Chapter 5 : We're introduced to the Public... and it's no good.
Up till now, the public at large still did not know who the Miss World Malaysia 2014 finalist were. I was under the impression that the 'curtains were going to be unveiled' via the official photos but was surprised when the World Cup video was uploaded first instead. If you haven't already seen it, I have included it below.
To my dismay, the video did not turn out as I had wished. I was the total opposite of being composed and collected. I moved WAY too much and my over smile was extremely evident. I think I speak for all the MWM girls that the video did not portray us well. I really regretted that this was the way we were being introduced for the first time to Malaysia. This video was definitely a wake up call for me. It was not only how I looked in pictures that mattered, but I realized that I needed the character and composure of a beauty queen as well.
I found out about the video in the evening and I had a bad night throughout the day. I knew I could do better and I regretted not being on my A game throughout the day of the photo shoot. I put so much emphasis on taking pictures that I totally forgot to think through the videos. I had a friend pep talk me the entire night and I ended the night feeling refreshed, and ready to do better the next time round.
The next morning, I received a personal message from one of the Miss World Malaysia Finalist, C*. It read "people are being so mean". I had no idea what she was referring to but she later directed me to this.
Screen Shots done by a fan page
A fan page had uploaded the same video on their Facebook wall. They did screen shots of each contestant and well, they weren't very good at it. In fact, they weren't very good at all. And the comments started pouring in.
Tell me , how do you NOT feel shitty about yourself after reading this kind of comments?
The public did not care that this was a raw introductory video. They did not understand that we were in no way prepped. We were just pulled out in the middle of a photo shoot and told " can you just answer this questions?". This was before any sort of training and we weren't given second takes or told how we could improve. They did not care that the screenshots uploaded was extremely poorly chosen but the most heart breaking thing was they did not care about us. Our personalities, our passions, what drives us... nothing. All they judged us on was a sucky screen shoot.
Now I'm not saying that the girls are at no fault. We were raw and had not an idea of what we were doing, but the random, unflattering screenshots made matters worst.
This is not the way you want to be introduced to the public the first time
When I saw the comments for the first time I felt very bare. Like I was being attacked and had no amour to hide behind. And then I felt mad. I felt mad at the fan page , at the rude people who commented and at myself. This people didn't even know me and they were making assumptions based on evidence that wasn't even concrete. I wanted to reply these nasty comments and I thought about the long personal complain that I was going to send to the admins of the fan page.
But then I remembered something that my mentor thought me some time ago. Whatever people speak of you, take in what is the truth and work on it, but whatever is not the truth, be done with it because I should have no connection to things that are not even real. It is like if someone was to comment saying that I was a crocodile. I know for sure I'm not a crocodile, and I'm very human like okay, so why should I be affected by such a shallow comment?
With that in mind, I thought through what I was going to do. What was better; to go on spreading hate towards the commentators and the admin or to spread confidence and love to my fellow pageant sisters that have also been hurt by the incident? I choose the later and I'm glad to say that I at least made another persons' day.
Up till today I'm glad to be friends and pageant sisters with C. I can say that throughout the pageant week, if I ever need emotional help or some encouragement, I know that I can go to C because I was there for her as well.
* I left out the real name of C to respect her privacy.0 lovely comments ✿
Chapter 4: Please Take back your compliments
The responds / comments/ internet coverage that has emerged from the pageant has been overwhelming. Did you know there are independent fan pages that covers Malaysian pageants? You can check the two most popular ones here (Missology Malaysia) and here (Miss Malaysia Pageant). From my observations, people are way more mean (or as they would like to say, 'honest') in these fan pages than they are in the official pageant Facebook pages. I would think it is because the fan pages give the public more room to 'express themselves' (even if that means being a total as*) while the official pages have a no nonsense approach towards negative connotations.
