Global Beauties Special: 2017 - Pageant Year in Review
TRIUMPHS, BREAKTHROUGHS, COMEBACKS... AND A SCANDAL TO END IT ALL
As the world prepares to bid farewell to the year 2017, it is time to look back on another year that was filled with many memorable moments in world of pageantry. It was a year of triumphs, breakthroughs, comebacks and it ended with a huge scandal that is threatening the existence of a system that has been around for almost a century. It's time to reflect on 2017:
THE GRAND SLAMS
With Miss Universe 2016 rolling over into 2017 (the second time in 2 years that it happened), we witnessed the crowning of 6 Grand Slam queens this year.
Miss Universe 2016 - the 65th Miss Universe Competition
2017 started on a high for pageant fans as the 65th Miss Universe contest (Miss Universe 2016) kicked off in the Philippines in early 2017. This pageant adoring country was, once again, a perfect host for the pageant and the 3 week long competition was filled with glamorous events, tours of the country and adoration from the local fans who treated the girls like they were A-list celebrities.
At the conclusion of the 65th competition, Iris Mittenaere from France was crowned the winner, bringing back the title to her country for the first time in 63 years. It was also the first time since 1990 (if you do not count Russia's victory in 2002) that a European contest took home the coveted title. Mittenaere enjoyed a brief (just short of ten months) reign but won the respect and hearts of the fans with her charm and grace.
Other highlights from the 65th edition of the pageant was Haiti's placement as first runner-up, equalling their best result ever (1975), Kenya's first placement ever at Miss Universe (top 6), Canada's first placement in a decade despite being body shamed and Panama's first placment since 2011.
Miss Grand International 2017
The 5th edition of Miss Grand International was a truly spectacular event hosted by Vietnam. The delegates were treated like royalty and Miss Grand International Organization's social media presence and determination to produce a pageant of the highest quality set the bar high for all the other pageants.
Peru's Maria Jose Lora won her country's first ever Miss Grand International title and will live in Thailand for the duration of her reign, working for the Miss Grand International Organization to promote their Stop the War and Violence cause.
Other highlights included Venezuela's first top 5 placement at this pageant and a fourth top 5 placement for the Philippines. Laos, Paraguay and South Sudan achieved their first ever placements this year.
Miss International 2017
Indonesia continued to flex their muscles in the pageant world with their second Grand Slam victory when Kevin Lilliana took home the title for her country. While the pageant's production remains poor in quality, we do value the history and tradition of this pageant, which is nearing their 60th anniversary.
Other highlights included 1st runner-up Curacao's Chanelle de Lau equalling her country's best ever Grand Slam placement (tied with their Miss Universe 1968 1st runner-up result), South Africa's second ever placement at this contest and first since 1965 and Laos (debut) and Ghana's first placements at Miss International.
Miss World 2017
Miss World return to China for the 8th time in its 67 year long history as this year's Miss World took place in Sanya for the 7th time. While their strong partnership ensured a top quality event, hosting the pageant in this country with its social media restrictions also continued their challenges with social media updates and news coming from the pageant much to the dismay of pageant fans and followers. A welcome addition to the contest this year was the Head to Head Challenges which gave all 118 delegates a chance to shine. We loved this new element of competition and hope that it will be continued in years to come.
Manushi Chhillar from India was crowned Miss World 2017 - a triumph for India who had to wait 17 years for their 6th Miss World, equalling Venezuela's record of having the most number of wins. Chhillar started her reign in spectacular style with a grand homecoming and huge press attention in her homeland.
England achieved their best placement since the 1992 with their third place finish, a great achievement for a country that once dominated Miss World. Kenya won the Miss World Africa for the second time in a row while Korea took home the Miss World Asia title for the first time since 20059 and New Zealand won Miss World Oceania for the first time since 1990.
Other highlights included comeback placements for Nigeria (2012), Argentina (1987), Malta (1969) and Liberia (1999) and first ever placements for El Salvador, Macau, Moldova and Bangladesh.
