One of the defining characteristics of mainstream Colombians is that we want to be recognized as being NOT a 3rd World Country. Part of our interpretation of being a developed country is being part of something important and recognized globally. We feel that our participation in the Olympics, the World Cup or the Miss Universe Pageant for example, shows that we have earned a spot on the global stage.
In the case of the Miss Universe or Miss World pageants, we feel that we are watching with the entire world. We assume that because the WORLD is represented in the pageant, that everyone around the world is as interested and consumed as we are by the event. This helps explain why our National Beauty Pageant is so important. It is about choosing the one person who will win it all at the global level -- bringing glory to the country.
It all begins with the selection of the regional contestants. In every department, there are numerous beauty contests -- these are truly about beauty -- not necessarily talent or intellect.
On occasion, the winner of the Bambuco, Cana, Local Feria, etc. etc. is selected to represent her department. Most frequently, however, the local queen is hand picked by someone with the right influence and connections.
The National Beauty Contest is held in Cartagena in November each year. A prominent part of the pageant is the bikini contest, where the contestants attempt to prove that they meet or exceed the required measurements --90cm 60cm 90 cm. We actually post these numbers right on the TV screen and in the newspaper for the entire country to read and judge.
The contestants accumulate points toward the crown for not only the swimsuit competition, but the traditional costume competition, and the evening gown competition, among others. At least one or two judges are typically foreigners that will have the right "eye" for choosing the girl that will best capture the interest of the foreign audience. I guess that we don't trust our own concept of beauty.
The coronation of Miss Colombia is broadcast live on TV with just about the entire nation glued to their TV sets. The winner will represent Colombia at the Miss Universe pageant and the runner up at the Miss World competition. This TV audience is only rivaled by the one watching the Miss Universe Pageant.
And here is where we fail to realize that with the exception of maybeVenezuela, we are the only country in the world that stays up until midnight or 2 in the morning to find out if we made it to the top five. Most of the time, we go to bed tired and disappointed but ready to try again next year to find the girl that will make the world notice what we have always known -- Colombianas are beautiful!!!
Check out some of the candidates for this year's competition here -- scroll down to vote for your favorite: