Beauty bacchanal

After so many years of sending candidates to beauty pageants all over the world, why must we have yet another beauty bacchanal?

It is surely not beyond the wit of the Miss Universe TT organising committee and Yvonne Clarke to work out an amicable resolution to this ugliest of disputes. On the one hand, local franchise holder Jennifer Douglas is of the view that a breach of contract has occurred. Her charge is that Clarke has been active on social media and elsewhere, which though it hardly appears to be a serious indictment is, in Douglas’s estimation, a breach of legal duty.

“She is talking and she is not supposed to do that,” boldly declares Douglas. “She is not allowed to make public comments without my permission.” But it is unclear whether the decision to strip Clarke of her title was done after independent legal advice was taken or if Clarke was afforded due process by being allowed to respond to the concerns of Douglas before action by the committee was taken.

On the other hand, Clarke alleges not getting enough assistance from Douglas and having cause to carefully document all communications with the local franchise holder. She sought and received counsel and support from soca singer Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez who only a few days ago used her celebrity status to appeal to the general public to help send Clarke to Las Vegas later this month. Lyons-Alvarez and her husband Bunji Garlin provided substantial logistical and financial support, only for it all to be imperilled due to this abrupt development.

Into this sorry comess the name of Martrecia Alleyne has been called by Douglas as a potential replacement.

Beauty pageants are quaint and controversial things given advancement in women’s rights and the growing distaste for what some regard as a process which simply objectifies its participants, literally putting them on parade. The Miss Universe franchise itself fell from grace in 2015 due to Donald Trump’s controversial campaign statements regarding illegal immigration. The pageant was dropped by US broadcaster NBC and Trump later sold the company.

Yet, these pageants still retain some appeal and have changed over time, arguably becoming more springboards for careers than showcases.

Our queens and candidates have gone on to become national figures and one finds them involved with various endeavours in which they often make a contribution to society. So revered are queens they have had streets named after them as in the case of Wendy Fitzwilliam and, recently, Janelle Commissiong.

It is not ideal for candidates to be made to pay their way to these pageants. These activities involve considerable resources and logistics as well as experience. Given that these individuals, whether they win or lose, are also representing the nation on the international stage, there is a responsibility to ensure the chosen delegate is able to put her best foot forward.

Surely the organisers of these events must be made to give a clear account of what candidates are expected to do. In this instance, it seems clear that the queen was taken aback by the degree of initiative she would need to exercise to seal her passage to Las Vegas. There has to be a clearer understanding of the obligations of all parties to these arrangements. Brouhaha is not good for candidates, franchise holders and the country. At the end of the day these pageants are international events.

We call on all the parties to come to an enduring solution that not only resolves the current impasse but also enhances understanding of duties in the long run. But in order for that to happen, they must first do something very simple: talk to one another.


"Beauty bacchanal"

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