Every year the same drama. You bet it'll be the same in 2008: Huge effort just to get a handful of candidates together; another huge effort to get the winner listed in some international pageant; culmination: China spoils the broth, Miss Tibet withdraws refusing to run as Miss China-Tibet. Heartfelt Tashi Deleg to the winner? What a joke!
Dear fellow Tibetans, Shoenu-nam, I gave this some serious thought. I think the Miss Tibet pageant can be an enrichment for our culture. This is what I would to improve it if I were in Lobsang Wangyal’s shoes:
Step 1: Make the prize relevantRight now, the pageant is geared towards participants from India and Nepal. One what? Luck? Lakh? What’s that? How much? Rupees? Jowo Rombo (I really mean Jowo Rombo, not John Rambo), winners of beauty pageants in other countries receive modeling contracts, prizes that serve as a door-opener, something constructive the women can instrumentalise to get ahead in life and in the way they want. But just a bunch of something not even convertible into hard currency? Improve on the appeal of the prize, make it relevant.
Step 2: Drop the “Green Book” requirementAny person who is Tibetan by ethnicity and fulfils the requirements of a pageant should be able to participate. The Green Book requirement may seem like the politically correct thing to do. Fact is however, that many Tibetans abroad are foreign citizens and, for whatever reason, do not pay. If you want to increase participation in the pageant, drop this requirement. It’s obsolete. - Isn’t the pageant a private-sector undertaking, Lobsang-la? Applying for the pageant is not like applying for a post in the Dharamsala administration, right? So consider dropping it. Let’s not make this more bureaucratic than necessary.
Step 3: Move itConsider a more cosmopolitan venue for the pageant than Dharamsala. It’s like holding a beauty pageant in the Vatican. Where is the audience apart from a couple of "Sister Act" type monks and nuns? The conservatives are upset already claiming Miss Tibet “is not Tibetan culture”, why add oil to the fire by holding it right under their nose? Move it to a neutral place where you also have a decent audience.
Step 4: Be specific
“Miss Tibet” is misleading as the event is geared towards Tibetan women living abroad in India and Nepal. Specify. Make it “Miss Tibet Abroad” or “Miss Overseas Tibet” or “Miss Tibet India” or whatever. You understand where I’m coming from. This is not only common practice as in the example “Miss Taiwan USA”, it is also more accurate. Plus our candidate is less likely to irritate China in international beauty competitions.
Step 5: Exploit the potential
Something as glamorous as a beauty pageant would be so easy to market! The website and the entire promotion of this event could be so much more improved. If the organisers don’t have the know-how in-house, they should get professional marketing help from externals. Influence reputation, increase participation. Make the most out of it. Be creative!
Step 6: Stop mixing politics
All Miss Tibet give the same robot-like answer when asked what she would like to achieve during her year: “I – reba – really – reba – want to help create - reba – awareness about the Tibetan cause, reba”. - Good grief! As if we needed them to reconfirm all clichés about the intellectual capacity of women who participate in beauty pageants. Lobsang-la, why hasn’t anybody told these ladies that if all they want is spreading awareness about Tibet, they should join an NGO? Kuncho sum!
A beauty pageant is just that, a beauty pageant, all over the world, operated based on criteria specific to that industry. Stop using it as a platform to spread a political agenda for goodness sake. It’s shooting yourself in the foot. The winner has had enormous difficulty to participate in subsequent international competitions. Who can blame China when they claim “Miss Tibet” to be a political thing? It is! You allowed it to become that! If you want to be professional and if the winner of the pageant should be able to compete internationally, stop the political overtones.
Step 7: Be bold
And if China still has the face to ask our candidate to run as “Miss Tibet China” so be it. If I were Miss Tibet, I would go for it. I would look at it not as treason but as an act of pragmatism and courage. The Tibetans know my heart is in the right place (left that is). The Chinese will come to like me because I accept them. I will be in the unique position to look after my individual goals without ever compromising my commitment to my people. Of course I would also rather wear a tag that says “Miss Tibet” only. But sometimes you have to be flexible. For a patriot, it takes more guts to wear “Miss China Tibet” than to quit. That’s the way I see it. But then I would’nt qualify in the first place. Akha!
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