The jury is out on beauty pageants — since the counter-allegation to the feel-good factor of a Miss Universe or a Miss World is that these occasions objectify women, while also putting in place a set of seemingly impossible “beauty standards”… after all, beauty should be in the eyes of the beholder, right? Having said that, there’s something invigorating about a Mrs World contest — simply because it conveys a message that a woman can be setting gold standards in the somewhat fickle world of beauty even as she embraces domesticity (remember, there used to be a time when if a woman was ‘married’, her chances at showbiz reduced greatly since it was — foolishly — assumed that she had “let herself go”?).
But the reason why the annual Mrs World pageant (held this year at Las Vegas) is trending today is for an even more deeper reason — and a reason linked irrevocably to the UAE. It was the country’s first entry in the contest, and the participant — Indian expat, Debanjali Kamstra — snagged the title of second runner’s up.
It’s almost symbolic that an expat wore the national colours of her adopted country, one she calls “home” since she’s lived here, like so many of us, for a long time. Much of the news doing the rounds is hinged on the fact that “she represented the UAE in a true sense”. Fittingly, at the National Costume Competition finale, Debanjali was attired in a gold ensemble inspired by “the Falcon”, the UAE’s national bird, created by a Filipino designer.
Speaking to this newspaper, Debanjali, a former flight attendant and currently a businesswoman and mum to two kids, said: “Considering I have spent more than a quarter of my life in this country, I could not think of anything else to represent this nation better than a Falcon.” It was a nod to woman power, humanity, inclusiveness, ambition, integrity and aspiration — all founding principles that have come to represent a lifestyle that is worthy of emulation.
That moment when the UAE secured third position in a tough global competition — on its debut at that — encapsulates the spirit of the nation: nothing is impossible if you put your heart and mind to it, while staying on course on the time-tested values enshrined. It was throwback to what happened at the grand Expo opening on September 30 last year, when 12-year-old Mira Singh, an Indo-Belarusian girl, dazzled the world in UAE colours and celebrated the country’s pluralism, and its ties that bind residents and citizens alike to its core.
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