My Hospital Intiative and being in Miss Earth Canada

Here is my Miss Earth specific blog The official site for Miss Earth Canada is

Check out the Borama Fistula Hospital, Amoud University Medical School and the nursing programme at Borama General Hospital @ : why I am started this!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Why am I doing this? The Pageant Manifesto

Why am I in Miss Earth Canada? People ask me, isn't one pageant enough, all that hard work preparing? Why a second time. I wish I could say vanity, lol, but that is rarely the reason anyone I know ever spent that much effort at a pageant.

I tried modeling out of curiosity after I was in Miss Universe. I met many ethical photographers, a couple ethical agencies, there are good people out there... but the problem is that the bad are just allowed to do bad and flourish being horrible. I saw many terrible things. It is the industry of young women's dreams but also asymmetric power and no regulation. Average age and gender of models are female, 14-19, photographers male 45-68. Zero regulation and people get mad when you even bring up safety in the industry. I saw photographers with criminal records work with 14 year old models. I saw a photographer I shot with being violent, nothing being done about it, and he rapes a model the next year.

Kathy Ireland spoke out on CNN that when she was a teen model, she had an assignment in Europe, and saw a pimp in her hotel room, and to her shock he was sent by her agency. She left modeling for success in business. On my modeling profile I state that I do not shoot nude very clearly not even bikini, but I still have photographers try to pressure me to shoot nude even though they know I'll lose my livelihood, my reputation and will be kicked out of the pageant if I do so. I have received a lot of bullying on model mayhem when I say that when a model shoots alone with a photographer she doesn't know, she should bring an escort. Many university now have policies against student and professor intimate relations, which prevents unwanted sex as means of advancement instead of one's merit. The same with pageants.

For not shooting nude, one photographer who was an administrator a modeling pool I was a part of that directs models to castings angrily said I was a "restrictive model" and I wasn't ready for the fashion world because I wasn't ready to take clothes off, and is why he wouldn't even do a fashion shoot with me. I said, "Despite my race and ethnicity and values I did have a job selling evening gowns, I managed to sell them and there were many successful sales women of women's gowns of my ethnicity and religious values too. I don't need to be nude to sell a dress to women!"

In contrast, the problems at pageants seem trivial. We have escorts/chaperones when we go as a group because yes, a group of healthy looking young women can cause problems. Playgrounds can attract children, but also those who want to hurt them, which is one reason playgrounds are chaperoned. Last year, when I was at Miss Universe Canada, we heard that at a different pageant either drivers or a sponsor gave unwanted gestures to young women. Andrew Lopez, the PR director gave us a lecture before we headed to events, "If you feel uncomfortable for any reason at an event like you will be attending this evening for any reason whatsoever, we urge you to go to the bouncer and ask him to kick the guy out." They didn't tolerate anyone making the young women uncomfortable, had a policy of zero tolerance against unwanted advances and took all precautions.

I see the same with Miss Earth Canada, and most pageants have a policy to deal with unwanted advances and protect the young women from harm. There is NO ONE with a criminal record. There is a Miss Congeniality award to prevent infighting between the girls, and young women are selected based on their ability to compete with dignity and good-sportsmanship (i.e. the initial interview process works to remove catty young women).

Recently, regarding acting, there was an article that a former Canadian beauty contestant was suing a Los Angelos acting agency for harassment and for grooming women not for acting jobs but for unwanted advances. In pageants, like universities, there is a policy against such behavior. Why?

Two reasons - one that the big four pageants have been there since 1951- 1999. They depend on a good reputation and the organizations are easy targets if there are lawsuits, while their reputation can be destroyed and the visibility of their brand is very high. The other reason is economics: pageants, you are a paying customer, so they will ensure you are treated with professionalism, dignity and respect. The pageant organizers treat the young women with the same dignity and professionalism

Swimsuits - if feminists criticize that - well they are voluntary and I was offered to completely cover mine up, and I partially cover it up in respect of my colleagues competing, and the purpose is to make you go to the gym and it works! When they pick up a fashion magazine, behind the slick images, are young girls constantly pressured to pose nude. In Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump's daughter's biography, she writes reasons why she left the modeling agency her father created. Despite who she was, at events in the evening, models were expected to socialize with the firm's clients many of whom were in the firms client's bedrooms in the morning. She didn't want to be in an industry where one had to do that to get ahead, and is successful in real-estate. There is no regulation in the fashion industry.

