We were told to meet at Corus Hotel at 11am.
A couple days before, we were reminded by email to bring along tall heels and our sponsored swimming attire. Dato' Anna informed us that we will be wearing our swimming costume during the press conference so we should all be in shape by then.
We weren't told if the press conference was open to the public so I asked Dato' Anna personally by email. She said that I could invite my friends and family to come along. I later found out that some girls thought that it was a private event the entire time.
I was thinking about waking up just in time to leave but Nathaniel talked me into a session at the gym before we hit off. I'm sure glad I did, it really made a difference. I felt my body was tighter throughout the day. It wasn't even a long or intense session, I just did about 20 mins of running and another 15 mins of weights.
A random picture because I thought this was getting too wordy.
I wore a semi formal dress. We weren't told about what to wear, I just thought it would be nice to wear a dress. I also brought along two pairs of heels just in case. I did not wear any makeup and had shampooed and conditioned my hair in the morning.
Most of the girls had already arrived when I reached. We were introduced to two more girls who were not able to make it for the photo shoot and previous visits. They were Gurmesh and Cheryl. I instantly liked Cheryl. She was very elegant and composed. I mean it's not like the rest of the girls weren't but Cheryl carried a certain aura with her which shouts "I'm a woman!!". I'm sure all the girls would agree as well. She was very easy to talk to.
L-R: Olivia, Gurmesh,Vidi, Tracey, Lisa and Rebecca chatting while waiting for hair and make up
During the official photo shoot, Dato' Anna mentioned that we were allowed to pick our own roommates for pageant booth camp. Some girls took the opportunity to find their roommates during this time. I had already paired up with another fellow Ipoh-ian, Yen Qi, during the photo shoot. I wanted to have a meet up over tea with her to get the ball rolling during my trips back to Ipoh but never had the time too. However, she's a really easy going person and our friendship hit it off really fast.
Ipoh Pride. Yen Qi and I
I was one of the first girls to get their hair done and was caught by a bit of a surprise when the hairstylist put my hair up in a high ponytail. Ponytails do not look good on everyone so of course the rest of girls were surprised as well. We kept on asking "Can we style our hair differently?" , "Must everyone have the same hairstyle?". Rebecca and I were trying to be smart about it. We both instantly went to our phones and started to Google different variations of a high ponytail. But to our disappointment, the hairstylist was really adamant about everyone getting the same hairstyle.
When Dato' Anna came in to check on us, we asked if we could have our hair done differently. At first she said she was okay with the idea, but she later checked with the hairdressers and did not get so good news. Vincent Ho, the Managing Director for Kimarie Salons, who was also one of the bigger sponsors for the pageant wanted all the girls to have the same hairstyle so that we only had our facial beauty to rely on than to mask it with our hair. I think that was very fair.
After hair, I moved onto the next room for makeup. Other girls were already getting their make up done so I had to wait for a bit. We were told to "choose" a make up artist and wait in line. I saw that there was only one male make up artist in a room full of female ones and thought that if you're the only male in a generally female industry, you should be pretty good so I stuck with him.
Picture stolen from Rebecca. Even though we had a lot to do, it was a great time for all the girls to catch up.
Dato' Anna passed out our Miss Malaysia World Sashes while I was getting my makeup done. Getting it had to be one of the highlights of the day. I did not make it far enough in Miss Malaysia Universe to get a sash so this was a first time for me and definitely something that I have been waiting for a long time. Dato' Anna told us that we had the option of keeping it after the press conference or letting her keep it. I was like "No way am I ever giving this back. Think of all the selfies I can do with this" (No Shame). The girls who were bringing their sashes back were told to keep really good care of them because we were only given one throughout the pageant.
Lisa getting her makeup done
After Hair and Make Up, we changed into our swimming costumes. I was one of the first girls to get ready so I had quite some time on my hand before the press conference started. I thought I'd use my time wisely. I went out to the area where we will be walking to familiarize myself with the floor. Walking in heels are generally a challenge for me so I wanted to eliminate any other possibilities of me falling on my face.
The location for the Press Conference. The swimming pool of Corus Hotel
By this time, I was really hungry. I had time to go to the gym, but I had not eaten anything. And I did not bring anything to eat as well. I'm so thankful that Dato' Anna ordered some finger sandwiches for us. I must have eaten 50% of them and was still hungry! To all future pageant queens, bring food!
