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Dear Pageant Girl,

So I thought I would give it a couple of days before I gave my review of the Miss Universe Australia 2013 show. It was such a hectic three days for me running behind the scenes reporting that I needed a couple of days for the emotional excitement to settle down so that I can really look back and review the shot with as much objectivity as possible.

In what seems to be a case of pageant de ja vu, I felt like Miss Universe 2010 all over again.

More on that later.

Politics and conspiracies aside, there was little difference with this year’s show to the others in the past, other than the fact that we seem to have more sponsors than usual this year (great for the pageant, not so much for the audience who have had to endure the inevitable credits which ran forever). It was interesting to have so much crediting and so much branding (Antler Luggage had the good fortune of covering the bodies of all 30 ladies in oversized sashes for most of the show) which no doubt had their marketing team rubbing their hands with glee while the audience moaned and groaned having to sit through the necessary motions to fulfil corporate responsibility. But I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.

We realise that you have to give the sponsors their due as they are the ones essentially funding everything, though I do think that a bit of brainstorming prior to next year need to happen to present the sponsors in a more creative manner in order to engage the audience.  No one likes branding shoved down their throats but being a necessary evil, surely there are ways in which we can thank them without the audience’s eyes glazing over.  I shall spare you the details and get straight to the juicy bits.

All the girls looked amazing and flawless on stage.  Savoir Faire Cosmetics did a wonderful job on all of the candidates.  Every single girl looked fresh, their skin glowed and everyone looked glamorous.  I guess that’s one of the advantages of having one company do everyone’s faces; cosmetically, everyone is on a level playing field.  Seeing the girls of Savoir Faire backstage work their magic (there were ten candidates per consultant) was like watching artists at work. Amazing.  And ladies, when you have your face being done by the directors of the company, you know you’re in good hands.

Pic credit: Tim Carrafa

Pic credit: Tim Carrafa

It was also nice to see some of the girls break rank and sport a bun instead of the usual Victoria’s Secret waves.  While no doubt gorgeous, the wavy big hair is really starting to look tired and boring.  I admire the girls who have taken the risk and the chance to be different.  In a sea of beautiful women you have to do what you have to do to stand out and I applaud the girls that tried to do that.

Pic by HRH DPG

Pic by HRH DPG

THE TOP TEN

Top Ten: Mary Vitinaros, Kristy Coulcher, Silka Kurzak, Olivia Wells, Charlotte Goodlet, Tegan Martin, Marsi Fernandez, Tamlin Dobrich and Alicia Maxwell (not in photo)

Top Ten: Mary Vitinaros, Kristy Coulcher, Silka Kurzak, Olivia Wells, Charlotte Goodlet, Tegan Martin, Marsi Fernandez, Tamlin Dobrich, Saasha Burns and Alicia Maxwell (not in photo)

I’m not going to take away anything from the girls who made the top ten this year.

HOWEVER.

In saying that, I found the exclusion of some of the stronger girls shocking:

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kHERO

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Goodness knows what went down behind the scenes during the preliminaries but pageant observers around the world are still scratching their heads in bewilderment. Physically, Melinda, Kirsten and Caris were flawless.  They shone on stage and featured in everyone’s top ten list.  While we all celebrate the underdog, to exclude such strong competitors from the finals is a crime. While I am fully aware that we are not in the business of sending beautiful idiots abroad, we still have to look at overall impression and choose the woman that gives us the best possible chance overseas in a beauty pageant.  PRELIMINARY JUDGES TAKE NOTE.

THE TOP FIVE

Top Five Finalists: Marsi, Tegan, Kristy, Mary and Olivia

Top Five Finalists: Marsi, Tegan, Kristy, Mary and Olivia

The only real surprise was the exclusion of Saasha Burns from the Top Five.  Saasha competed in 2011 and back then, was shut out of the finals.  She came back stronger than ever and most people in the audience thought that she would be the one to pull a major upset and bring the crown back to Melbourne after 14 years.  Saasha had an amazing runway performance, rocking it in swimsuit and looking elegant in her evening gown. And yes, she wore a bun! How the judges could vote her out is beyond me.

Saasha Burns

Saasha Burns

There were some elements this year that really impressed me. Some that made me laugh and others that left me gob smacked.

LOVED how we got to learn a little more about the top ten as details of themselves and a beauty shot were flashed onscreen as they strutted their stuff on stage in swimwear.

LOVED how all contestants were given their time on stage in evening gown.

LOVED how Melinda Kemp broke ranks and ignored choreography during her evening gown performance and worked the stage like a top ten finalist. Good for her.  It’s not like she was going to lose anything now. 🙂

LOVED the choreography by Katie. The girls moved flawlessly on stage and were positioned beautifully (a dream for the photographers).

