The Miss Universe pageant is continuing this year despite contestants and judges which are bringing controversy, heartbreaking and inspirational stories to share. They range from one beauty that has fought breast cancer to a child with no parents who had to break both religious and also racial barriers to officials who are openly gay in the very anti-gay country of Russia.
All this is in the midst of 86 ladies from all around the world who will be challenging each other for the 2013 Miss Universe crown in Moscow on Saturday.
For Veneta Krasteva, who is Miss Bulgaria, getting to Moscow has been a tough challenge. About two years ago, when she was only 18, she was told that she had breast cancer. She explained that her tumor was found early because she went to her gynecologist for regular check-ups. She said that she began to notice one of her breasts was aching and she felt a lump in it.
Krasteva was the first person in her family to battle breast cancer. She stated it was terrible news and that she never believed it would happen to her. She had to endure two years of aggressive treatment, and had to put college on hold so she could stay focused on getting well. However, she is free of the cancer now at age 21. Her recovery took her some time, but after she fully recuperated, she was able to begin her life over again.
The beauty with the blonde hair won the 2013 Bulgaria Miss Universe title in September. She is hoping that if she wins the Miss Universe high title on Saturday, she will be able to educate others about breast cancer.
It is very important for every woman and definitely young girls to know it could happen to anyone, Krasteva said. Women have to do whatever they must to keep themselves protected and teach themselves on cancer symptoms.
Miss Bulgaria is not the only one who has been subject to very hard times and controversy. Titi Yitayish Ayanaw, who is Miss Israel, is originally from Ethiopia. She was an orphan who relocated to Israel when she was only 12 years old. This beauty was raised up by an aunt and now stays with her grandmother.
She went to school and then on to be in the Israeli army as an officer, but she still clung to her hopes of wanting to be a model. She had a friend who put her into a beauty pageant, and from there onward, Ayanaw, age 22, became the first black Miss Israel.
Ayanaw is hoping that if she wins the Miss Universe title, it will aid her in being a role model for young girls around her community. She stated how they are very proud of her, because she is their first beauty queen. She explained that the girls there see her photograph and become excited because it is the very first time they have seen an Ethiopian Jew on any magazine covers or in pictures. This makes the young girls believe in themselves. If she is able to win in Moscow, she said it would be history in the making.
Other history makers would be Moe Set Wine of Myanmar, age 25. She is the very first Miss Universe participant to represent the war-torn nation in about 53 years. Wine is hopeful that her participation in the Miss Universe competition will help to instruct the world about her often ignored home country, but she also feels she has some hindrances.
She stated that she feels somewhat unprepared, but she realizes this is her opportunity to let her country be in the spotlight. People will get to learn about Myanmar. She feels this is quite an honor she has been given.
The final part of the Miss Universe pageant will air on NBC on at 9 p.m. EST Sat., Nov. 9. The competition is being held for in Russia for the very first time, and will be at the Crocus Hall event venue in Moscow. It has already been through controversy as has been stated above. There is more, due in part to Russia’s strict anti-gay laws. MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, who is openly gay, is in the midst of the spectacle’s hosts, feels he has had to reply to all the critics who have told him he should have boycotted the competition and the country entirely.
Roberts stated that he felt the most vital thing is visibility and the LGBT community has the right to be fuming, but now is not the time to hide away, it is the time to be seen. It is also time to make sure a person shows his or her face and that he or she is visible, and that they are respected.
With all the respective attitudes of the above individuals, Miss Universe will not only continue despite controversy, the show will thrive.
By Kimberly Ruble