Now, I would address rude/ untasteful /mean comment in general some other time. Today, I want to address a certain group of comments that I see surfacing often. These comments start up in good taste, either encouraging a certain girl, or showing support for her like "I really like ***" or "I think *** is beautiful" and I have no problem with that. What I have a problem with is how these comments end. What started as positive comment turns into a negative when the commentator starts to bring down the other girls in comparison. " ** ** is the best out of all the girls" or " My only support is for ****, the rest can go home" or "*** is the only person that is able to represent Malaysia gracefully!"
Now I get it, you have a certain girl that you have undying support for and you would do just about anything to show the world that you would catch a grenade for her, but complementing her by insulting another woman is not a compliment. What you're doing is stirring up unwanted competition between the girls. Us girls have enough insecurities and things to worry about on our own. As much as you have good intentions to support your favorite girls, I'm absolutely sure that there is a better way of expressing your support.
I realize that a big group of commentators are like headless chickens. They run around dropping comments without giving them a second thought and do not realize the reciprocal effects of such comments. As much as the internet is a place for you to express yourself, you also have the responsibility of doing so with class. Us girls have feelings too and we really do read all the comments. You are free to support whoever you please, just don't bring the rest of us down along the way.
I want to direct this post to two groups of people. The first is the wonderful women that is in Miss World Malaysia with me and other fellow pageant queens in their various pageants. Girls, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Each of us brings something unique to the table. Our race in the pageant should not be against each other, but rather towards our self improvement. I urge you girls not to encourage or remain a spectator to such comments. Educate your fans . As much as you know your self worth, I ask you to value the worth of your fellow pageant sisters as well. Don't click "like" whenever a commentator 'compliments' you by bringing another girl down, instead, reply him with a nice comment along the lines of "Thank you for you support, but I cannot take your compliment if it insults my fellow pageant sisters". I too have been guilty of liking comments that I felt luke warm about, just because I felt obligated to do so for the ounce of support a stranger was showing me, but looking back, I missed out of an opportunity to stand up to what I truly believe in, which was woman empowerment.
The second group of people I am directing this post to is you. Yes you, the public. You consist of family, friends, supporters and random people passing by. I urge you to give some thoughts into your comments. Think about the girls on the other end of your comments. If all else fails, remember a good piece of advice my mom told me when I was younger, if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything.0 lovely comments ✿
With the limited budget that I had, there were surprisingly many options that Kuching had to offer. However not all of them had great reviews. If you ever are finding for places to stay in, I suggest checking out site like Trip Advisor or Agoda to read the reviews of previous guest. What my friends and I liked about My Place Hotel & Lodge was that the general comment was on its cleanliness and unlike other hostels, the owner himself'/herself would reply their reviews.
From my research, I found out that for most backpackers / hostels, it was cheaper to get a queen sized bed for two then to get two individual beds. Well, it only made sense. Also, it turns out that it was cheaper to book a room by calling the hotel than to book via sites like Agoda and Bookings. I realize that travelers always take for granted that these sites would provide them the best rates without even calling the hotel to check their own rates first. It was not a significance difference. Less than RM10 but multiply it with the amount of nights you are staying in that particular hotel and it could add up to a lot.
My Place is till fairly new. The hostel / lodge opened its doors to backpackers and travelers in 2010 and has a total of 18 rooms.
My Place was not hard to find. It's along Jalan Pandungan and had a big signage. It is situated right in front of the statue of 4 cats (you'll understand when you see it). It took us about 15 minutes without traffic to reach from the airport.
Parking might be an issue at My Place, but who brings a car when on vacation in Kuching anyway? Available parking spots would be either on the main road or the back alley. My Place is about a 10 minute walk from the waterfront, China Town and Indian Street. It is also 2 doors down to a local supermarket and right next to a bistro that has a live acoustic band playing every night.
The Reception. Not too fancy but enough. On the second day of our stay, there was a lady there called Nida who was extremely helpful with directions and our other touristy questions. The also sold mineral water there at a reasonable rate as the rooms did not provide a kettle. Before checking in, we had to make a full payment of our rooms for the duration of our stay.
