Why? Why not?

I am sitting here wrapping up on end of year reports and reading all the wonderful updates of the Miss World 2015 pageant. I am bursting with pride and joy for Miss World Samoa’s ( tama’ita’i o Latafale Auva’a) current standings in the various categories.

I’m sure you can read up on those placings elsewhere – what I’d like to chat about is what this means for our young women. The aspiring Samoan teine (Samoan girl) or any daughter of the Pacific in terms of our place in society.

Now I’m only going to put out there my thoughts and welcome your manatu (thoughts) around women empowerment, challenges we face as a collective and our aspirations forย tomorrow’s girl power!

This is not just for Pacific but I will only build context for thought around what I am most familiar with and that is who I am – a tama’ita’i Samoa (Samoan and female).

There was heated debates around how Latafale would get to Miss World and from the sounds of things not everyone was on board. I say good on her! These days the very communities (even families) can be the critics that hold back our young people from saying yes to new experiences. Why couldn’t Miss Samoa or any other Pacific beauty queen look beyond the Miss South Pacific crown and aim for what is generally perceived as being for ‘mainstream’ or my pet peeve ‘that is only for palagi’.

For those who know me personally (probably a good thing not many do :P) I am a free-spirit. You ask me about race and I say talk to me about the human race. You want to discuss religion why not talk about who is God to you because I want to imagine your God’s beauty. Not to compare but merely so I can experience you piece of heaven for moment. Yes – my openness to learn from another extends from my passion for education.

My dad (a man of many ‘worldly’ pieces of advice) always stressed to my sister and I the importance of being knowledgeable. Not to be a ‘matter-of-fact’ fiapoko kind of way. But knowledgeable to make informed decisions based on the endless possibilities that life has to offer. He was far from optimistic at times but perhaps he knew that in future everything would change. They sure have… in some cases they haven’t.

The thing is – Miss World Samoa’s participation is significant. How? it’s like every time a young man from South Auckland is selected for a representative side of rugby his status goes from low socio-economic upbringing destined for jail, pre-determined from stats on a paper kid to a potential legend of the sport provided that he is from similar stock as the very first kid that did just that!

Latafale’s progress in this pageant means other young women can now identify themselves as being future candidates. It’s like when Barack Obama went into office – for a number of years this seemed impossible. Even I was proud for a country that I’m not affiliated too. Why? because when you’re the first to get there – you have taken one for the team and brought to life the dream!

There’s so much to elaborate on in regards to how this makes me feel, think and know to be true for the future – but it would be great to talanoa (talk/chat) with anyone who thinks alike, differently or not at all.

Cold feet

This post is also to celebrate the positive vibes on my twitfeed. It is great to see more cohesiveness and less bitterness at one another. We can be so quick to put our peers down and for a change we are uplifting by celebrating the mini milestones in one’s journey.

Wishing you all a fantastic December – go Miss World Samoa, seki a oe ๐Ÿ™‚




4 thoughts on “Why? Why not?

  1. Ana, I am a supporter of South Pacific beauty pageants, but I didn’t support Latafale going to the Miss World. Unlike the Prime Minister, it wasn’t because I thought that she would end up just getting pa’u pa’us – honestly, Stui needs to be checked out of office, that aside, my problem with the Miss World contest, is that the dominant paradigm is that of external beauty. And the external standards of beauty are based on firstly, a dominant, euro-centric paradigm, and then of a euro-centric exoticization/orientalist approaches to sexualizing the exotic, newly accessible other. And all the contestants have been funneled into that ideal. Part of Latafale’s success has been based on the novelty that she presents in not only the way she presents herself, but the culture that she so wonderfully represents. To me it’s cultural consumerism and it cheapens us, in the eyes of them.

    Where the PM went wrong is he forgot what the original point of the MSP was when it was set up in the 1980s was that it was about reclaiming our own sense of what a feminine identity is within the Pacific Islands, and was meant to promote on an equal footing the beauty that our ladies possessed. As the Miss World and Miss Universe contests belittled our cultures and our standards of what we considered to be beautiful.

    All the pro-feminist arguments aside, I don’t think the Miss World contest with all its recent changes can shake off this simple fact that it still objectifies women on so many levels. Latafale herself had to physically change her body and appearance just to fit the entry criteria of the Miss World, there are specifications of height, weight and waistline that contestants actually have to meet before they can enter.

    Now I’m not detracting from Latafale’s achievements, she has represented Samoa superbly and I’m super proud that she even wore a creation my Uncle designed and created in my garage! But, I still hope that Samoan women will be promoted in other fields soon, not just the Miss World, in the future, I want to see Samoan women taking lead roles in International NGOs, in leading entrepreneurial fields, become heads of multinational corporations, academia, fields where their voices are heard beyond their aesthetic appeal. And I want to see Samoan society celebrating these women more.

    ma le fa’aloalo lava


    ps. manuia lava lau kerisimasi my dear! xox

      • Oh Patty – I knew someone out there in virtual space will answer my talanoa question for Tuesday. I 100% agree with you on all the above. As you put it we are very proud and don’t take away from Latafale’s progress but for me it’s putting into action – living proof that if you want see success sometimes you have to pave the way and make it do-able. Hope that makes sense. I would definitely one day hope to see Pasifika women or more women in general be in those leadership roles NGO / UN as we’ve seen already with women who are in there right now. I know one who is paving the way in NZ rugby (so proud of you Mo if you get to read this!). It only takes one. Quite frankly I’d rather have my niece looking for beauty aspirations from a Latafale as opposed to the reality tv stars that our girls are bombarded with… btw I saw that your uncle was the designer and more reason for me to be proud. Rewa hard! ๐Ÿ™‚

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s