Miss Universe 2017
Just over 9 months after their last edition, the Miss Universe Organization made sure that Miss Universe was back on calendar year track with the 2017 edition of the competition taking place in safety net venue, Las Vegas. The run-up to the pageant was embarrassing in terms of Miss Universe standards but the final was of superb quality.
South Africa made a huge comeback at Miss Universe when stunning Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters overcame a challenging year (more on this to follow) including an armed hijacking attempt to win her country's second ever (and first since 1978) Miss Universe crown. Nel-Peters will now spend the next year of her life in New York City working for the Miss Universe Organization. Her homecoming is expected to take place in early 2018 as she takes the Mikimoto crown (which we are delighted to see back) to South Africa.
Other highlights of the 2017 edition include a fourth consecutive top 5 placement for Colombia (winner 2014, 1st runner-up in 2015, 2017 and 2nd runner-up in 2016) and an eighth consecutive placement for the Philippines. We were also delighted to see non Miss Universe powerhouses Ireland (2010), Croatia (2012), Great Britain and China (2013) place. Ghana (1999) made a big comeback and it was a great night for Sri Lanka (1955 - competed as Ceylon) who earned their second ever placement at Miss Universe.
Miss Supranational 2017
Perhaps the biggest breakthrough came for one of the world's last remaining superpowers (that compete in pageants), South Korea when they earned their first big beauty title in Poland. Jenny Kim, Miss Korea, was crowned the 9th Miss Supranational on December 1st, a historic win for this country in our Grand Slam system. Kudos to national director, Jenny Park, for standing up against the corruption in her country's pageant industry to start a credible and fair new system, determined to repair pageantry's tarnished image in her country. With a Miss Supranational 2017 and Miss World Asia 2017 under her belt, we hope it will be the start of a revival for pageants in Korea.
It was also a good one for Colombia, Romania and Ethiopia who scored their best ever placements at this pageant as well as first placements for Bolivia, Italy, Jamaica, Serbia, South Sudan and Wales.
The Miss South Africa contest took place in March, 2017 and it was Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters who became the first woman from the Western Cape in 17 years to win the crown. She, of course, went on to win Miss Universe which saw the country getting their second Miss South Africa for the year. First runner-up, Dr. Ade van Heerden, who represented her country at Miss World (Top 10, Beauty With A Purpose award) has since assumed the title and will reign until May 2018 when the 60th Miss South Africa competition will be held.
In an effort to diversify the Miss India contest, Femina (The Times Group) brought in a new selection process for their 2017 contest. Screenings were held in four zones (the north, the east, the west and south) and 29 state winners and one from the capital Delhi made up the final 30. We would like to congratulate the Miss India team led by Natasha Grover for this bold new move to bring Miss India brand to every part of their vast country.
The Miss USA competition continued their efforts to move away from the Trump image of Miss USA with diversity being the buzz word at the pageant again. In the end, it was a back to back victory for the District of Columbia when scientist Kara McCullough took home the crown, proving that organization continues to look for smart, accomplished women to be Miss USA.
2017 was not a great year for the island territory of Puerto Rico, Two devastating hurricanes ravaged the island, forcing Puerto Rico out of Miss World as the national contest was postponed before it was cancelled. (They did manage to compete at other pageants, though!) We do hope that 2018 will be bring better times for the Island of Enchantment.
Will they or won't they - those were the questions on the lips of many as reports emerged that Venezuela might withdraw from some or all international pageants due to the economic crisis and political instability in the country. In the end, they did manage to compete at all the pageants, and the Miss Venezuela Beauty Pageant took place to select delegates for the 2018 pageants, though the pageant had to tighten its belt in terms of scale and production.
History was made in Brazil when Monalysa Alcantara became the first woman from the state of Piaui to take home the Miss Brazil title. It was also the first time that a back to back happened for black women in this country.
The Miss Peru Pageant made a bold move to highlight violence against women in Peru. Stepping onto stage, the girls highlighted horrific statics about what women in the country are going through instead of their vital statistics. It was a planned protest in which the organization tried to make a stand to improve the situation in this country.