LOVED the setting.  The ballroom looked glamorous and the lighting was moody and gorgeous.

LOVED the simplicity of the stage.  It kept us focussed on the girls the entire time.

LOVED the Novo Shoes Parade.  I don’t know if the segment was meant to be funny but that section was just surreal – the girls in white cocktail dresses and white feathered masks shimmying on stage accompanied by two sexy dancers who bordered vulgarity at times.  By this stage the non-finalists pretty much just wanted to have a good time on stage and it showed, though Im sure no one paid attention to the shoes, rather most of us sat there scratching our heads trying to figure out what was going on in front of us. Either way we all had a good laugh. An excellent comedic relief in what otherwise was a tense night.

LOVED the delegates from Northern Territory and Tasmania. These new talent completely blew me away!

SURPRISED at what looked like a Western Australia shut out.  The ladies of the west are some of the strongest competitors and I have to credit the WA team for elevating the standard of competitors year after year.  They have always sent quality girls over which has forced the other states to up their game in order to compete. To have two of their strongest not go through is a mystery to me.

PERPLEXED and DISAPPOINTED as to the style of how the winner was announced.  When it came down to the top 2, instead of announcing the name of the first runner up first and giving her what’s due, the host Pete Lazer insisted in announcing the Miss Universe Australia winner FIRST, leaving the first runner up basically shoved aside and ignored.  Come on people. Coming second is no mean feat.  Give the girl what she’s due.  Pete Lazer, it would serve you well to watch a few Miss Universe shows – changing the format of how a winner is announced makes a mockery of the show and the competition. Do us all a favour – know your product and educate yourself.

SICKENED by the low placement given to Mary Vitinaros. Another return competitor, Mary came first runner up in 2012 to Renae Ayris. Mary came back stronger than ever and many pundits had her and Tegan Martin as the last two standing. To place fifth was a joke. This was not only a slap on the face to Mary, but a major insult especially as we are meant to base our scores on the candidate’s overall performance.

Mary Vitinaros

Mary Vitinaros

Now to the winner.

Behold, the second coming of Jesinta Campbell!

In a classic case of the dark horse snatching victory from the hands of the favorites, DPG would like to give their congratulations to the newly crowned Olivia Wells.  You beat the best of the best and we salute you.  Well played.

Olivia Wells with First Runner up, Tegan Martin

Olivia Wells with First Runner up, Tegan Martin

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Olivia is a 19 year old medical student from Victoria who is an avid swimmer and has size ten feet.  No one saw Olivia coming and her victory was a surprise to all.  Based on DPG Victoria’s assessment of her in the State Finals, we kept a close eye on this brunette knowing that she would be the most capable of pulling an upset on the night.

Why?

Because the girl can talk and work it. She is every sponsor’s dream ambassador, able to drop her corporate sponsor’s names and titles on cue. She will be a pageant director’s dream.

In fact, I can’t help but feel a strong sense of deja vu, taking me back to 2010 when Jesinta Campbell took the title.  Definitely not the most facially striking and having stumbled through her answers, Jesinta snatched the title from favourites Shadae Magson, Renae Wauhop and Lia Tapper.

What can I say? Australian celebrity judges LOVE to award the crown to those who screw up their answers.

But the formula seems to work, so ladies, if you are reading this and planning on competing in the pageant next year – take note.  Fumble, screw up your answer and recover.  It’ll probably increase your chances of winning. According to history anyway!

Olivia has some serious work ahead of her.  But something has to be said about a girl who featured on no one’s list, to take the crown in a shock victory from the hands of the favourites.  If she can do it here, she can do it in Moscow.

All she has to do is blitz through the swimwear and evening gown and make the Top Five at Miss Universe. As soon as this girl opens her mouth she will wipe the floor with the other delegates.

In fact, I believe Olivia will actually bring honor to the Miss Universe Australia brand.

She is well spoken, she seems intelligent, ambitious and very driven. When it comes to positive role models, she ticks all the boxes. To have her represent Miss Universe Australia is a good thing.  She is a walking example that you just don’t have to be beautiful to succeed in life.  Why can’t you be smart and beautiful?  Olivia is the best ambassador to put in front of journalists like Rita Panahi and show the world that beauty queens are not bimbos and that beauty pageants are not antiquated events – that there is a place for them in modern society.

Scherri-Lee Biggs has the title of the most beautiful Miss Universe Australia.  Renae Ayris, the best body.  Olivia Wells earns the title of smartest.

Brains before beauty? Who knows, a geek just might bring the crown back to Australia.

Watch this space.

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OLIVIACROWN

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