Among the many beauty pageants held all over the world, the international pageant Miss Earth 2017 held earlier this month, may seem obscure to us in Samoa.
However it shines through given its unique quality of combining environmental awareness with all the spectacle and glamour that comes with beauty pageantry.
Miss Earth 2017 was held in Manila, Philippines and it has been running as an international pageant for almost 17 years with its primary focus on promoting environmental awareness.
This year, 22-year-old Olivia Howman from Apia (who was also a runner up in Miss Samoa Victoria) was crowned Miss Earth Samoa 2017 and represented our island nation in the international pageant held on November 4, 2017.
Miss Howman said: “By giving voice to the environmental challenges facing countries, contestants hope to raise awareness of climate change effects and promote positive actions such as environmental awareness programs.
“Organisers would seek to engage and expand operations because increased international participation is forthcoming.”
In last week’s finale of the beauty competition, Philippines representative, Karen Ibasco, took out the title of Miss Earth in the national costume competition of the 2017 Miss Earth pageant.
However Miss Howman was all the better for the experience and in a written response to the Samoa Observer spoke about her personal involvement and some of the inner personal challenge that she faced.
“At the beginning I found it very hard competing. I was comparing myself to the other girls as they were slimmer than me and they all had faces of beauty.
“Whereas I had no idea how to apply make-up and I only packed clothes suited for outdoor activities, tree planting, picking up rubbish etc.
“I would look at myself as not worthy but we had this spiritual experience at Versailles where I was given the opportunity to speak up and I spoke about loving yourself and not seeking validation from others but merely accepting yourself for who you are.
“I realised this is the only way I know how to be; why would I want to be anyone else? The only way to become truly successful is to be you and from then on it was smooth sailing.”
The Samoan beauty took her duties very seriously as an Earth Ambassador for Samoa by utilizing her influence in her capacity as Miss Earth Samoa on social media and participating in grass roots activism in her state of Victoria, Australia.
“As for raising awareness for environmental issues, I do meet a lot of people and we did a lot of work with different councils and schools in the Philippines where we also got to speak and interact,” she said.
“We also gained a following on social media, so posting as well also raised awareness. I also helped with banning plastic bags in my state by getting enough signatures. I do a lot of beach clean ups as well but you know the best way to raise awareness is through example.”
According to the Miss Earth website, the pageant is one of the three largest beauty pageants in the world.
Apart from its strong emphasis on environmental protection programs, the pageant also aims to showcase and promote various tourist destinations and every year there are 80-90 candidates from all over the world.
The reigning title holder serves as the ambassador to environmental protection campaigns world wide for the Miss Earth Foundation and the United Nations Environment Programme.