Home Miss World Malaysia 2009: The good, the bad and the ugly

I joined the Miss Malaysia Universe 2008 pageant to try my luck, and also because many people persuaded me to do so. Back then, I was an ordinary 23 year old who knew almost nothing about make-up or how to pose for cameras. I didn’t know what I was doing and what I was supposed to do in that pageant. For the pageant duration of 10 days, I brought 2 pairs of heels, a pair of sports shoes and flip flops. While other contestants packed huge suitcases (as though they were staying there for 2 months), I brought along one medium-sized suitcase.

Rehearsals were hell and I couldn’t keep up. I broke a pair of heels when I nearly fell backstage, and the other one I had was not suitable for the gown I was supposed to wear. Luckily, Soo Wincci was there to help me – she gave me her spare eye-liner, lent me a pair of black heels and taught me how to apply make-up. I left the Miss Malaysia Universe pageant wiser, more confident and touched, by Wincci’s friendliness and generosity.

15 out of 18 pairs of shoes I brought

The Miss World Malaysia 2009 pageant was my chance to give it my very best, and to see what came out of it. I checked into the hotel with a medium-sized suitcase with 18 pairs of shoes, a big suitcase full of my best clothes, a hanger bag with 7 cocktail dresses and a fairly large make-up box. All for the duration of 5 days. I won’t lie to you; I wanted to win, I hoped to win and I worked hard to win.

The good:

Throughout my 5 days there, I experienced and learnt a lot of things about myself and the other girls – good, bad and ugly. For those who are interested in joining pageants, this might help you deal better with pageant life. Trust me, it ain’t easy. I’ll start with the good parts first. We were given a make-up workshop by Definite Cosmetics on the first night. Sheng Saw, the professional make-up artist was very helpful in giving us make-up tips. In fact, I owe it to him for making me look so pretty throughout the photo shoots and on the final day. I have sharp and high cheekbones, so when I smile widely, my eyes tend to look smaller. Sheng noticed that, and made sure all the make-up artists did my eyes properly. He always came to check on my eye make-up, and consistently did touch-ups on the area.We were lucky to have modelling guru, Cilla Foong to teach us how to catwalk. Many of the girls were models or had modelling experience, so they didn’t look like they needed the catwalk session. I sure as hell did. I’ve never modelled before, so I wasn’t sure how to walk and pose appropriately.

Picture Credit: Gabrielle Boudville

Cilla taught me pretty well, and I managed to walk gracefully (I think) on the final night. Josiah told me my first catwalk was awful – I walked like a gangster, he thought I was going to rap on the stage. ROFL!
I was very happy with my evening gown and swimwear. Pei Yee made sure all my outfits complimented my skin tone and made me look well-endowed. The hairstylists from Salon Esprit were also very helpful. They did a great job in clipping on my hair extensions (my own) and giving me soft, sexy curls that framed my face nicely. My hair was constantly touched up for more volume and I thought it looked great on the final night.

Charity Work

If you love doing charity, you can start jumping for joy. The contestants will be required to visit one or two charity places and try to make the children happy even though it is just a short period of time. Note: NEVER EVER show or say you dislike children – you will be digging your own grave. This is the time your personality and niceness comes through. It also shows how genuine you are as a person. I’ve seen some girls fake it and show their niceness only when the cameras were rolling. Please do not do such a thing – it is mean and downright insulting to the children, the organization and the pageant.

The bad:

If you want to join a beauty pageant, you will need to observe a few golden rules and prepare yourself for a few things. Don’t expect to get 8 hours of beauty sleep; count your blessings if you can get 4-5 hours of sleep. I was up at 6.30am every morning, and I only went to bed around 2-3am. Breakfast starts at 7.30am and you will have rehearsals and activities until late at night. Unlike home, you don’t get to come down for breakfast in your baggy T-shirt, messy hair and un-brushed teeth. 7.30am means being at the meeting point by 7.20am in your best attire, full make-up and perfect hair. You will be judged for presentation (grooming, attire, hair and make-up). Don’t be late, EVER. If you cannot be punctual, then you are not fit to be a beauty queen.NEVER eat like there’s no tomorrow – this is a beauty pageant, not an “all you can eat” competition. Stuffing your face will make people question your credibility as a beauty queen. However, do not starve yourself as you will have a long day ahead. Eat lightly, and healthily. Go for wholemeal toasts (and easy on the butter please), cereals (skip the coco crunch and get yourself some muesli) and fruits. I had plenty of cereal bars, and always made sure I had a light breakfast. For lunch and dinner, eat a little bit more, but never pile your plate high. You never know when you will be asked to put on your bikini or wear a super tight dress. To be honest, I was constantly hungry. Good thing there was no internet access; I would have died looking at all the food blogs.

