The ‘Miss Universe’ Beauty Pageant

Fashion and global cultures come together to demonstrate ‘beauties can have brains too’

The Miss Universe contest undoubtedly is the grandest beauty pageant in the world. Each year contestants from pretty much around the globe compete and showcase their talent, their country’s culture and what, over the years, I have come to regard the beauty pageant to be a celebration of: ‘beauties can have brains too’. It’s really been a mixed bag of winners for the American beauty pageant but, overwhelmingly, they have been from countries whose cultures I have always loved to immerse myself in.

I think when the big question of diversity is thrown into the picture for a beauty pageant originating in the West, I feel that the greatest example of diversity is always demonstrated by a plethora of winners from South America and India. I know it’s been demonstrated by three African countries previously, as well: Angola (in 2011), Namibia (in 1992) and Botswana (in 1999), which was an interesting display of African culture for the international beauty pageant, especially with Botswana because the year it won was also the first time the country had entered itself in the beauty pageant.

But when it comes to exotic favourites, I have always liked to see India win. In 1994, Sushmita Sen became the first Indian woman to be crowned Miss Universe, and it was a magnificent moment – India’s always been a hot favourite with me for the country’s ability to break through societal and cultural barriers for the Miss Universe contest and demonstrate that beauty can be diversified and be equally compelling.

Bollywood @ Cannes 2017

White, yellow and red…how three Bollywood stars defined fashion at Cannes this year

The breathtaking display of gowns at the French Riviera once again saw its annual addition of Bollywood glamour, with an interesting display of stars and their costume selections. It’s hard to pick favourites but I liked Deepika Padukone’s ensemble presentations, the most, for its very striking colour choices. Meanwhile, Sonam Kapoor managed to startle because I found she looked ravishing in a nude-coloured gown, but the most surprising thing this year was perhaps that Aishwarya Rai, a regular at the Cannes circuit, had really managed to put a good fashion foot forward and avoid any fashion missteps, unlike a fair few times in the past.

Deepika Padukone

Day-2 Cannes 2017 @brandonmaxwell @elizabethsaltzman @lorealmakeup @lorealhair

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@deepikapadukone and @ellefanning soak in the warm sun at Cannes #LifeAtCannes 🏖

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Day-1 Cannes 2017 @marchesafashion @georginachapmanmarchesa @kerencraigmarchesa @elizabethsaltzman @lorealmakeup @lorealhair

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Hello Morning…😊 #Cannes2017 @lorealmakeup @lorealhair

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taking it all in… #Cannes2017 @lorealmakeup @lorealhair

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Sonam Kapoor

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Aishwarya Rai

This Moment 💙💥💙#lifeatcannes #70yearsofcannesfestival #lorealparisindia #aishwaryaraibachchan @michael5inco

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#AishwaryaRaiBachchan's bright lips are a definite Cannes win 👄 #LifeAtCannes

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Life At Cannes 💞 #lorealparisindia #Cannes2017 #aishwaryaraibachchan

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Stunner ❤️❤️❤️

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India’s Page 3 Culture

Recently, the televised chat show Koffee with Karan concluded its fifth season, and the show had included some stars whose work I tend to like, such as Shahid Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan, in what seems like a growing sea of ‘Page 3’ random faces. But what is this ‘Page 3’? Page 3 culture in India is associated with tabloid coverage of parties and high society/high class activities. On the surface, it looks pretty normal (and even a tad bit mundane) – Page 3 is just India’s answer to tabloid journalism and all the stars who appear in it. But Page 3 has sensationalism attached to it and is regarded as something of a phenomenon, which is tough to grasp really – it’s just a colourful spread of gossip and stars in tabloid newspapers, and nothing else.

Page 3 is filled with celebrities, whose work or societal contribution has managed to grab attention, they need that recognition, and they also need to be entertaining enough for aristocrats, or for middle-class families, who deserve to be entertained every morning when they open their newspapers and turn to Page 3.

I think in India sensationalism is attached to what should simply be regarded as gossip journalism and nothing else, no matter how scandalous a star’s latest life story is. Sometimes it’s an eyesore: I don’t think it’s very interesting to learn about people I normally don’t like to work with on a regular basis. Another facet to the whole ‘Page 3’ story is that people aren’t always very candid and upfront about a large part of their lives that everyone may be able to see on Page 3.

I don’t like to go round and round with the same sets of confusion as lovers of that ridiculous aspect of Page 3 culture might: I think actresses, for example, really should be more open when their careers haven’t really gone anywhere, even though they began with a bang (somewhat). Is that really so hard to do – not pretend to be something they are not? I would guess not but some people really take fakeness to another level. In my world itself, composed of actresses I find interesting, not every actress in town has had the same lengthy (and legendary) career trajectory as industry veterans, such as Hema Malini and Jaya Bachchan, and it’s so obvious.