Also, in many fashion agencies I witnessed size 00 girls told they are fat, backstage by the modeling agencies and that they won't get jobs because they are too fat and I see the ribs sticking out on these famine victims. I asked organizers why do they pick these children to the shows, who have to bring their parents who are told they are too thin. The organizer, a friend, said, "When you have a fashion show the light that highlights the fabric makes everyone look much heavier, so you need very thin girls." I have a genius solution that the fashion industry is unlikely to take up on : theatre lighting. On stage, in theatre, ballet, there are several points of light to correct for the weight imbalance shining too much light on a person in one direction. This is especially important in Opera, lol, and done at pageants. However, models are not taken into consideration. If they just want hangers, don't use living and breathing human beings and try to dehumanize them.

I really enjoyed a Lady Gaga-esque artistic effect done beautifully on a model and mentioned to a fashion industry member how it would be interesting to try that look. They recommended against for a shocking reason. "Your portfolio is to highlight you as a person, a human being people want to work with. When you go on runway, the reason why we sculpt these crazy looks is to dehumanize the model, so that she loses any identity and you see not the model but the clothes." When I asked, why are model so thin "they are human clothes hangers."

I doubt that the demographic of high fashion buyers, moms 40-60, enjoy being sold dresses by dehumanized children aged 14-19 the age of their children. They would prefer a happy, healthy, wholesome beautiful young woman, which is why vintage advertising is back with a vengeance.

My experience with pageants has been very positive. I have been treated like gold by Miss Universe Canada, and Miss Earth Canada, while they accepted me and I was candidate. Yes, it wasn't Disney, there were some minor inconveniences I saw like one girl making life more difficult her fellow contestants to get ahead at any cost(it was nipped in the bud, stopped immediately when the organizers discovered it). Pageants try their best to create an artificially positive environment where good collegial girls are selected together doing a fun positive activity that builds their self confidence, gives them opportunity, is good for the community and allows them to be a role model.

I think feminists barked very loudly, but up the wrong tree. I am a HUGE supporter of specifically the swimsuit portion of pageants because they forced me to get my lazy butt to the gym. I'll pay what it costs to join a programme that managed to make even me go to the gym! Now I'm addicted. They allow girls to cover. Last year, a Muslim Canadian, Pauline Ranjbar, covered her bikini at Miss Earth Canada and was one of the finalists, won best evening gown, and has been sent to pageants by the organization internationally. I am glad they allow everyone to participate and you meet women of all ethnicities and backgrounds across Canada.

I support pageants because they changed my self-esteem and I feel more confident in myself, where my qualities as a human being are highlighted in everything from my dress to the questions at the interviews, and my health is highly valued by organizers who give low grades to unhealthy contestants who are too skinny or avoid the gym. If one has a teenage daughter who is finding her way and lacks self-esteem, pageants are a great way to develop it and make positive friends.

Modeling is a private business, there are no rules, no regulation, but with the power asymmetry that exists combined with lack of regulation - its ripe for exploitation. The widespread dehumanization of young women is shocking to me in that industry, because my grandfather, who fought the Nazis all the way to Berlin in World War II said, "When you are in the trenches and can see the eyes of a human being, and see they are human, it's impossible to shoot. Even if you try, your instincts will make you flinch and your bullet will not hit the human being that is your enemy on the other side. In order to kill, dehumanization is necessary, which is why propaganda plays a central role in war. You need to dehumanize first before you kill."

Valentino said he knew what women want, "They want to be beautiful." This is true because there is a strong link between beautiful and loved for women, biologically. It builds up self confidence significantly. Just because young women need confidence and have dreams of being beautiful as a way of somehow attaining that confidence doesn't mean mean we have a right to exploit the dreams of teenagers and vulnerable youth for dehumanization, which is the first step to killing and violence. One of my favorite books, "War, a force that gives us meaning" talks at length on dehumanization, and images hyper-sexualization in society and how these two were a pre-requisite for Milosovich to start the horrible war in Yugoslavia where hundreds were killed brutally.

After reading Chris Hedge's War a Force that Gives us Meaning,I feel ambivalence when picking up a women's magazine. Picking up almost any mainstream fashion magazine makes me think of Milosovich - the connection is obvious. But the images seduce me into wanting to be attractive like the dehumanized "woman" in the picture. I admit it, as sad as it is. I am adult enough to understand it is unhealthy and I use art and cinema as inspiration for my shoots far more than fashion, because there women are a subject an not an object.

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