Unless you’re 5 ft 10 and above, WEAR YOUR HIGH HEELS. I wore 5-inch heels from 7.30am till 1am everyday (except during the gym session), and at the end of each day, I couldn’t feel my toes. By the end of the pageant, I had 4-5 blisters on each foot. So keep plasters with you at all times. Also, you might want to schedule an appointment for a foot massage after the pageant. Remember to cut out your bad habits – it is not elegant for a beauty queen to twitch her nose, pull out her wedgie or scratch her head especially when there are cameras and video cameras following your every move. I was told I move my head too much (I can be quite animated), so I had to quickly stop that habit. Throughout the pageant week, you will be tired and your skin will look dull – bring face masks, eye masks, eye ampoules and face ampoules to hydrate your skin. That way, your make-up will stay on longer and you will look fresh at all times. Do not forget to condition your hair every day. All the styling and curling will make it dry and frizzy.

Judges are EVERYWHERE. The ones you least expect to be a judge will be one of them. So it is important to be nice to everyone, including the room service people / bellboys. They may not be the judge, but by being nice and polite to them, it will reflect on your character, or lack of. The last thing you need is a negative label such as “stuck-up”, “full of yourself” or worst, “B**CH”.

The ugly:

During the pageant, there were a few things I was not happy about. Some may agree and some may disagree, but bottom line is, these are MY OPINIONS and this is MY BLOG. Some girls got way too much airtime, and a few girls didn’t get enough airtime at all. For me, I was very happy with my amount of airtime – I got a fair coverage in almost every video. Some of the girls were barely in the video, so how is the public going to get to know them and judge them personally? You simply cannot judge a girl based on one or two pictures. This is why the airtime is important – you get to show people how bubbly/gorgeous/interesting/pleasant you really are. I thought few girls had potential, but because they were not given much airtime, they lost out.

Based on just their online photos, some girls were heavily criticized in blogs and forums. One girl is a veteran in beauty pageants and I’ve always admired her poise and elegance. I reckon she got the least air-time, and no one knew her true potential. From the videos, it was easy to tell who the videographer liked. I won’t say who, but go see it for yourself.

I’m definitely hiring this videographer when I get married, as he really really knows how to focus on a person. That way, I can be sure I will always be at the centre of attention on my wedding day. Check out the videos below to see for yourself what I am talking about. I only went through these two videos carefully – I’m not going to thoroughly go through the rest, as I have better things to do. If you want to see more, go look at all the videos HERE.

Charity work (Time frame) : 1:59 – 2:08, 2:23 – 2:27, 2:29 – 2:31, 2:57 – 3:14

Rhythm & Groove (Time frame) : 3:16 – 3:23, 4:33 – 4:44, 4:48 – 4:51, 5:23 – 5:29, 6:19 – 6:51, 9:46 – 9:54

The organisers/mentors shouldn’t have named their favourites on video camera. It reflects on them badly – and they will come off looking and sounding unprofessional. I thought comments from Josiah and Ian were fair (they didn’t want to name any favourites throughout the whole pageant). When the organisers name their favourite(s), the public would automatically favour the girl(s), which would then contradict their claims about beauty pageants being fair. Each girl should be treated equally – from airtime to constructive comments and to guidance in excelling in the pageant.

I was closest to Yuh Wen & Priscilla

If you are one of those girls who wants to enter a beauty pageant hoping to make plenty of friends, sorry to burst your bubble – it ain’t gonna happen. THIS IS A BEAUTY PAGEANT. Not a Miss Friendship of Friends Forever competition. Everyone who joins a pageant wants to win, some much more than the others. When you put so many beautiful girls together, you are bound to have cat fights, dramas and back-stabbing. This is the reality. If you are lucky, you will leave the pageant with one or two good friends. Often, you get the casual hi-bye friends who won’t remember your name in just a few weeks.

And yes, cattiness is bound to happen. There will be girls who will attempt to mess with your confidence, emotions and thoughts. You need to be very strong and sure of yourself not to let these comments tear you down. One of the lines I got (last year) was, “Nice bikini. It looks good on you. But why are your boobs one big one small?” That was a classic example of girls trying to mess with your head, and I got that comment right before I walked into the pre-judging room last year.

