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Monday, November 6, 2017
When asked to share the account of my experience as a former Miss T&T Universe delegate in light of the controversy surrounding the 2017 representative Yvonne Clarke, it was like reopening a cold case with no new leads. I participated in 2003, and it seems like such a long time ago.
I empathise with Clarke as this must be a very disappointing, embarrassing and confusing period for her.
I can’t say I support the Miss T&T/Universe Pageant as it is today. What I knew it to be prior to my involvement—a stately, professional event—has now turned into a masquerade of bacchanal.
The business aspect of the Miss T&T/Universe franchise has sorely been failing. And not now, but as far back as 2003 when my fellow delegates and I participated at a time when there were financial problems and relationships gone sour resulting in major sponsors of long standing pulling out. We also saw the shift from one marketing manager of the pageant company who was a stickler for professionalism to another who was brought in and got thrown into the mess. Most times we did not envy her position.
At times we had to dip into our own pockets. We were only sponsored two pairs of shoes, one beige and one gold that were to be worn to every public appearance (and they were many) over the six months of training and also on the final night. So if your shoe got damaged, you were on your own in fixing that. Those of us who did not have sponsors were also responsible for our own clothing.
The idea of getting a dress made specifically for you by a local designer remained just an idea for some of us who on the final night wore dresses from off the rack at a clothing store that was kind enough to sponsor a dress. That could not really come close to the standard of an evening gown for the purpose of competition.
In the six months of training possibly the most constant was our training team and support for each other. When any of us felt like giving up, there were people like Richard Young, Allison Seepaul, Shian Ottley, and Terry-Ann Nelson who would provide encouragement and support.
I can recall many of us having a hard time recognising the reality of the pageant as opposed to what it looked like on television. Needless to say when it was over, most of us breathed a sigh of relief.
I cannot speak for the experience of the young women in recent times, but from where I sit, there seems to be the need for a complete overhaul of the pageant company and its directors. Winning the Miss T&T/Universe pageant has been a dream for many young women and it is disheartening that instead of experiencing this dream they are instead faced with a nightmare.
These young women are not supposed be worrying about where they are getting sponsorship or plane tickets from, that is the job of the pageant company or franchise. This is an international event that places T&T on the world map and it is a big deal.
T&T has produced Miss Universe winners and a Miss World winner and over the years, some of our representatives have placed high. These women should be treated with the utmost respect and honour.
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