a writing by Elizabeth Padillo Olesen

As I entered the house after a tiring day at work, I was met by my first daughter, jumping in joy, and almost lifting me up from the ground. She said, “ Maya has won, Maya has won!.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked so convinced that my happy girl was simply joking. “She was chosen as Miss World Denmark! I laughed and I asked her to put me down.

“ You don’t believe in it, mother? She won!”
“ No!” I raised my voice. I was a bit irritated as I tried to put all my heavy stuff on the table.

“Yes, she won and she will represent Denmark. She will represent Denmark in the Miss World Contest in November. She will go to London, mother. Are you not proud?”

I still felt she was simply joking. I raised my voice much higher. “Stop it!” and seriously asked her not to continue teasing me. She knows that beauty contests are not areas I want my children to be engaged in. I enjoy watching beauty pageants but I am so repulsed at situations when beauty and talents of young girls are simply paraded in front of a world that takes elegance and money as the sole measure to success.

“Will you not support her, mother? Will you not? “Anna was getting more serious in her voice.
“I did not know even that she was in Copenhagen for that”, I answered her again, just trying to be positive in order to ride with her joke.

”She was invited to join in the contest. She was just invited and she won the contest.” Anna insisted. I began to take her seriously and then I found myself wanting to listen to more details.

“You have to support her, mother,” she urgently said like telling me that I should rejoice like her.
And sure enough, Jenny, my second girl, came down from the stairs and told me the same news and the smile and pride on her face like Anna’s were strong enough to convince me that they were not joking at all.

I was told to keep the news in my heart. When media broke the news, then we were allowed to share it with others. Few days after, I saw the face of my girl in some newspaper clips and gossip magazines. Beautiful photos of her were appearing and friends and strangers from many countries in the globe began pouring out best wishes and congratulations. And some Christian friends even sent their best wishes coupled with prayers.

Why this jubilation, I reflected. Why responses of friends and families show great joy and pride? Well, to be part in a world event is a big thing, not many will have the chance to experience. For a 20 year-old Maya, this maybe a fairy tale and a great adventure. A girl from a cross-cultural parent, this title may affirm the beauty that is found in the blending of blood and cultures. Hers is a Euro –Asian beauty with a father who is a Dane and a mother who is a Filipina. Did the judges take this into consideration when choosing her to represent Denmark in the Miss World Contest? I asked myself.

For her this chance can possibly be taken a great privilege, that is, to experience the life of a youth able to see beauty upon anything that sparkles and can be measured by what one can buy. She has the chance to enter into this world of glitter and gossip and a mad race to find who is the greatest. Who is the most beautiful or talented? Or who gets the prestigious honour and fame? Can she bear the pressure? Of course, with family’s support she can handle it, I believe.

But why do I have my own misgivings about beauty contests? Why it was difficult for me to believe that my own child is joining the race? My disbelief was stronger than her own shock when she got the crown, Miss World Denmark. I have had my misgiving because I see beauty contests bestowing honor and fame to those we consider beautiful before our eyes and what about those whom we don’t consider beautiful? They too, have equal value as human persons! I also have seen those, who are defined by our eyes as stars and idols, with all the fame and honour bestowed upon them, and yet being hooked to drugs, committing suicides, known for scandals and made objects of gossips in tabloids and tongues of those who simply watch.

“How can you use this title, Maya?” I asked her.

And this same question she further treated in her written biography. She wrote, “ I will be able to work for charitable organizations. I will join with an organization, Doctors Beyond Borders”. I will help the poor and the needy. I met beggars when I was young. I experienced the woes of individuals and families hit by cancer disease. And I also will work with or support organizations that are showing concern for cancer patients or looking for a cure for such an illness.”

With her declared major concerns, which she thinks are very close to her heart, then I feel she will follow a road not necessarily to the road of honour and fame but to a life of service. Bless be this child and her dreams! Then I give her all my support and blessing to run for the Miss World Contest, the 6th of November 2011 in London.
Maya starts studies in nursing in February 2012.

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