She juggles a job with her university work, travels around the world, and raises money for charities. Yes, Blaise Maisey is a former Miss World contestant, with brains AND beauty, and is eager to let the public know that there is more than meets the eye to pageant models. Bethany Fisher reports.
While hundreds of feminists across the country gathered outside London’s Miss World 2011 competition in protest against sexism, I meet former Miss World contestant, Miss Maisey, in between her busy schedule, at her family’s home in Preston, Lancashire.
Maisey is everything that a beauty queen is about; tall and slim with gorgeous features. Even though she admits she is ‘dressed down’ today, her golden waves and perfect makeup tell me differently. Having spent the majority of her life in pageants, she still believes there is more to life than just beauty. Her number one priority in competing is to help others, and it is clear she still has the strong morals that she got from her mother as a child.
Starting at a young age of 12, Miss Maisey began competing in pageants that raised funds for children. Since then, she got hooked on competing and enjoyed helping less fortunate people. Maisey’s mother was also a contestant when she was younger, and won the title of Miss Honduras, as well as winning the title Cong in Miss Universe, all raising money for different charities. She inspired her daughter to compete, but to also keep her strong values and ambitions.
“Pageants are about more than just a pretty face”
Miss Maisey entered as Miss El Salvador at 18, and became Miss Honduras at 19, and said that the experience was once in a lifetime. As she gazed out the window, she admitted that she wanted to do something different with her life, and so took the opportunity, but kept reminding herself everyday who she was. Since then she has travelled from South America to Preston in England, so that she could go to University and pursue her dreams of working in fashion, while working at a competitive company in the city centre, NCO Europe, which requires her native language.
The Miss World competition has been around for years, but it still attracts protesters, especially recently when it was held in London. Women from Object and UK Feminista stood outside the competition, showing their disapproval to women competing for looks. Looking like she’s heard it all before, Maisey laughs and responds that it’s better people talking good or bad about you than none at all, however it is sad how people misjudge all pageants, as not all pageants are the same.
Julia Long, from Object, has said that their organisation objects to Miss World, as it is profoundly sexist because it is based on the fundamental notion that women are to be valued and judged on their physical appearance. Miss Maisey completely disagrees, and points out that Miss World promotes charities all around the world, and is not showing any nudity and is promoting a better good. The pageant princess has spent a lot of her time getting to know the models in contests, and has found out that they weren’t always as lucky in life. The winner of this year’s Miss World went to a woman from Venezuela who had a rough upbringing, who lost her family when she was a child and lived in poverty. Maisey adds that pageants are about more than just a pretty face, as the winner’s life has not been easy, but from this she has become a role model for young girls who think they can’t achieve. “Just because you’re beautiful it doesn’t mean you don’t have brains” Julia Long said that the contest perpetuates a very stereotypical image of so-called beauty, which costs a lot of money, effort and pain to maintain. While she sighs and rolls her eyes, Maisey admits she used to be in shock of how pretty each candidate looked and wanted to be like them, but after getting to know them, she noticed they weren’t that different from herself. While she looks at me directly in the eye, Maisey agrees that you have to be pretty to compete, but beauty is unique, and that the perfect image only exists in your mind. Maisey, who is currently studying at University for a fashion degree, knows what it is like to live on a budget. The beauty contestant spends a typical amount of money on her appearance just like every other woman, including for when she competes. And no she doesn’t have a walk in wardrobe. I checked. While pointing to a pile of messy clothes on her chair, Maisey expresses that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on shoes, jewellery and clothes, as beauty is learning how to work with what you have. The media and the public are generally quite quick to presume that models are shallow and stupid, but after talking to this beauty queen, I can confirm that we are wrong. Maisey thinks that the world believes all contestants are airheads, when in reality they are women who have studied at Harvard University, worked all their lives with charities, and have their own businesses. After confidently flicking her hair, and tapping away at her Blackberry, Maisey added that just because you’re beautiful it doesn’t mean you don’t have brains.
What controversies hit Headlines during previous Miss World competitions?
Leona Gage, was disqualified in 1957 after her mother in law revealed that she was in her second marriage, had two children and was 18, not 21.
In 1961, Rosemarie Frankland became the first Miss UK to win Miss World. However, she became obsessed with the beauty pageants and suffered depression, where sadly she ended her life in 2000 from a drug overdose.
In 1965, Lesley Langley was able to keep hold of her crown – just, after nude photos emerged in tabloids. She now works for a dental company in her hometown in the UK.
Marjorie Wallace won Miss World in 1973, but had her title taken away from her after dating some celebrities and claiming she could sleep with any man she wanted.
In 1974, Helen Morgan resigned four days after winning Miss World after the media portrayed her as scandalous for having a son as well as being divorced.
Gabriella Brum had her title stripped after just 18 hours, in 1980, as nude photos of herself were leaked to the press. She later modelled for playboy.
Valérie Bègue was banned from Miss World after controversial photos were leaked to a magazine, featuring the French model being photographed on a crucifix, and eating suggestive food.
Laxmi Pandit won Miss India, but was stripped of her title just hours after the competition, after claiming she was single, when she had recently bought a marital home in Mumbai.
In 1991, Miss kansas: Kelli McCarty, won Miss USA , however recently she has turned from model to actor– in porn films.