Miss World. The 3-B chosen girls from around the world for getting one of the most prestigious beauty pageants. Sometimes I cannot differentiate between Miss World and Miss Universe, as they look like identical but different by sponsor. In general, their missions are similar, Beauty, Brain and Behavior. That’s the precious moment if you want to see the most beautiful representatives from all around the world.
Indonesia has just sent its representatives for both of them since 2005 onwards. Indonesia’s participation on these pageants always rise controversies among Indonesians themselves. During New Order, there were several cases when an Indonesian participated to Miss World or Miss Universe, but she did not represent Indonesia, just on behalf of herself. At the time, it was considered as taboo and did not fit to traditional and religion values. Showing up your body and beauty in front of public, dress up bikini and many more, it was unacceptable particularly among conservatives. However, the conditions were contrast, while Indonesian is not allowed to follow Miss World and Miss Universe, minimalist dresses were even shown up on TV.
I still remember when in 1993 and 1995, Indonesia was only guest, not as participant in Miss Universe. Even though they were very potential for getting attention and won Putri Indonesia (the only recognized beauty pageant at the time). For me, this is ironic and until 2004, there’s no vibrant news about Indonesian representative in the world’s beauty pageants.
In 2005, however, this was the breakthrough of Indonesia for joining such beauty pageants. Started by Artika Sari Devi who won Putri Indonesia 2004 and she represented Indonesia in Miss Universe 2005. There were many controversies and surely she got sympathy and antipathy. Many said that the point was on the bikini contest, and she was the only one who wore one piece swimsuit at the time. While for bikini on the stage, it wasn’t openly aired in Indonesia. Artika Sari Devi got the best 15 and it was the first achievement for Indonesia. The next year’s Miss Universe then was represented by Nadine Chandrawinata who wore bikini, and it was shocking news. She was the first Indonesian representative who dare to wear bikini among other contestants.
Pageants in Indonesia
There are two big beauty pageants held in Indonesia. First is Putri Indonesia (Indonesian Princess) which sponsored by Mustika Ratu (a famous cosmetic company) and Miss Indonesia, by Sari Ayu (also one of the largest cosmetic companies in Indonesia). There are several differences between those two. In Putri Indonesia, the veiled contestants are allowed to join such as from Aceh. Typically Acehnese contestant wears hijab. While Miss Indonesia is not. As far as I know, no one in Miss Indonesia wears hijab, unlike Putri Indonesia. Putri Indonesia winner is sent to Miss Universe, while Miss Indonesia makes her way to Miss World. And of course with no bikini at all.
There are also local beauty pageants which emphasized on cultural preservations and the winners become cultural ambassadors. Usually the pageants are in pairs such as Abang None Jakarte (Mr and Ms Jakarta), Cak-Ning Surabaya, Galuh-Nanang Banjar, Koko-Cici Chinese, Kacong Cebbing Madura, and many more.
Indonesia and Miss World 2013
Being host for Miss World 2013 (will be held on September 2013) is actually a big honor for Indonesia, as it means Indonesia is trusted to held this glamorous starred beauty pageant. Though, it must raise controversies especially from religious conservatives. Much alike when Lady Gaga was forced to scrap her concert in Indonesia, as her controversial and sensational behaviors. Many international artists have visited Indonesia and surely they modified their performances in accordance to the locals. The controversial concerts are still considered weird, even immoral, though nowadays Indonesians have been more liberal than before. Even J-Lo modified her performance without showing vulgar dances during her show in Jakarta.
As the largest Muslim majority country, such event as Miss World is still dilemmatic thing, even though we are unlike some Middle East countries. Indonesia is very complex society who cover more than 700 ethnic groups with different languages (approximately 726 languages and dialects are spoken here), religions, political views and cultures. We should be able to balance between one and other interests, it is not easy and takes a lot of time. Many opinions appear on the forthcoming Miss World which will be held in Jakarta and Bali. Why? Despite most Indonesians are moderate society, but some ultra conservatives also growing and totally oppose to Miss World. When I think again, what about Israel contestant? Will she be allowed to enter Indonesia? I do not want to speculate about it more.
I know that some Arab countries also join this event, if I am not mistaken Lebanon and Egypt.
The positive thing of Miss World event held in Indonesia is the contestants will be able to know more about Indonesia’s beauty as well as its colorful society. It is a good sign for opening wide the contestants’ point of view about Indonesia, more than just Bali. The committee has also thought about the consequence for holding this pageant in Indonesia, by deleting bikini session and replacing it with Balinese traditional sarong. I think it will be unique and the first time on Miss World event. I believe many speculate about committee’s concern about Indonesian conservatives, therefore, they choose to compromise by fitting the dress with Indonesian’s nature. Indonesian designers also get more jobs to create contestants’ dress and it is perfectly good promotion for themselves and Indonesia in general.
For respecting others, Beyonce and The Pussycat Dolls are also to lengthen their dress during show in Indonesia.
I can only imagine what will happen if all contestants wear Balinese traditional sarong instead of bikini. It could be one-piece swimsuit covered with it or like Balinese women? Let’s see then. That’s my opinion, and in this case I choose to be neutral, because everything has got its good and bad sides.
Are we ready, Indonesians? It’s up to you.
8 June 2013