The United Nations International Pageant, which commences later this month in Jamaica, has been around for 18 years and I’ve never heard of it. Yet, annually, it is held in some of the most exotic places, and includes men as contestants. But, like most beauty pageants, it originally was for women exclusively.
Now there are contests for all levels of females: Miss, Ms., Mrs. and–wait for it . . . Elite (for women who’ve reached the ripe old age of 50, because we all know women 50+ are an endangered species) and men–Mr. United Nations International, Mr Elite U.N. International.
Also, they have some pretty strict rules. For example Mrs. United Nations must be married to “a naturally born genetic male.” That leaves out all the women married to naturally born genetic females who’ve undergone sex change operations. Not very inclusive of the pageant, eh?
And yet, the pageant doesn’t even follow the simplest request. The real United Nations has sent them an order to cease and desist from using the U.N. name and logo, as well as other U.N.-esque type representation. But, no, the pageant continues, leaving the U.N. with only wishful thinking.
Here’s the semi-official background from Wikipedia:
The United Nations Pageants are a series of annual beauty pageants. In spite of the name, it is not associated with or organized by the United Nations. It is run by L. N. Williams, its Co-Founder/President and owner of World Beauty Pageant Association.
The first event was held in the United States in 1996. The pageant began with the idea of having women from all walks of life dedicate their time to charity. It now includes six pageants: Elite United Nations International (ages 50 and up); Mrs. United Nations International (ages 21–49); Ms. United Nations International (ages 30–49); Miss United Nations International (ages 18–29); Teen Miss United Nations International (ages 13–17); and Mr. United Nations International.
And now for the article from last year that raised awareness of this U.N. thunder robbing pageant, approrpriately titled, “Beauty Pageant Keeps Stealing the U.N.’s Style” from Women’s E-news.com. [If only there were a powerful international organization with the hoozpa to keep this type of brazen impersonation from happening. Note to self: make one such org.]
Despite the pageant’s name and special prep, however, the United Nations is not actually connected to the event. In fact, the United Nations wishes the marketing company that runs the event would stop using the U.N. name and emblem.
“We’ve asked them to cease and desist,” U.N. spokesperson Farhan Haq told Women’s eNews in a terse e-mail response.
Six Categories of Contestant
But the event continues for its third year, with contestants competing in six categories for men, women and teens.
A Miss Teen United Nation contestant must be between 13 and 19 and single. A Mrs. United Nation must be over the age of 21 and married to a naturally born genetic male, as the pageant’s site describes. And Mr. United Nation must be over 19, but may be married, divorced or single.
Contestants, ranging in age from 16 to mid-40s [WTH happened to the 50+ group?], will be judged on beauty and fitness and will don different outfits: business attire, fashion wear, athletic wear and national traditional dress. Although the pageant eschews the swimsuit contest, Morgart says physical appearance is weighed heavily [that’s weird, what does physical appearance have to do with beauty?].
The contestants are also judged on their interactions with other delegates [that’s what the kids are calling it these days] and with the general public, says Soyini Fraser. A native of Guyana who in 2012 was awarded the prize of Miss Teen United Nation, Fraser adds that those points earned are incorporated into the interview segment, which constitutes 50 percent of a contestant’s scoring [the other 50% is based on how well Miss, Ms. and Mrs. interact with the judges].
When Fraser was crowned last year, she also won $10,000, and has since received free trips outside her country as a Miss Teen United Nation representative. Her new title has helped her and team of collaborators start a charity that supports hard-pressed children’s organizations in rural Guyana.
The pageant refers to contestants as ambassadors, a title that is intended to follow them long after the three-day pageant concludes, says co-founder L.N. Williams, who would like to see the event send winners back to their communities and use the power of their crowns to do good. [So, all the contestants are ambassadors to the U.N.I.B.P.–United Nations International Beauty Pageant, which is a gateway org. to the I.M.F. Impossible Missions Force starring Tom Cruise. That’s real, right?]
“We want everybody to become ambassadors to make a difference in a humanitarian capacity, to reach out to people to those less fortunate, to take charge in creating changes and making an impact in other people’s lives,” Williams said in a phone interview. [And only the stunningly beautiful can do that.]
As in most pageants, contestants pay to enter. Morgart says preparation fees can stack up to a few thousand dollars for a typical pageant. [Ah, now we’re talking global ambassadorships.]
Contestants Unable to Compete
As at the United Nations, where full participation in the Security Council and General Assembly is restricted by politics and global powers, not all hopeful contestants have the chance to compete.
“For the Miami pageant  we had close to 80 delegates but securing a visa was a big issue for a lot of contestants, especially from African and Asian countries, so we had to cut the number of delegates to 60 from 80,” Williams says.
Tania Gonzalez-Teran, 40, won the title of Mrs. United Nation last year, representing Cuba. A model, sales representative and a regular pageant attendee, Gonzalez-Teran says this pageant was a little bit different from the others. For one thing, it’s open to slightly older women, she says.
“When you are a ‘Miss’ it seems to be much easier. You have more confidence. And as you get older you are more aware of everything happening to your body, your flaws. Your body is not the same, because you are not the same girl you used to be,” says Gonzalez-Teran. “But that becomes an even bigger challenge and motivates you to be even better.”
Since the contest also looks at entrants’ community involvement, Gonzalez-Teran, born in Cuba but raised mostly in Miami, brushed up on her Spanish in anticipation of the pageant. She readied to answer questions about her native country–which did not have representation from a contestant now living there–and also amped up her community work, organizing local events, like walkathons, that reached out to potential victims of domestic violence.
“It’s about championing positive things that need to be spoken about,” she says. “It’s not just about a pretty face or a pretty girl. You can use the crown to try to come together and try to help each other because at the end of the day we are all human. I think that is what the U.N. stands for, right?” [No, hon, the U.N. stands for international chaos. Go to school.]
Thank goodness this pageant is “open to ‘slightly older’ women who are ‘aware of their flaws'”. I just might have a chance. So long as the judges don’t become aware of my flaws! Maybe, instead, they’ll be smitten with my ideas for world peace.
by T.M. Burroughs
P.S. I know, I know, it’s my flaws that make me adorable. Stop it.
More humor on aging by this author at www.resistantgray.blogspot.com
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