Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's Not Always so Pretty

Ricardo Diaz Serrano/AP Photo

Besides boxing heroes and corrupt politicians, beauty queens always seem to captivate the headlines of the local papers. In this case, the latest story also appeared on the BBC's Web site. This recent scandal involves Ingrid Rivera, who was crowned as Miss Puerto Rico 2008 a few weeks ago. From the very beginning, her participation in the beauty contest has been considered to be unfair. Many believe her extensive experience in other pageants puts others at a disadvantage. After all, she was a judge in last year's contest. However, she was triumphant despite such criticism and having her makeup and dress, supposedly, exposed to pepper spray. The police are now investigating this incident, and they have even solicited the help from a prestigious forensic institution. However, about a week after the pageant, some began accusing Miss Rivera of fabricating this story. Furthermore, there's a possibility that she might have to take a polygraph test to prove her innocence. Aren't you just amazed with this fascinating drama?!

Personally, I have no interest at all in beauty contests. So, you might say, why am I bothering to blog about it? Well, it's because I am now living in the "Island of Enchantment" and Puerto Ricans take these things very seriously. Obviously, it has a lot to do with the local culture and I like to dig beneath the surface of things. Like many Spanish-speaking countries, such as Venezuela, physical beauty is extremely important. I don't think I've ever seen any Puerto Rican woman leave the house without makeup on. They also never seem to leave the house without 3-inch heels either. There are indeed many beautiful ladies here, and they certainly know how to flaunt it.

Perhaps, the focus on beauty explains why this small island of just under 4 million inhabitants has seen five of its beauty queens become Miss Universe. Thus, after the U.S, Puerto Rico is the second country to have held the title the most. I believe the focus on things, such as beauty pageants, is simply a distraction for people. This island has its fair share of problems, i.e rising unemployment and a huge government budget deficit, but people don't like talking about such issues. It doesn't surprise me at all to see an increasing number of Puerto Ricans move to the mainland U.S in search for better economic opportunities. Nevertheless, Puerto Ricans will always be proud of their beauty queens.

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