Of Beauty Pageants and Diversity

Drama never seems to run short in busy Singapore, be it small matters blown to big proportions or major drama with big names. One particular drama that has gone singapore-viral stems from a popular local blog that reposted a picture from a photographer. Many may already know just from that what is being referenced here, but for the sake of those not in the know, the topic on hand is the Miss Singapore Beauty Pageant post that has been circulating social media like wildfire.


The post featured a photo of the Miss Singapore Beauty Pageant, a group of girls looking rather far from the ideal beauty pageant line-up that many have been conditioned to expect from such a competition. Posted by photographer Joseph Juban, the post has since been taken down following the barrage of nasty comments criticising the looks of the girls. From the lack of makeup to having more meat on bones than your standard beauty pageant contestant commenters were relentless in their criticism. Unfortunately or fortunately, however you see it, the post had already been reposted by a rather popular local blog and quickly went viral gaining notoriety. Official statement from the organisers claim that the image was “unofficial” and taken from a showcase at OneKM mall before the girl had their makeovers done.

Of Beauty Pageants and Diversity
Photo: Joseph Juban

Regardless an alarming majority seems to have become keyboard warriors who have been leaving scathing and “savage” comments about the participants. A small minority praises these girls for “having the courage to pursue a beauty pageant dream” including the official Miss Singapore Beauty Pageant Facebook group. It seems they may not have understood when shade is being thrown. Some insightful few comments have brought up a rather important point that many have missed: How are these girls being picked?


No the point here is not how aesthetically pleasing the girls may or may not look but rather the obvious lack of diversity in the image of the beauty pageant finalists. The entire line up seems to feature only chinese girls, where are the minorities many have asked. According to the organisers, they received 60 applicants and the finalists were drawn from that group. So was it a case of the programme lacking in applicants from the minority groups or something else? A few comment threads on the post debate this topic with some taking the stance that perhaps not many of the minorities bothered to send in an application. Certainly a plausible scenario seeing as there is Miss Vassantham for the Indians and Ratu for the malay community. However considering that this is a beauty pageant aimed for all of sinagpore and not a racial group it does seem odd that there is such a lack in diversity. Regardless of your opinion it’s certainly a thought to chew on if you care to take a gander at some of the racial-based comments about minorities left on the infamous post, micro-racism anyone?

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