This year, I was a lot more confident and very focused, so none of the girls tried to mess with my head. If they did, I was so focused I didn’t realise it. You might get comments like, “You should join Miss Petite” (indicating that you’re short), “That red dress looks gorgeous, but it seems to make you look fat!”, “Oh my, what skinny/chunky legs you have” or even “I heard so and so claimed you got your nose and boobs fixed…did you?”.

There are 3 ways to handle it, or more like I know of 3 ways to handle it. You can either:

1) Bawl your eyes out,
2) Counter their snide remarks (if you’re smart and just as sarcastic), or
3) Treat it as sound pollution, let it go in one ear, and go out the other (I do this the most).

I prefer to ignore the nasty comments and pass of as the bigger person than to return the snide remark and look just as bad. Try not to cry in front of the “bully”. It will make her feel more powerful against you. And don’t attempt to claw her face or scratch her eye balls out (however tempting that thought may be) – you will look bad, she won’t.

More tips:

Picture Credit: Tham Hoi Mun

Picture credit: Calven Lim

If you are nervous before going up on stage, keep yourself calm by practicing deep breathing and make sure you drink enough water. There will be many photographers snapping away as you hit the stage, and it will be difficult to maintain eye contact with each and every one of them in the time frame of 5 seconds. I usually stare into the light. That way, it will look as though you are looking at the camera, the judges and the audience. Always make sure you smile, BIG. Smile wide and stand tall. It is your moment to shine, so make full use of it. If your jaw gets tired, think of something funny, and laugh while smiling. It will help make your smile look more natural.

In some pageants, the questions will be provided a day or two before the final day – this is to prevent some girls from making a complete fool of themselves on stage. It is important to NEVER sound too rehearsed. The judges and the audience want to see your real personality, communication skills and intellect. Not some pretty face who sounds like a mechanical robot or a complete airhead. It helps to be somewhat intelligent during the pageant, but that alone won’t guarantee you a spot in the top 8. You have to possess a whole package – poise, beauty, confidence, elegance, good PR skills and intellect. Sometimes, intellect is not as important (which REALLY annoys me)when you have a really pretty face and a super hot body, your lack of intellect is usually overlooked. It sucks, but these things happen.Chaperons are people who will take care of you during your stay in the pageant. Treat them well, as they are the “eyes” of the judges. In my case, I got along pretty well with my chaperons, Hazel and Nisha – I don’t think I annoyed them throughout the pageant week. Chaperons can be very strict, but they only mean well. They are there to bring out the best in you, so don’t take it too personally when they criticize you. However, there are cases where chaperons have their favourites, which sucks if you are not one of their favourites. I didn’t think this was the case in the Miss World Malaysia 2009 pageant, but it happened during the Miss Malaysia Universe 2008 pageant.I’m not going to deny the fact that I was disappointed I didn’t win. Afterall, I did join the pageant in hopes of winning the title. Despite how calm and composed I am about not winning, it does hurt – I am human. Especially after the effort and hard work I put in – rif, Shum, Jeen and Tgin can confirm that. Don’t get me wrong (and don’t throw darts at me), I am very happy Thanuja won. She’s a lovely girl who is beautiful, intelligent and has a great personality. And I’m sure she will make our country proud in South Africa.But winning isn’t everything. Just because you don’t win a pageant, doesn’t mean you are any less beautiful, talented or intelligent than the girl who won. Everyone is beautiful and talented in their own way; never compare yourself to others. If you keep comparing with others, it will be your downfall. A pageant does not determine who you are or what you are worth as a person. It helps you build your confidence, learn about poise and better yourself as a person.

So what if you don’t win? Fine, be sad and morbid (if you want) for a week or so, then snap out of it and move on with life. There are many other great things to learn and much more about yourself to discover. You cannot consider yourself a winner if you have never encountered failures at least once or twice in your life. I am someone who has always “won” in life, especially in the academics department. “Losing” this time around does not make me less of a person (although it does hurt) – it only makes me stronger and prepares me for my next “win” in life.

My biggest supporter

After the Miss World Malaysia 2009 pageant, I realised I’m stronger and more capable than I give myself credit for. Through sheer hard work, determination and faith in myself, I finally possess all the qualities needed to be a good beauty queen. And I consider this to be an accomplishment for someone who never knew she had what it takes to be a beauty queen and has never been in a beauty pageant until she was 23.