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So, there’s a product called Summer’s Eve. It’s for destinking your stinkbox, of course. Because our vaginas are creepy and gross and unnatural, y’know. And in order to sell this product, Summer’s
Eve thought it would be a good idea to take on some race issues as well. Oh yes folks, black and white and latina talking hand vaginas! Seriously, who thought that was a good idea?
But what of teh menz? They’re going to feel left out, right? Not if Stephen Colbert can help it!
Recently the Miss Universe New Zealand pageant was held in Wellington, and I wrote about it rather snarkily on the Wellingtonista. I got to talking to one of the judges, Jack Yan from Lucire at Hooch last week, where he was working the room as only a mayoral candidate would do. I thought that regardless of how I personally feel about “beauty” pageants, it would be interesting to hear an insider’s perspective. Jack has very kindly provided us with this piece. Enjoy!
Ria van Dyke was crowned Miss Universe New Zealand 2010 at the Duxton Hotel on June 5. It was a very Wellington event: classy, with a great, supportive crowd, and even a nice, fine June day to boot.
Wellington hasn’t had a Miss Universe New Zealand pageant for some 20 years, and in typical capital fashion, we were marvellous hosts. Not only did the Duxton come to the party, the Museum Hotel hosted the girls and two of the judges, and the Bolton Hotel helped with inner-city car parking. Farmers Lambton Quay played host to an afternoon where the contestants had a chance to work in the beauty department. Mish Mosh on Courtenay Place gave the contestants a chance to chill out the night before the interviews. Johnsonville Shopping Centre and Kilmarnock Home in Berhampore gave everyone extra opportunities to contact members of the public. Finally, the contestants literally stopped Parliament during one of their tours as they stepped in to the gallery.
This was the most cooperative, professional and flash Miss Universe New Zealand I’ve ever judged—and I now have four of these events under my belt. That’s not counting some of the work I’ve done for Miss Sweden over the years. It’s not inter-city rivalry talking. Somehow, Wellington just inspired more decency. There were no girls in cliques. Those who might have done what I call ‘the Auckland pageant circuit’ were far away from any folks who could have egged on any nastiness. Even the Wellington media—Matt McLean and Corinne Ambler from TVNZ, and Laura McQuillan from NZPA (We love Laura! She is our precious sparklepony! – Jo) —reported fairly without having any agenda. The radio stations—including the Breeze, X105 and Wellington-owned Groove 107·7 FM—interviewed various contestants.
Nightline attempted to critique the pageant on cultural diversity grounds, though the reality is that the national finals have no control over who is sent to us during the heats. I think having one Indian out of thirteen is roughly the proportion we have in New Zealand, while many contestants were melting pots that one would expect to see: Filipino, Chinese, Maori and Croat origins were present alongside the usual occidental ones of Portuguese, Spanish, French, Swiss and Anglo–Saxon.
Post-pageant, there were next to no sarky comments on the beauty blogs (We’re a bit slow – Jo). People liked Ria—and for once we didn’t have all the BS about the pageant being ‘rigged’ by its director. I know there are aspects of pageants that are anachronistic, stemming from the ideas of objectification. Or the media’s obsession with thin. They are both valid criticisms, each capable of occupying entire doctoral theses. However, I still maintain that any young woman can win, if she displays the sort of confidence Ria did, both on the final night and an earlier evening. Then, she had to be interviewed by the five-strong judging panel in an Apprentice-style setting inside the Museum Hotel. Thanks to the more intellectual approach of the judges, there are pluses to this—namely the confidence the contestants gain. I’ve seen some go from nervous post-teens to confident young women.
I’m barred from discussing the judging in detail—sadly, I don’t make the rules on this one—but I can say that Ria impressed us strongly in the private interview session, where yours truly is said to be the ‘Simon Cowell’ of the pageant. I take exception to this description, as I have had no Botox. This year, I was joined again by Evana Patterson, an Auckland-based model scout who was, in fact, born here. She’s been with the pageant world for some time, so being my mayoral opponent’s niece is a coincidence. Carl Manderson of Salute in Lower Hutt and Samantha Hannah, stylist, joined us. Certainly not least, pageant veteran Dina Janse von Rensburg flew in from Auckland to round off the quintet.
My own interest is being on a judging panel to find the smartest, most capable young woman to represent New Zealand. Each year, I believe we’ve succeeded. Some cynics might say that I should turn a blind eye to pageants if I agree that they are based around a narrow definition of attractiveness, but I’d rather be in there to get us the brains to go with the beauty—inner and outer—than base this competition on looks exclusively. In fact, one former Miss New Zealand told me that many of her overseas competitors were, indeed, bimboes. That’s not the way I want Aotearoa to be seen. And bimbo is not a label that could ever be levelled at Ria—or, for that matter, Miss Wellington Regan Hillyer, studying for her M.Arch. at Vic, or Nafeesa Moses, who already has her MA. Ria’s own master’s area is on women’s studies in sociology, so if anyone’s aware of the relevance (or irrelevance) of pageantry in the modern world, it’s her. Love or hate pageants, they’re here and they’re experiencing a renaissance. And I believe we found the best winner in years who will do well in representing New Zealand at Miss Universe in Las Vegas, Nevada, in August.