I also used my time to get to know the people working behind the pageant. I made friends with the event planner as well as Dato' Anna's PAs. Other girls were doing PR of their own as well. Olivia for example managed to have a short photoshoot with one of the bts photographers, the pictures turned out amazing. I think it's really important to always be aware of your surroundings and what more you can do. Instead of just sitting around waiting for time to past, you can do so much more that could help you in the competition.
Some of the media arrived early as well so I thought it would be good to introduce myself to them and get acquainted. This really helps because you not only make a new friend, but the more you make an impression, the more they write about you. I noticed that beer was being served to the attendees so I had to remind myself not to be overly friendly with them.
Me disturbing Vidi while waiting for the rest of the girls to be finished with hair and make up
We were then visited by Ben Ibrahim, the emcee for the day. The first thing he said was
"I'm a guy coming in. I hope everyone is decent! My eyes are closed. Is everyone decent?!?"
Ben introduced himself to all the girls and briefed us about the day's rundown. We were told that we would have to change out of our swimming costumes in the middle of the press conference because some local newspapers could not publish pictures of girls wearing bathing suits. This of course caught us by surprise. We all had been under the impression that we would only be wearing a swimming suit so some of the girls came with casual clothes. I was lucky enough to "be in the mood" to wear a dress that day or I would have arrived in shorts and a tee. Some girls were lucky to have their friends and family get clothes from home just in time before the press conference started while other girls worked with what they had on.
Ben Ibrahim, the emcee for the day
I like Ben. He is really straight forward and tells you everything as it is. When we asked Ben for advise, he told us "Don't be scared, and don't be a bitch". He told us that such advise may have came out too strong but it's the truth. He had been part of the pageant last year and did not want to see the same shenanigans / drama happen.
Dato' Anna joined the brief and told us that we were to introduce ourselves one by one and tell the crowed something about ourselves. Some girls were nervous about this. I wasn't at all scared. I know talking is one of my strengths. I think I was way more nervous about falling down while walking. Ben did not agree with that. He said all of us girls would take too long and the crowd would be bored. It seemed like there wasn't a plan yet, or if there was, it wasn't really agreed on. I think this rubbed off a bit on the girls and many of us started feeling uncertain and nervous, Dato' Anna and Ben proceeded to have a private discussion.
While we waited to be briefed we were introduced to Melinder Bhullar, the winner of Miss World Malaysia 2013. She was quiet at first but as some girls started to converse with her, she became more bubbly. While she got her hair and makeup done, she answered all the questions we had for her. They were all rather on the surface questions like "Has it been fun being Miss Malaysia?" and "What is your favourite part about it?". I think this is because this was the first time we were meeting her and hadn't gotten acquainted properly yet.
Ben Ibrahim came back into the room and told us about some changes. We were no longer suppose to introduce ourselves. Instead, we were just suppose to do out catwalks, pose for the media and then get interviewed by them personally.
Dato' Anna then called for all the girls to come to the poolside. We were going to be given a really fast crash course on doing the catwalk by L'Oreal, the first runner up for Miss World Malaysia 2013. Some of the girls were still getting their hair and make up done. I could see Dato' Anna was getting annoyed at how long everyone was taking to assemble.
L'Oreal and Melinder
L'Oreal was really friendly and outgoing. She introduced herself to us and went to business straight away asking all of us to demonstrate our walks to her. I was so nervous, but L'Oreal managed to do it without making any of the girls feel awkward. Previously I had already practised my walk but I never had professional training. All the help I got was through YouTube instructional videos and watching the VS fashion show (No shame) . I practised a thousand times in front of Nathaniel and a million times in front of a full length mirror but I never knew if I was doing it right.
I know there are different types of walks. Elegant, Casual,and Swim Suit. I bet there are more but these are the 3 walks that every pageant girl needs to master. Catwalks are not my strength. I always tell myself that if I smile wide enough and look pretty enough, no one is going to notice my walk. But I could not fool L'Oreal. She mentioned that I bounced too much and it made me look amateur and all over the place. When we all walked in a line, you could see my head going up and down because of my bounce. I wish L'Oreal could spend more time teaching us, but Dato' Anna was rushing everything so we only had very limited time to pick things up. I would say the whole lesson only lasted 30 minutes.
