A marine fuels trader, an art director and a social entrepreneur are among the 14 finalists vying for the title of Singapore’s Miss Universe 2012.
Facing the media for the first time on Sunday afternoon at the Shangri-La hotel, the 14 took to the stage to introduce themselves and why they are taking part in the competition.
Whittled down from a field of 100 applicants, this year’s finalists are between 18 to 24 years old.
Marine trader Michelle Qiu, 19, shared with Yahoo! Singapore that she used to be a tomboy before this competition.
“I can’t be a tomboy forever. I wanted to how I could grow and mature. It’s good to be able to develop yourself as a woman in all aspects…and I believe this competition is a great opportunity for me,” said the Raffles Junior College graduate, who added the event was a “good practice for us [contestants] to face the media”.
Social entrepreneur Jody Liu, 22, joined the pageant for a different cause – to use the publicity she gains from the pageant to raise awareness on environmental issues, a topic close to her heart.
“I’ve been studying in Australia for three years, and I noticed how conservation efforts are being carried out there compared to in Singapore. I hope to raise more awareness on the subject,” said the bubbly 22-year old.
Liu is currently working with Public Utilities Board (PUB) to go to schools and conduct talks and workshops to educate students on conserving and monitoring water usage.
But a hot topic of debate was the issue of transgender contestants.
Earlier this year, Canadian Jenna Talackova made world headlines by being the first transgender to take part in the Miss Universe Canada finals. Although she failed to win, her entry after a much publicised media campaign forced Miss Universe organizers to rethink the pageant’s competition rules to allow transgender contestants.
Organisers of the Miss Universe Singapore franchise, Derrol Stepenny Promotions, said they will be receiving specific guidelines from the head office of Miss Universe shortly.
Both contestants Qiu and Liu both expressed their support on the new rule change.
“It would be a good step forward for Singapore,” Qiu said, as the nation becomes “more willing to accept more controversial things” to build a “more open minded and caring society”.
Addressing the issue that cosmetic surgery may create an uneven playing field, Liu said it takes more than just beauty to enter a beauty pageant.
“It takes more than looking pretty. You need courage and intelligence too. So as long as you have the guts to join, why not?” she said.
“Everyone have their own rights. It’s not for me to say. It would be fun though because it would provide a new perspective on how beauty pageants are run, and how the competition would go.”
However, another finalist, Lynn Tan, thinks otherwise.
The 24-year old associate with Deloitte said, “I think a beauty pageant is a celebration of a woman’s natural beauty… You need quality in addition to looks (like attitude). Furthermore, I believe that when transgenders take part in a beauty pageant, and if people are able to manufacture their beauty by means of hormones or artificial substitution, it devalues the (inherent) uniqueness of women.”
On whether Singapore’s organizing committee would expect transgender women to apply next year, a DSP spokesperson told Yahoo! Singapore, “I don’t know if there’ll be any in Singapore who’re interested to be participating. It would be interesting to see. As we’re still waiting on the specifics of the guidelines, I would assume they [transgender women] would still have to go through the normal strict selection process that we have.”