The hallway of the second floor.
The room I stayed in had a queen sized bed and an attached toilet for RM 55 a night. That came down to about RM27 a person per night. Two towels were provided and a roll of toilet paper.
The walls of the room were really thin so you could hear what was going on in the room opposite to ours. We felt obligated to speak softly after our neighbors gave us a couple of taps on the wall.
We asked for a room with a window beforehand. It wasn't huge but it still was functioning.
I am not sure if it was because of the window or how close our room was to the main road or that the walls were really thin but it was really noisy at night. I could hear the cars passing by, people talking on the streets and the sound of the band from the bar next door. It only got quiet at about 2 in the morning. If you are a light sleeper, I recommend you ask for a room that is further into the building.
There is free wifi provided throughout the hotel though the signal isn't great. Especially at nights it gets a little laggy. What I loved about the room was that it had 4 fully functioning power outlets which was great for two people.
The toilet was a good size and fairly clean. The water heater worked fine and the water pressure was great.
A funny story was how the mirror on the toilet had 'good luck' written on it. The first thing that came to mind was "Why do I need luck in this room? Is there something wrong with it?". But no worries, nothing happened throughout my two nights stay.
There was even a common area provided on the second floor. Looking at how the internet modem was situated there, I assume that this is where you can get the fastest internet connection. Is was slightly unkept but for the price I was paying, I had no complains.
Another room with a queen size and single bed + attached toilet
Another room with two single beds + attached toilet
We were told that checkout was at noon but because occupancy was low, we could take our time. The hotel workers were even nice enough to allow us to leave our luggage after checkout in their office while we spent the day walking around town.
Overall a good stay. I do recommend My Place if all you plan to spend the entire day out and just want a clean and comfortable place to wind down to at night. It's value for money. I just suggest you bring along some earplugs :)
Chapter 3 : The Official Photo Shoot.
This was definitely something I was looking forward to. The girls we divided into 2 groups. One group was to shoot on Friday while the second was to shoot the next day. I choose the session on Friday which turned out to be a blessing because there were only 8 girls scheduled. This meant a faster shoot and a shorter wait time.
Preparations for the shoot included watching my diet the week before (hah!), vigorous exercise (hah!!!) and I did research on poses and how to smile. Too often I am told by the people casting me that I have a smile that is either too big or ' too happy'. The most common feedback I get would be "tone down on the happiness level a notch" which I find a challenge.
My usual smiling face. Too big of a smile. Some people call this the 'over smile'
A controlled smile. Toned down.
I was informed that we would be shooting 3 different things that day which was our beauty shots, swimwear and Metrojaya (our main sponsor) outfits. Having to shoot swimwear also meant that private personal cleaning/maintenance things needed to carry out at a very private personal part which I shall not dabble on. A couple of days prior to the shoot I emailed Dato' Anna to make sure I got the time and location of the shoot double checked and that I was aware of everything that I needed to bring.
I was told to bring along a black top for the beauty shot and very high heels. Just to be safe I brought along 3 varieties of black tops and 2 of my highest heels. The photo shoot was scheduled at 9am at Dwayne Foong's studio in Ara Damansara. I am not a morning person at all. In fact, I kind of despise mornings. It was so hard for me to get out of bed that morning, especially since I had trouble sleeping the night before due to anticipation for the shoot. I prepared what I was going to wear and everything that I had to bring the night before so I could get an extra minute or so of sleep the next morning. On the day of the shoot I left the house with moisturizer, sun screen and mascara on. I decided to skip breakfast which was not a very good idea because my tummy was grumbling throughout the shoot.
I arrived at 9 am sharp only to find that I was not the earliest ones there. Other girls had came way earlier already.I tried to take in as much information from my surroundings as I could. I recognized Dato' Anna from the previous interview but everyone else seemed foreign. I remember seeing a lot of people in black and a lot of people holding either DSLR's or digital cameras. I later learned that they were part of our team of sponsors that were covering the event. The sponsors present that day were
The team of hairdressers for Fridays' photo shoot. They were all extremely friendly.