L'Oreal and Ben speaking about the day's rundown
I really wished that we were given prior training before we were introduced to the media. I understand that everyone should come into the competition already prepared but all the girls came from different experiences. It would have been great if we we all given proper lessons on how to walk, carry ourselves and talk to the media days before the press conference so we had enough time to practice. I mean, we are carrying the Miss Malaysia World sash after all, so it does reflect back on the organisation. For girls who are really in it to win it, I would advise you to seek professional help months before the pageant. That's one thing that I regretted not doing.
L'Oreal giving us a really fast crash course in walking
Rehearsals started. We practiced walking, how to stand and pose. We were suppose to walk in groups around the pool , pose at all the sides and then assemble in front of the stage for a group photo. We did it for about 5 times and then we were told to practice on our own. Even though it was just a rehearsal, I felt like we were being judged by Dato' Anna. My group and I did some practicing together as to where to pose and when to walk. We decided to pose in the same direction so it would be easier for the photographers.
Us at rehearsals. Cassie seems always ready for a photo opt!
My group consisted of Cheryl, Claire, Me , Mabel and Ruth
Ben Ibrahim went up to each girl to ask for her particulars. He wanted our name, age and something interesting about ourselves. I remembered Mabel telling him that she had previously worked as a flight attendant. To me that seemed pretty interesting, but Ben told her that it was a "Normal pageant answer". He said he wanted something " Fun, interesting and would catch people off guard". I instantly started thinking about mine, When it finally came to my turn I said "Sabrina Chan, 22 years old, a classical trained pianist" and cringed in hopes that Ben would not call me out. I was surprised that he replied "Now, that's interesting!". To be honest, if I had more time I think I would have came up with a better answer. I mean I do have my grade 8 piano cert, but I got it kicking and screaming.
Ben taking down all the girl's details to be announced during the press conference
Dato' Anna positioning all of us for the photo opt.
L-R: Me, Olivia, Lisa, Su Sien and Claire. Guess who's the shortest in the picture?
Look at those sky high heels!
We were then told that our designers who would be making our gowns for Crowning night were coming to take our measurements. All the girls drew lots and I was assigned to Alvin Tay from Alvin Tay Couture. All the girls did a swift measurement with the designers and was asked to get ready for the press conference.
The girls getting measured by their allocated designers for crowning night.
Previously, I had informed my make up artist that I had a number of visible scars on my thighs. I asked if he would be willing to help me to cover them up . He agreed and while doing my touch up, he tried his best to make my legs look flawless. The scars were still visible but in a glace, you would not be able to detect it. I was expecting to get oiled up for the press conference just like during the photo shoot but did not. I should have brought my own baby oil. Oil makes your body look more shinny and tighter especially under sunlight.
Me waiting to get touched up by the make up artist
The press conference started and everything went as planned. Seconds before I walked out, my heart was pumping so fast. There was so much going on in my mind. Was I walking correctly? Was I bouncing too much? Was my smile and posture alright? Mabel and I pumped each other up only to realize that we were too pumped up and had to calm each other down later.
The first walk we did was in our swimming attire. Ben Ibrahim did a short introduction for all of us as we had earlier discussed. I did not say my group did outstanding but we did the best that we could at the short time that was given, I really wish we had more time to practice! One thing I noticed was that even though we were posing at the same direction, our bodies would be turned at different angles and out legs were positioned differently. In my opinion, this made things look really messy.
L-R: Cheryl, Claire, Me, Mabel and Ruth
The girls and I posing with our sponsors. Can you spot me?
What the other side of the camera looks like
We then proceeded to change to our casual clothes for the more conservative papers to take pictures of us. Looking back at the pictures, I really have to laugh at how uncoordinated all our clothes were. Some of us were in formal wear, while others just wore really casual attire. The press must have been puzzled. But we weren't to be blamed, we were told that we were only going to be wearing swimwear. Either ways, we all managed to pull it off. I just hoped we made a good impression to the press.
Mabel and I after our change. Isn't her red dress gorgeous??
Us in our "formal" attire, still looking smashing though ;)
After that taking pictures, Ben told the media that they were now free to interview whichever girls they wanted. Brian Lee , a sponsor, and what seemed to be Dato' Anna's PA asked the girls to stand in a line to be "chosen" by the reporters. The next thing that happened is something that I would never forget. I remembered very clearly Brian telling the media:
"Okay, you see all this girls in the row. You just choose which girl you like and then tell me the number and I'll bring the girl to you"
Some people might say that I am being overly sensitive, but this brought me back to memories of a prostitution ring that I visited in Bangkok once. All the girls were lined up and the "customers" would come, take a look at them and tell the agents which girl he wanted.