Finland's only Miss World so far, Marita Lindahl, who became the 7th Miss World in 1957 passed away in March this year. She was 79.
It was also a sad year for Miss World 1975, Lady Wilnelia Forsyth, whose husband, British entertainer Bruce Forsyth passed away in August at the age of 89 following years of ill health. Forsyth had a longstanding friendship with the Miss World Organisation.
Miss Kyrgyzstan 2013, Zhibek Nukeeva (22), also lost a brave but tough battle against cancer, leaving behind her husband and nearly one year old son.
Sadly, the year 2017 also brought a few controversies that made the industry hit the headlines.
SOUTH AFRICA: Shortly after Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters was crowned Miss South Africa 2017, a group of disgruntled contestants went to the media claiming that Nel-Peters had an unfair advantage and cheated her way to the crown by hiring pageant coach Werner Wessels (who also trained Miss World Rolene Strauss and 3 other Miss South Africas) to advise her. These ridiculous claims educated South Africans about the importance of training in the pageant world and the Miss South Africa Organization made the smart move to appoint Wessels as their official trainer, which probably helped them to secure their second Miss Universe title.
In a country that is still dogged by racial tension at times, Nel-Peters also became embroiled in the "Glove Gate" scandal in which she was pictured wearing surgical gloves holding black children. Despite the Miss SA Organization's explanation that it was to ensure the best hygienic conditions to help feed the children, Nel-Peters was vilified by the media and on Twitter. Interestingly, photos also emerged of Nel-Peters holding the children without gloves but the naysayers chose to ignore this. It's sad that a 21 year old girl who was trying to make a difference was put through this instead of receiving support for the work that she was doing.
TURKEY: Less than a day after being crowned Miss Turkey 2017 and earning the right to compete at Miss World, Itir Esen, had to return her crown following controversial tweets about a failed coup in her country. Not only did she lose her title, but she also now faces up to a year in jail for the tweets she protested had no political connection.
GHANA: Serious allegations against the organizer of Miss Ghana, Inna Patty, emerged in December. Former winners and contestants of this pageant made claims of serious sexual and physical and financial exploitation against Ms. Patty, who has denied these accusations. The government has promised to investigate the matter.
ISRAEL AND IRAQ SELFIE
Iraq's return to the Miss Universe stage also hit the headlines after the pageant when Miss Universe Iraq, Sarah Idan, revealed that she had received death threats for posing for a selfie with Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman, which she caption "Peace and love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel". Idan claimed the death threats against her and her family forced her family to flee Iraq.
AND 2017's SCANDAL OF ALL SCANDALS
The year ended on a somber note for the Miss America Organization as three years worth of e-mails filled with disparaging remarks and comments against former winners from Miss America CEO, Sam Haskell, board members and write working for the pageant came to light. The scandal shook the organization to its core and 49 former winners took a stand and demanded that Haskell stepped down. Haskell and several other bigwigs resigned two days after news about the e-mails went viral around the world. The organization has since called on the former winners to help rebuild the organization but the scandal has done some serious damage to the brand. We will have to wait and see how things pan out for the 97 year old Miss America Pageant.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2018
2017 was a year in which all the major pageants took place in the last 2 months of the year. This is definitely not good for the industry as it makes it hard to follow all the pageants and it is usually the smaller ones that suffer the most. We sincerely hope that there will be a more even spread and that major pageants will not take place so close to one another.
As we at Global Beauties prepare to celebrate our twentieth anniversary in 2018, we remain dedicated to bring you credible and informative news, but also keep the fun element of pageants alive. So expect all the fun contests from the past, interviews with industry professionals, former winners and national directions and also news as it happens. We do not wish to promote a message of hate against any country nor do we think that beauty pageants should be filled with mean or nasty comments. It's time to stand together to keep the beauty in the beauty pageant industry alive and rebuild the world of pageantry together.
Global Beauties would like to wish all our fans, followers and even detractors a very happy and prosperous 2018! Peace and love to all!
Written for Global Beauties by Andre Sleigh