I admit to being a little startled and intimidated at first. There were so many people in a limited space and it seemed like everyone knew what they were to do except for me.The night before, as much as I was excited, I started second guessing myself and doubting if I was going to perform well. I felt intimidated at the thought that I would be meeting the other girls. I imagined the other finalist to be elegant fine young ladies who were much smarter and way prettier than me. I was very blessed to have a friend come along for moral support. At least if I was put in a situation with unforeseen variables, I still had something constant with me. Also, prior to the shoot I was warned by caring friends and family members of rumors they have heard about the pageant industry. The rumors were of pageant girls being taken advantage of and doing special 'favors' to make it in the industry. Hearing such rumors and not knowing if they were true or not, I thought it would be wise to bring a long a male friend that had my best interest.
The scene at Dwayne Foong Photography's studio when I entered. Everyone was busy!
A couple of minutes after my arrival, Brian Lee called me by name and introduced himself and the photography team to me. He took down my Facebook page and wanted for me to like a couple of pages on Facebook immediately (His page and the Miss World-Malaysia page) so that I could be in the know of any social media updates on the pageant.
Brian Lee and the team of photographers and videographers
I was then asked to take a sit in the waiting area as all the work stations were filled. It was there that I met Vidiana, another finalist. I think the reason we both hit it off instantly was because we both were so clueless at that time. Haha. She asked me to call her ViDi instead as her name was 'too long'. She was humble, very approachable and extremely warm.
ViDi and I after our hair and make up. I do not know why my cheeks look so swollen in this picture.
Seeing that we two had nothing to do, the stylist that had just arrived asked VD and I to come over to pick out our FunFit swimwear and Metrojaya outfits. I realized that we both were the first among all the girls who got to choose our outfits.I felt really lucky to have first choice and I think it was God's favor. It's always good to have first choice because you can pick whatever outfit is most suitable for your body type rather than forced to wear whatever is left. Also, since all the other girls were busy getting their hair and make up done, or hadn't arrived yet, I got to try on a variety of outfits before choosing one that I was happy with. Looking at the Metrojaya outfits available, I quickly realized that they did not exactly fit my style. After trying on a couple of dresses , I decided that a classic LBD would be the best pick for me.
My chosen Metrojaya outfit
After that, I was sent to do my hair. I was asked what hairstyle I wanted. I was quiet surprised actually because I thought that everything was pre-prepared and that I did not have a say in it. Having no idea what hairstyle fit me best (note: do research the next time round), I chose the hairstyle that I was most comfortable with ; messy big curls. Looking back, I partly regretted not thinking through my hairstyle. Looking at how the pictures turned out, as much as messy curls give me a sexy edge, I also realize that it made my already chubby face chubbier. You can check out a video here to have a better understanding of the environment in the studio on the day of the shoot.
After hair, I was sent to another station to do my make up. I remember as I was walking to the make up station, I passed by another finalist that I just had to take a double look at because she was so pretty! And this was even before she had any make up on. She later introduced herself to me as Tracey. Make up took a little over an hour and by that time, I had already been sitting for over 2 hours including the time to do my hair. I made a mental note to myself to bring a book to read the next time. I tried to past time by practicing my facial expressions on the mirror. When I got to look at the after product of my make up I was a little shocked. It had been a while since I had that much make up on my face. Under natural lighting it definitely looked like I had too much make up on but I understood that for studio shots where I was to be exposed to hard light, such heavy make up was essential. After hair and make up was done, I had to wait for my turn to be photographed.
A series of selfies before it was my turn to be photographed.