It wasn't a good feeling. As a pageant queen, I want to be addressed like a lady, and respected as one as well. If one of our own people would address us in such a way, what more would the media think of us? Also, I felt like such a situation made it awkward for the girls. I don't know about them, but I instantly felt like I needed to smile bigger or appear more friendly in hopes of being chosen by the reporter. And how about the girls that were not chosen? How would that make them feel?
I believe that there was a better way to do this. Maybe split all the girl in groups and send the reporters to different groups? That way, every girl gets a fair chance.
Dato' Anna did select a couple of girls to be reported by the media but then her attention diverted to something else, which left the rest of us to be 'chosen'.
A reporter from a Chinese paper came up to Bryan and asked if a couple of us could change back to our swimming attire for her to take pictures. I volunteered together with a couple of girls and we all headed back to the rooms to change.
After changing the reporter asked me and the rest of the girls if we could sit by the pool. The first thing that came to my mind was "Oh no, I hope this is not going to turn into one of those dodgy photo shoots". I sensed that some of the girls were uncomfortable with this idea as well. By then, a couple of other photographers had also joined in. We told them that we didn't want to sit because we didn't want to get wet, but Brian and the rest of the photographers told us to try our best. Overall, the very short shoot was awkwardly uncomfortable for me but the pictures turned out well.
The entire time while smiling, what was going through my head was "What am I doing? Do I look good? Wait, do I even want to look good for them? What if this turns into one of those slutty shoots? Ugh, this is getting awkward. But I need to keep smiling. Is this over yet?"
We then proceeded to mingle with the crowd, many of them took the time to take pictures with us. Conversation was rather general. "What's your name? How old are you? Are you a student?" . No one asked why I wanted to join the pageant, what my passions and goals were, or about my life story. I guess I was expecting a different type of crowd to be there.
Xiaomi, Orange, Me and Amelia with Kelvin Sing, a photographer.
The girls wanted to do the "1,2,3,4 pose" and I was like "No girls just.NO" :P
I even remember a group of men who were heavily drinking at the press conference get a little rowdy. I walked past them to meet my friends and got whistled at. WHO DOES THAT? Further more at a pageant press conference. As much as I wanted to give them a lesson on how they should respect women, I was reminded by the girls that they were sponsors and if I wanted to make it far in the competition, I had some serious ass kissing to do. I could not bring myself to introduce myself to them,I would not degrade myself just to get an extra edge in the competition.
Overall, It was a goodish event. But the entire time, I got the vibe that I was just something to look at. I didn't feel like the elegant , intelligent lady that pageant queens are portrayed to be.
The press conference ended and everyone left by 3 in the afternoon. I was so glad we were provided with a tiny buffet and just as most of the media left, the girls attacked the buffet.
Before ending the post, I just want to give a quick shout out to these 3 men who took the time out that day to give me moral support. Having you guys there definitely calmed my nerves. And I could not have asked for a better groupie (yes, that's what you guys are now :P ). But in all seriousness, having a familiar face there really helped guys, so a big thank you for being there for me.
Victor, the cousin who is always there to give me life advice.
"Yes, growing up sucks, too bad"
Khairie, the best buddy who always has a listening ear and forever has something new up his sleeves.
"Come, we go Genting for a one day trip. I have a surprise there for you"
Nathaniel, the apple of my eye who never fails to annoy me
"If I see a prettier girl at the press conference can I ask for her number?"
PS: Later in the week, pictures of the press conference was put on social media. There were pictures of me with one of my eyelash extensions coming off. Members of the public commented on the pictures saying that it showed that I was "not ready for the pageant", and that "pageant queens are fake because they wear too much make up". I mean, it was a hot day and there was so much moving to be done with the closet change, something like that was bound to happen. My make up artist did a great job.
Is one eyelash extension out of its place really that bad? I mean, what's worse, uneven eyelashes or me being a psychopath?
I understand my updates are coming really slowly.
If you are thinking about joining Miss World Malaysia 2015 and would like to ask me and the rest of the girls questions personally, drop me an email at email@example.com . We are more than willing to share our experience with all of you.
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