It’s Teuila Festival time and that means the annual Miss Samoa Pageant; a time to pick your favourite, argue over who is “most likely” and if we are honest, take a critical look at any small imperfections of the contestants at televised and other media events in the lead up to the big night itself.
Beauty contests, as they are usually headlined, are apparently as old as the hills; older in fact.
It is claimed that they have been around since Ancient Greece starting with the Judgement of Paris. This was a myth about the goddesses Hera, Aphrodite and Athena competing over who was the most beautiful.
And so they have continued down through the ages with varying degrees of success evoking everything from sighs of pleasure to scorn and derision, depending on your point of view.
In the United States of America, they even have the scary spectacles of television shows featuring little girls emulating older females including their hairstyles, clothes, very adult mannerisms, moves and behaviour with the added and rather ugly spectacle of pushy mothers.
Here in Samoa we are a lot more circumspect and promote a more holistic view of what is beautiful in a woman.
The fact that our pageant is tied to the annual Teuila Festival which celebrates our culture and traditions, suggests that this pageant is not going to be the place to go to see tiny swimsuits, plastic surgery and fake tans.
There is still the excitement of wondering who will win, the beautiful clothes, the amazing costumes, the entertainment, and as was pointed out in our ‘Street Talk’ feature by John A’ana, “The most important aspect is that with these contests, people from overseas have the chance to actually learn something about our country.”
Culture and tradition play a major part in the overall event.
On the other hand, Young Sani claimed that “it is also about our culture, but in the end, I would say it’s more about entertainment than really supporting Samoa’s culture in a serious way”.
Both men are right of course.
What is often not factored in is the time-consuming details, the rehearsals and the creative work that goes on behind the scenes to put together this night.
As well as the event organizers, family, supporters and friends there are the set designers, clothes designers, hairdressers, choreographers, florists, sound and light technicians, judges, scrutineers, dressers, musicians, presenters and not forgetting you the audience and of course the contestants themselves.
All of these people are bringing their individual skill and talents to make the night memorable.
So whether you are going to get tickets to the event or watch the show on television from the comfort of your lounge, it doesn’t really matter.
Perhaps the last words should be from someone, the current Miss Samoa, Ariana Taufao, who has competed, won and is now about to hand over to her successor.
“You can never really be fully aware of a situation until you’re going through it. It is just about adapting. Nobody comes into this knowing everything. It is more like, ‘come into it and learn about it’, which is the main thing.”