Is Miss Vietnam afraid of the Miss World pageant?

  • September 07, 2013

The refusal of leading Vietnamese Miss World Contestants since 2008 has led people to question their excuses for not competing.

Public skepticism has arisen around the leading Vietnamese candidates for the Miss World Beauty Pageant as a result of the flat out refusal of the leading contenders to participate.

One might think that the mere participation in the most prestigious pageant in the world would be considered an honour for any potential contestant. Surprisingly, however, for the better part of a decade those who were most qualified, and even those who were asked to represent Vietnam for Miss World have consistently turned down the opportunity.

They have given various reasons, but the public has become perplexed, questioning the veracity of the potential contenders" excuses. The question looming in the air is why such an apparent honour is really being turned down so often.

This year Miss Sports 2012, Lai Huong Thao, was selected to compete only after several other candidates didn"t accept requests to enter the pageant.

Miss Sport 2012, Lai Huong Thao, selected to compete at Miss World 2013. Photo by TTVN

Dang Thu Thao, Miss Vietnam 2012 , didn"t enter because, she said, it was not the right time for her to compete in Miss World 2013, as she was not prepared, adding that it conflicted with her other goals and that it would significantly set back her studies in English.

Thu Thao has mainly involved herself in social activities and study in favour of participating in entertainment events or beauty contests.

Miss Vietnam 2012 Dang Thu Thao

However those who have refused the offer for various reasons includes a long list.

Elite Vietnam, franchise holder of "Miss World Vietnam" strongly backed Thuy Dung, winner of Miss Vietnam 2008. Her candidacy was sabotaged by scandal, however, as she was accused of not having graduated high school.

Miss Vietnam 2008 Thuy Dung

Skepticism was only confirmed when Dang Thi Ngoc Han, Miss Vietnam 2010, said she didn"t want to participate in Miss World because she was too busy with the range of programmes surrounding the 1000th year anniversary of the capital. Many thought this to be an empty reason.

Although the director of Elite Vietnam favoured Thuy Dung to represent Vietnam at this year"s Miss World, there were fears from the board surrounding her being a new-comer to the scene. As a result, the company chose to endorse Lai Huong Thao to compete, raising only more controversy among those who would say that she was something of a last resort.

She has been criticised in the Vietnamese media because of her height, 1.70 metres, and as generally being a second-rate contestant - not worthy of representing Vietnam at the event. Even the director of Elite Vietnam admitted that she would have preferred that Dung compete, but she could not be forced into the position.

All of this scandal and rumour surrounding the event, its potential contestants and the many refusals shows a lack of confidence among those most qualified in the country to compete for the title of Miss World. It would seem from the many incidents that the lack of willingness reflects a fear of failure and perhaps a fear of shame before the Vietnamese public.

Miss Vietnam World 2010 Luu Thi Diem Huong

These may not be completely unfounded fears, however. As a matter of fact, Vietnamese competitors have generally not attained much success at international beauty pageants, and have had to return home to face sometimes outright scorn. After Hoang Anh, the runner-up to Miss Vietnam 2012, competed in Miss Universe, she was criticised for not having worn clothing appropriate to represent the country and even for having a "rumpled dress". Others who have gone on the international stage suffered the same fate. Vu Thi Hoang My and Luu Thi Diem Huong were also widely frowned upon after not having taken the title at international contests.

In one sense it seems that there is simply not much in it for Vietnamese beauty queens to even attempt at international contests. If they fail to win they come home, not to fanfare, but to shame. In addition to the risk, they must pay their own expenses. Many must simply weigh the options and come to the conclusion that the slim possibility of winning the contest is small compared to that of incurring losses, both financial and in terms of reputation.


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