We know a lot of people who are competing in the 48 Hour Film Challenge shortly. Woo, glory, fun, games, etc. But Behind The Scenes have a different kind of film challenge going on. They’re asking people age 17-24 to make videos that promote healthy relationships instead of violent ones.
Make a video clip for YouTube promoting respectful boyfriend/girlfriend relationships and win a prize – $2000.00 first prize, $1000.00 second prize.
We encourage young men as well as young women to have a go at busting the myths about this violence
Although this project is about boyfriend violence towards girlfriends, many men have respectful and loving relationships.
Women have come a long way but some men still use violence towards women in relationships. Domestic violence has been dragged out of the closet. This is an opportunity to drag boyfriend violence out in the open! We want all young people to have a go at challenging this culture by promoting respectful relationships.
For more information, check out their site, or Are you okay? for help.
When I went to Samoa, I was going to write a post about how much fun it was to depilitate my thighs, how satisfying it was to see the huge big clumps of hair washing down the drain, and how great it was that the three-minute-shower-cream that I was using didn’t make my legs smell like roast chicken the way creams in 1996 used to. But I didn’t get around to it, and now there’s no way I’m going to. The reason? Veet Wax’s TV ads that say that waxing makes you more feminine. I’m sorry, but what? WHAT? Get stuffed, how dare you tell me what’s feminine and what’s not? And their slogan “what beauty feels like” – oh silly me, there I was thinking that beauty had to do with feeling good, rather than worrying that you’re not hairless enough to wear what you feel like wearing.
I’m not going to stop shaving my legs (to the knee), but I’m not going to apologise for the parts of me that are hairy either. If you enjoy waxing your legs, by all means, keep waxing your legs (I went through a stage of waxing my toes purely because the pain made me feel), but please, don’t ever think that it’s okay for advertising to play on women’s insecurities about not being feminine enough.
1. Zebrano, home to designer clothes for the curvy lady is having a sale. Pretty much every garment in-store (well, at least in their Johnson Street branch anyway) is reduced, often up to 50%, and arranged in size order for easy shopping. While I’m at it, how do you feel about the term “curvy lady”? I personally don’t like the word ‘lady’ very much so I’m not entirely sure why I’m using it. I ask partially because when Martha wrote about us, she said she doesn’t like the word ‘girly’. How about ‘girlie’ with an ie? But yes, I favour ‘curvy’ over ‘plus-size’, because it celebrates my lovely lovely breasts while we’re at it.
2. If you’re still not reading Jezebel yet, maybe you could start with this post on Badvertising, which demonstrates all the reasons that I pretty much hate magazine advertising (and most magazine copy, for that reason). As a sample, in response to a
Dove campaign for “It’s time we girls cooled off more and freaked out less”, Jezebel writes:
“You know what else makes me freak out? When someone suggests that “we girls” should freak out less. We make less money than men, are expected to be thin and hairless and we have the crampy bleeds every 26 days. A body wash solves nothing. Fuck off.”
And to continue my wordy-thoughts, I pretty much HATE advertising that pretends that the product is “one of us”. I don’t think that the Dove ad was written by someone who has anything in common with me, so they can take their over-familiarisation and shove it.
3. I know we’ve mentioned it before, but Amy and I worked on the giftboxes for our party (which starts at 4pm this Saturday in Newtown, tell your friends!) last night, and man, they are pretty damn awesome if I do say so myself. We’ve also got some foot spas for soaking your tootsies in, the signature cocktail has been designed, and there are piles and piles of clothes for the swap, and all kinds of tasty goodness and decorations have been purchased. We think that you will enjoy yourselves. For those of you who can’t make it because you’re not in Wellington, there will be some giftboxes to be won at a later date. We have many many cunning plans taking shape.
As a fat chick who likes to wear nice clothes suitable for her age that make her feel sexy instead of dressing like a frumpy grandma, I am all about ordering from Torrid, especially when they’re having a 50% off clearance sale as they are right now (I got a pair of velour track pants (I know, I am so OC housewife, but they look coooomfy), a smocked pink hoodie, a pair of flats with dangling skulls, a short-sleeved jacket, a pair of awesome lime green panties and the cutest denim halterneck dress ever for just $80 US + $43 for shipping), but another reason why I’m giving them mad love today is because I saw that they’re selling Team Barack and Team McCain necklaces. Why do I like it so much? Because anti-women’s-rights old McCain comes in second-place silver, while Barack gets the gold. Huzzah!