Miss Bhutan 2008
The Miss Bhutan 2008 Beauty Pageant this weekend was the first beauty pageant I’ve attended. And it was probably the last.
The evening didn’t get off to a good start, so maybe that’s partly to blame for my dissatisfaction with the whole event.
The contest was due to begin at six p.m. But as we entered the venue shortly before six, things were far from ready.
Stage hands were still rushing around, the lighting didn’t seem to work yet and neither did the sound system.
In the end, we had to wait a whole hour for the show to begin. But of course there was no announcement to explain about the delay or asking the audience for just a little more patience.
Interestingly, no one in the hall seemed to mind.
Maybe the Bhutanese are used to things not starting punctually. Maybe it’s a Western thing to get impatient when people make you wait?
The two presenters were somewhat uncoordinated and clearly suffered from the fact that the event hadn’t been properly rehearsed.
An insider of the beauty pageant told me beforehand that the contestants (“the divas,” as she put it) had preferred to go for a manicure, rather than attending the show’s dress rehearsal.
One of the MC’s then made us fear for the worst when he announced that the contestants would be given ample opportunity to show their personalities in interviews, and not just their pretty faces.
The first round of the contest would have three sub-rounds, he explained. I looked at my watch and knew that this event wouldn’t be over in two hours, as promised.
The interviews of the first sub-round then went something like this:
MC: How are you?
Contestant 1 – 15: Fine but nervous.
MC: That’s good, I’m also nervous. Could you please introduce yourself to the people?
MC: What would you like to share with the audience?
Contestant 1 – 10: I’d like to talk about my mom / parents
Contestant 15: I’d like to talk about the inspiration our King has been for my life.
Out of the 15 contestants, only one had some sort of stage presence (Tsokye Tsomo Karchung, one of the three “Miss Thimphus” in the race).
The other 14 girls were pretty sad to watch, stumbling through the lines they had unsuccessfully tried to learn by heart and standing in awkward poses that someone must have told them would look good.
After this first sub-round, three things were immediately clear for us
a. we had already picked our winner: the Miss Thimphu with the stage presence.
b. this show would go on and on and on, and
c. the idea of a nice dinner and a beer suddenly looked better than all the 15 contestants combined.
So we made a run for it.
Okay – this was the very first Miss Bhutan beauty pageant the country has ever put on. So let’s give them credit for that.
Most of the contestants had never been on a stage before and came from the remote rural provinces of the country. Two of them had even given up their jobs for the chance of becoming Miss Bhutan. So regardless of whether that was a clever decision, it at least shows dedication.
And finally, Asian and Western ideals of female beauty and demeanour may differ. We found it excruciating that most of the contestants spoke so softly that the microphone could hardly pick up what they said. And their shyness on stage made them seem unprofessional and uninteresting to us.
Asians may have seen their shyness and delicacy as typically feminine and appealing.
The day after the contest, we learned that the show lasted a whopping six hours.
In the end, our favourite contestant, 24 year old Tsokey Tsomo Karchung, was crowned Miss Bhutan 2008.