Society: "Miss" en masse: Vietnam's beauty business

With tears of joy in their eyes and glittering crowns on their heads, Dinh Nhu Phuong and Kim Ngan gracefully thank the judges and audience.

Society: "Miss" en masse: Vietnam's beauty business

With tears of joy in their eyes and glittering crowns on their heads, Dinh Nhu Phuong and Kim Ngan gracefully thank the judges and audience. The young women have just been crowned "Miss" at beauty pageants in Vietnam. The special feature: The final shows of "Miss Vietnam Sea and Island 2022" and "Miss Global Vietnam 2022" were held almost simultaneously - a sign of how the number of "Beauty Contests" in the country on the Mekong has increased miraculously for some time. "Two beauty queens in one night - isn't that a bit too much?" headlined the newspaper "VnExpress" the next day.

The newspaper spoke from the heart of many Vietnamese. Because the lucrative business with beauty pageants is getting out of hand. Ten years ago there was only a handful of competitions that people knew by name. These include the prestigious titles "Miss Vietnam" and "Miss Universe Vietnam", in which the participant in the global "Miss Universe" competition is determined. And today? This year, the Ministry of Culture has already officially approved 22 beauty contests. The names of the events are mostly just as obscure as the meaning of the dazzling spectacle.

Glitz and glamor everywhere

"I used to watch these shows for the glitz and glamor but now there are too many for me to keep up with," wrote Facebook user Trinh Nguyen. Another said, "Two beauty queens in one night is too much. I've never even heard of Miss Vietnam Sea and Island and Miss Global Vietnam." A third quipped, "If this continues, in a few years all Vietnamese men will be marrying a beauty pageant winner or runner-up."

But where is the boom coming from? "One of the reasons for this is that the government passed new rules in 2020," said historian and journalist Duong Trung Quoc, who sat on the jury for "Miss Vietnam Sea and Island". All provinces now have the right to organize beauty pageants. "We have 63 provinces and all of them are allowed to hold competitions now." Most would be funded by private companies. "But they bring economic benefits for entire regions, especially in terms of tourism and investment," said Quoc of the German Press Agency.

light and shadow

Above all, the sponsors want their share of the cake. "When a miss is crowned, she often becomes the face of the company that paid for the contest," says Quoc. Poorly organized shows also mean that the organizers could lose their reputation - and then there would be no more financial injections for future competitions. It is important to find "worthy" beauty queens who can contribute to the country's development and strengthen its reputation. And who really deserved the title "Miss".

But that's the crux of the matter, because quantity is known not to equal quality. "Although there are so many beauty queens, it is still very difficult to find qualified candidates to represent the country in international competitions," VietnamNet said in a comment. Vietnamese contestants in global beauty pageants often lacked self-confidence and appeared immature and inexperienced. After all, it's not just about the body and appearance, but also about intelligence, talent and virtue.

Bare skin and long legs

However, if you take a look at the bikini competition at "Miss Sea and Island 2022", you will see bare skin and long legs. What is hidden behind the beautiful exterior seems rather irrelevant. "The number of competitions is increasing, but their quality is controversial," says Nguyen Thuy Dung, who works for a car company in the capital Hanoi and has followed the shows with interest for years. "Many candidates today don't have much to offer apart from physical beauty."

Ten years ago she knew the names of the competition winners by heart, as did many of her compatriots. "After their victory, these beauty queens have made many positive contributions to the community, such as charitable activities," says Dung. That's different now. One can hardly count the many "Miss". "It's all out of balance, and that's not good," she says.

Meanwhile, under the article in the newspaper "VnExpress" there were comments. The topic obviously moves the Vietnamese. "Whether it's beauty pageants or modeling contests, it's just a faster way for women to get a better life and an income," wrote one. "It's a business like any other. Who cares how many shows there are?" Another complained that the whole thing had reached ridiculous proportions and said the candidates all look the same today. A third smirked: "I find cat shows much more interesting."