Catriona: A Head Turner
I WASN'T LOOKING UNTIL SHE DID THAT SLOW-MO.
BY RICA PERALEJO
I may get myself in trouble for the way I am about to start this blog. But I am sorry in advance to those who might be offended or feel differently, but I just have to say this because the rest of my opinion is actually based on this primary feeling about Miss Universe. The truth is: I do not approve of the pageant.
I find it as an oppressive arena where girls are lined up to be sized up according to the current standard of beauty the world has. Especially in the age of diversity, I find this so glaring and yet so many people continue to support it. However, I must face that I am a minority, and must settle to not kill the joy for those who truly enjoy it. Neither do I judge them, as I do see how entertaining it can be to see a roster of glistened limbs and chiseled abs and thighs strutting on a long runway. But as for me, I do not even look. I just cannot.
But then everyone says something about Catriona and that slow-mo turn. I couldn’t help but search and see what they were talking about and I was so intrigued! This started my internet research of the woman. The curiosity began with, “Is she a dancer? Because only dancers can move that way!” So eventually, information led me to understand that she is a creative person, she’s into the arts, she’s got some real advocacies going on, and all of her snippets and sound bytes reveal a rather smart and well-rounded woman.
In my search of who she is, I was surprised to have not paid much attention to her looks. Not because I didn’t want to but because something else about her caught my attention. I was drawn to the person of Catriona and not to her beauty. For the first time, I am looking at a beauty pageant candidate without any regard for her looks, just because the message of her life was speaking louder than her long legs, finely sculpted body, long hair, winning smile, and all that.
So in the end, she won. Everyone feels she deserves this. She really ought to be queen of the universe for all the right reasons: her entire life – from childhood to adulthood, her hard work, her sincere national pride, her generosity of spirit, her selfless aims for the title, her true work with the poor, her intentionality which reflected every step of the way, her answers, her physique, her confidence. She is amazing in that way, yes.
But to me, personally, Catriona wins because she had the humility to join such an oppressive contest, went with the flow, but also innovated from within. It was a typical swimsuit walk for all, but she turned like no other. Instead of how great she looked in her bikini, everyone was dumbstruck by that one of a kind pivot. This caught everyone’s attention and once all eyes were on her she kept rallying everyone to rally for her so she can win this for the nation. She wins and it seems she only wanted to for a larger purpose – to indeed use the platform for better things, far concerning situations of poverty and the next generation. Now I am not only looking at her, but I am also listening. I am forgetting about the whole pageant, but I am remembering her inspirational and engaging and igniting quality. This woman’s a leader, and not just a Miss Universe winner.
I say a leader as I was not even paying attention but she made me follow. Where I would be snobbish and turn my eyes away from things I find shallow and oppressive, she trudges through and causes her light to shine. She agrees to be part but only if she can tweak a little, and redefine from within. What I would simply call complicity in the beginning, she has shown to be a true work of a missionary. She joined the stereotyping, but also she changed things up a bit. Not sure of how intentional this was from her end, but she did it and that made me admire her. It feels like Miss U is a mere stepping-stone for her, whereby others might feel the crown is the end goal. My hunch is that she is happier she won because it will cause her to expand her capacity for generosity and influence for world change, more than she can claim that title for herself. Now that’s a Miss Universe cliché answer, but somehow, I feel it is all genuine for Catriona.
Now I can be wrong. I could be romanticizing her too much. But at least I am listening, and I am hoping.
So anyway, will I be supporting Miss Universe next year because of this? Maybe if there is another head turner in tow. By head turner I mean someone who can make me look that way because of a powerful innovation and reinvention of a rather oppressive contest. But I might, especially after hearing more and more candidates have focused more on personal substance instead of just beauty. (Vietnam in her pants and pixie +++ life’s journey!!!) But surely, I’d be watching and listening and praying for our own Catriona. That she will continue to get into circles no one dares to go and keep redefining standards and values from within! Congratulations, Miss Universe 2018! May God guide you to make good and godly use of this reign.