While waiting for my shoot I was approached by Josh Lim to shoot an introductory video. Nervous, I asked him what the video was going to be about, he answered me with "You'll find out soon" and brought out his digital camera. The video consist of a self introduction and me answering to questions like "How are you feeling?", "What preparations have you done?" and "What do you have to say to Malaysia" .
Another finalist, Yen Qi, being photographed while I was waiting for my turn
It was soon time for my beauty shoot. I was so nervous! I could actually feel my lips giving out a little shiver. What I had in mind for this shoot was to give the photographer many different angles and poses to show that I knew what I was doing. However, as I started changing my pose after every few 'clicks', the photographer mentioned to me that for the beauty shoot, he wanted 'beauty queen' like poses, meaning very composed and minimal movement. My bad! After that correction, the shoot got better and I was done in less than 5 minutes. Dato' Anna and Dwayne, the photographer was pleased.
Dwayne shooting Miko, another fellow finalist's beauty pictures.
Dato' Anna and her team looking on and choosing the best photos.
I then got changed into my Metrojaya sponsored outfit and waited for my turn to shoot. We were provided accessories by the stylist as well. My necklace however had a piece of 'diamond' missing. I mentioned this to the stylist and she asked me to reverse the necklace instead so that the back of it was showing. I felt that it looked quite odd and tried to cover the necklace with my hair (lol). Later I decided to take the necklace out. While waiting, I took the opportunity to practice my poses. I overheard the photographer saying that he wanted a 'fun' and 'easy going' feel for the series of photographs to come. I guess being tentative to your surroundings really does help because you get to pick up on hint and clues along the way. Halfway through the shoot, the stylist came over asking me to wear the necklace. I'm guessing she wanted to showcase it as well.
Pictures with Tracey, Miko, Vidi and Me while we were awaiting our turns to be photographed.
My on-going shoot in the outfit by Metrojaya
Vidi being photographed while I looked on.
I had the most fun in my third shoot because by that time, I had already warmed up to the environment and know what to expect. Also, my hairstylist allowed me to mess up my hair in order to give the photographs a sexier edge. Before the shoot, I was oiled up by the stylist with baby oil and the make up artist added some contouring powder to my chest to 'define it a little more'. I have to say, getting oiled up by another woman while a makeup artist casually applies make up on your chest is something that I did not foresee happening. By this time I was very comfortable with everyone on set and had the confidence to try more daring poses. I remember Dato' Anna reminding me 'Butt out! bring your butt out!' haha. The photographer mentioned to me that this shoot was to be more elegant and sexy than the two.
Throughout the photo shoot Dato' Anna reminded us to watch our diets and to work out regularly. There was a lot of emphasis on being the and some girls were even called to 'work harder' at loosing weight. I felt rather uncomfortable with this. There was this phrase that I read in The Rules of A Gentleman's Tumblr which says that praise should be done in public and corrections should be done in private. I guess this also goes to show that to be in pageants, you need to be open minded towards criticism and have a bit of a thick face.
So far, I did not notice anything fishy or dodgy going on as my friends and family had been concerned about. Although there were obviously more pictures being taken once the girls changed into the swimwear, I did not see anything to be worried about. I believe that it is partly a lot on how you present yourself. If you present yourself to be classy and professional, I doubt people would be that bold to try anything funny with you. And if it does happen, I already prepared myself to decline them in a way that will not offend them but at the same tie stand my ground. Hopefully in the future, I would not need to put this to use.
In between the shoots I was also called my Brian Lee of Like Media to record a couple of videos. The first was a self introduction, the second was a thank you message to the sponsors and supporters of Miss World Malaysia and third a world cup themed video. Many who know me well would know that I have zero interest in the world cup so this was a little out of my comfort zone for me. In the end, Brian had to actually give me pointers on what to say for the world cup video. When I asked him "but this is a pageant. how does it relate to world cup?" he replied me saying "With the world cup going on, at least people will be able to relate to you".
Behind the scenes selfie
Being silly with Nathaniel. He sat through the entire photo shoot with minimal whines and groaning.