Over the last two months, I could have thrown my shoe just anywhere, and it would have hit a Miss Samoa beauty pageant contestant. Since June, there have been pageants across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. This should have meant that there were only 3 Australian entrants registered to compete at the overall Miss Samoa pageant at Samoa’s Teuila Festival in September; but there were four applications made.
Why? Due to administrative issues between the pageant organisers and Miss Adelle Faaosofia (the original winner of Miss Samoa Victoria), she was stripped of her crown and it was handed to the first runner up, Irene Monalise Siania. However, through the backing of the Samoan community in Melbourne, a separate associated group was created to register Miss Faaosofia as an independent contestant to the Miss Samoa pageant in September. Because the community’s application included all requested information from Samoa Events Inc (the Miss Samoa pageant event organising body) and the application from the Miss Samoa Victoria pageant group did not, Adelle is now still competing in September. So it seems, the whole Victoria pageant as it was held in the first place, was pointless.
That drama is only a step up from the July ‘leaked messages scandal’ that turned up on social media, of a just crowned Miss Samoa New South Wales, Fasi Faitafa Talimatasi Liolevave. Apparently contestants involved in the Miss Samoa NSW pageant were not able to get along; and so after she won, texts written by the winner, threatening to physically harm another of the contestants turned up on Facebook. And then there is the basic confusion that a Samoan living in Australia must feel when they look at the contestants poster that Samoa Events Inc recently posted up.
I had to ask people why there was a contestant named Miss Samoa Australia when there were other Australian contestants on the poster, named by state. In a Facebook Messenger conversation, I was told Miss Samoa Australia was actually the contestant from Queensland. ‘What?!’ I said, while I thought ‘can someone just burn every Miss Samoa pageant to the ground?’. I, and most people I spoke to, were pretty sick of hearing about failed Miss Samoa beauty pageants in Australia. There seem to be so many inexplicable elements of the process. Why cant we come to one overall Australian Miss Samoa that competes in September, like Miss Samoa New Zealand? Also, who is organising these things? Why don’t they know how to manage events?
And finally, why on earth do these people want to undertake organising something as massive as a beauty pageant, if they don’t have the skills to pull it off? It’s a bit of a mystery. I would say ‘to each his own’, if the community didn’t feel so ripped off by the events when they attended.
Two things I would love to see come out of the fiasco that has been almost every Miss Samoa beauty pageant in Australia in 2017, would be the following:
Firstly, that those organising the events look into the value of creating an overarching body in Australia, with rules and regulations governing how the events are managed; how an organisation becomes eligible to hold a pageant, the overall process of judging; and the timeline by which pageants occur.
Secondly, that within those rules and regulations, there are some eligibility criteria created around the girls and their qualification to compete. I think this is especially important with regard to ability to speak the language and cultural competency. This is a whole different conversation and I have taken into consideration the fact that biologically, you don’t have to speak Samoan to be Samoan. I’ve heard this argument time and time again. This doesn’t negate the fact that if you go on to become the overall winner of the Miss Samoa competition and you represent your country around the world, that it will seem a bit lacking for you to not actually be able to effectively communicate with all of the people that you are representing.
In general it would just be great not to see Pacific beauty pageants made such a farce of as it looks like they have been in the Australian community in 2017. Despite many misgivings in the western world about the lack of feminism and female empowerment in female beauty pageants, Miss Samoa has always provided the Samoan community with a rich sense of pride in who they are and where they come from. Doing this justice by working together towards a greater goal and a bigger picture, rather than what an individual wants, can only make our community stronger in my humble opinion. Having said that, good luck to all the beautiful tama’ta’i Samoa competing at Teuila in September.