There are titles and titles. History, religion, literature and myths refer to many individuals who possess such an illustrious designation whether Empress or Lady and everything in between.
But there is one unique title every girl on the planet has fantasized about at least once in her life. It is not aristocratic in origin nor does the Vatican granted it. Forget the Olympics and, no, it did not originate in 1940 by Hoosier, Eleanor Lambert, because Numero Uno of the Best Dressed List it is not.
It is given in a ceremony that is aired worldwide, a title that comes equipped with a sparkling crown immediately fitted upon the winner's heavily coiffed mane, a label deeply embedded in the female realm: Beauty Queen.
One of my favourite birthday gifts as a tiny toe head was a white one-piece swimming costume with red and blue letters emblazoned across the front. It read: MISS AMERICA. I strutted upon an imaginary spot-lit stage throwing kisses to a clamouring crowd holding a make believe bouquet of flowers so many times, I must have worn a trail on the rug beneath my Ked-clad feet.
Many of today’s top beauty contestants have academic backgrounds that are not only verifiable they are respectable. Once the coveted Beauty Queen title is nabbed, doors will effortlessly open for throughout their lives. I have met a handful and can vouch for this. It may sound silly and frilly, but it holds more power than you might think. Even in the XXIst century.
Rakhim Ganieva, a Miss World hopeful, is one such eager contender. This eighteen-year-old is determined to go where no other contestant has gone before. Legally or illegally. The brunette is busy hobnobbing with Miss Russia, Miss Albania and Miss Georgia plotting her way towards the pinnacle as we speak.
Do not be fooled: this competition is not for the faint of heart. It requires unwavering determination and impenetrable self-assurance at every turn. Every single contestant selected to represent her country has done her tour of duty. Except for one…
Miss Uzbekistan is an exceedingly thick-skinned eighteen-year-old, whose very daring plan is literally hatching upon the world stage. She said she was a student at the University of International Diplomacy and Economy. Her written biography, however, reads ‘graduate of the Tashkent Professional School of Tourism’. Lost in translation? You tell me…
She poses for the press and tells them how she hopes to become a lawyer one day, regales them with her skills on the tennis court and her passion for music and travel. All the while, the Uzbekistan Culture & Sport Ministry and the National Committee suggested on the radio that Miss Ganieva is an imposter. Uzbekistan officials stated clearly that their country has not held any Miss World pageant and worse yet, they still have no idea who Rakhim really is.
Nonplussed, Rakhim continues to learn the dance routines and faffs over her wardrobe and makeup just like the other international participants. Nobody ruffles this feisty contestant’s feathers, whether her title is real or not: she IS and WILL BE Miss Uzbekistan until some official literally pulls her off the stage. Quitting, losing face or running for the woods are not Shebug options. Rest assured that Ms Ganieva will continue to smile at the camera extol the virtues of reading Tolstoy, Chekov and Dostoevsky.
Though no one has records on her, they sure have her number. The president’s daughter is tweeting catty comments about the “Tajik-looking girl” who “appeared out of nowhere.” But nobody’s fool, Rakhim Ganieva is well aware that even ‘bad’ press is good press.
The Miss World officials are scouting for a new location for the upcoming finale, as threats from Jakarta Islamic hardliners grow nastier. But sweating bullets they are not: the Miss World ratings remain sky-high thanks to the pretender for the crown, Miss Whoever-You-Are.