There isn’t always a lot of clarity on every aspect of this Page 3 culture, however, which begs the question of what kind of a role model these celebrities really roll themselves out to be for people who like to tune into their glittering lives, round the clock. Stars, or successful people in the public eye, have the good life, they are well-known and they know how to balance a lot of work, with a healthy dose of fun – people want to incorporate all of that into their own lives, as well, which is why they are good role models. I doubt Page 3 appeals to readers for those exact reasons because it is really for people who want to appear on it to be heard, to be seen and to be famous; aside from that celebrity bandwagon, Page 3 is really truly meant for faithful followers of Bollywood gossip.

Zamindars From The Bengal Presidency

Growing up, I have always had the fortune to visit my grandfather’s agricultural estate. It was mainly vast amounts of lush land in colours of yellow, green, orange and the rare red, situated close to India’s borders. The episodes were boring and I spent most of my time daydreaming about the landscape and about history episodes I found very interesting, such as the Second World War.

Whenever I think of those moments today, I get reminded about the landed gentry in the United Kingdom and zamindars in India and Bangladesh. My maternal great-grandparents were zamindars, so it’s hard to not think about how the two classes are so different from each other, and yet so alike – it’s astonishing, to say the least.

The landed gentry is a social class in the United Kingdom, comprising of land owners. They were not aristocrats (mainly, upper class people in their respective countries) but they were in possession of large amounts of lands, from which they would earn an income. Meanwhile, a zamindar, used to be an aristocrat but the system no longer exists in Bangladesh because of its abolition in the fifties, following Bangladesh’s independence from the United Kingdom.

In addition to that awful abolition, during my great-grandfather Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s tenure as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, the abolishment of what could be regarded as the zamindari ‘class’ – it used to divide the society into various segments, such as lords etc., was carried forward with entirely.

Zamindars were aristocrats in the Indian subcontinent and they had control over large amounts of lands, as well as peasants from whom they would collect taxes. During Mughal rule in India and Bangladesh, zamindars were appointed to collect income from peasants and zamindars in Bengal particularly, were people who had lands, or were peasant-owners etc.

The Bengal Presidency, when the British still ruled in the Indian subcontinent, comprised Singapore, Burma, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh.

Bengal makes up: West Bengal in India and Bangladesh, and the zamindars of Bengal (or the zamindars of the Bengal Presidency) were enormous in Bengal’s villages. They became prominent, during British colonial rule in India and Bangladesh, all because of the opportunities provided by the British in the two countries, which at the time was the one singular state of India; the British Raj was truly one of the greatest empires in the world.

Why More Young Girls Should Go To School

In many countries around the world, young girls constantly feel prejudice because of their gender, particularly for education. Although, countries such as Bangladesh and Ukraine have been able to majorly improve education attainment (plus, enrollment rates), the picture in every country in the world isn’t this bright: be it Iraq or India, the situations highlighted for a drop in denial to access in education, range from poverty to early child marriage, and many states are failing to push through important change.

There are many reasons why providing easier access to education for young girls should be a priority for governments: equipped with basic education skills, a young woman will be able to command her health needs, protect herself from incidents of domestic violence and gender-based exploitation, and also act as a patron of gender equality.

Women’s rights should always be put first, because without it women will not be able to perform the simplest of tasks, such as even play a part in their local democratic climates. Education helps women to become power figures in the world, and stand at par with men. It also provides women with the opportunity to make key public decisions and policy pushes, which outline providing accessible (and adaptable) education for young girls.

Women need help both at home and at work: education can inform young women on contraception, on why it is a good idea to build smaller families, and simply lead healthier lives. Furthermore, when more girls complete secondary school, the national growth rate also increases but at the moment there is still a gap inbetween the level of education amongst boys and girls.

What are needed are better schools and more girls in secondary schools because already there is a disparity in education attainment rate in the midst of girls who finish primary schools and those girls that finish secondary schools. Improving people’s awareness on why educating women is a novel idea can also start to break down barriers erected in societies, where normally men receive a higher degree of education than women to make them suitable for jobs and an income.

Bangladesh, for example, has made significant strides in the subject of women gaining the necessary education to join the national workforce, but even then, when it comes to dropping out of secondary schools, girls are exposed to a greater amount of risk than boys. There is a national shortage of female teachers in the country, in spite of its positive relationship with school attainment (plus, enrollment) rates for young girls; in Bangladesh, the improvement in the education sector has all been part of a national expansion plan introduced in the nineties, which had increased public spending for education and also created better schools.

What To Wear: A Summer Picnic

What To Wear: A Summer Picnic