On January 29, 85 hopeful women competed in the Philippine capital, Manila, for the 65th Miss Universe pageant, hosted by Steve Harvey. Viewers watch as the top thirteen competitors are announced after last week’s preliminary competitions. Those women have to compete through rounds, serving elimination down to 9 to 6 to the top 3 competitors. The show lasted three hours and is broadcasted globally.
Since 1953, contestants have been competing for the title. The Miss Universe Organization encourages women to gain confidence in order to do their personal best. The winners spend the next year traveling the world to promote their platforms as well as raise money for charity.
The pageant consists of a question and answer round, after the evening gown portion, where the top 6 contestants are given the opportunity to weigh in on current events happening around the world. This year’s top 6 were Maxene Medina of the Philippines, Chalita Suansane of Thailand and Mary Esther Were of Kenya, Iris Mittenaere of France, Andrea Tovar of Colombia, and Raquel Pelissier of Haiti.
Half of the questions surrounded current US affairs such as the newly elected President of the United States, Donald Trump, and many of the immigration policies that have been affecting those traveling from 7 countries with a Muslim-majority and many seeking refuge. This left many stranded in airports, unable to enter the country. Others were forced to return home. Other questions ranged from how active President Trump has been in his first 10 days to Miss Haiti’s question about the women’s marches earlier this month.
Winner, Iris Mittenaere, a 24-year-old dental student from France, received a question regarding the worldwide refugee crisis. She encourages travel and believes open borders could benefit us, saying “Having open borders allows us to travel more through the world, and to find out more about what’s out there in the world”, though she does believe that every country should have right to choose if they would like to have open or closed borders.
President Trump has had a very active first couple of weeks of his presidency, making decisions that are creating waves, even touching the Miss Universe Organization, once owned by Trump himself. His voice is being heard worldwide and his decisions are polarizing. Many fear they may not be able to return home from work and many face the possibility of not seeing family, as immigrating to the US has become increasingly difficult. It is interesting to see an organization like Miss Universe to weigh in so heavily on the issues regarding the US.