attention from the pageant's followers and considered the front-runners in the competition. On the flipside of the coin, the expectations are so high that they become very pressured to win or at least nab a Semifinal slot. The Venezuelan and the Philippine delegates couldn't just go home to their respective countries without placing, otherwise they will be crucified by their rabid fans. Their training is more rigid and tailored to perfection, no wonder why they could easily get the judges' nod.

11. Steadfast faith - As what the old adage says, 'You can
Leila Lopes of Angola, Miss Universe 2011
move mountains even with faith as small as the mustard seed'. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. In a sea of the world's most beautiful and competitive women, it requires a tremendous amount of faith to stand out and win it all. Plato once said, 'You are twice armed if you fight with faith'. Steadfast faith enables one to withstand and successfully overcome those near-insurmountable challenges that can hinder a candidate from winning the crown.

12. Tons of luck - All of the women competing in Miss Universe are their countries' best. These women are all beautiful, they are all accomplished and would fight tooth and nail to make their respective fellowmen proud. If the stars of the universe would align on someone's
 favor on the coronation night, that is, if one has more luck over the others, then she would surely make it. Winning Miss Universe is one's destiny. 

Natalie Glebova of Canada, Miss Universe 20o5

Amelia Vega of Dominican Republic, Miss Universe 2003


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