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Is there beauty queen 'inflation' in Vietnam?

Phan Hoang Thu, Miss Southeast Asia, felt both sad and funny when hearing from a singer that “In Vietnam, the fastest way to become an A-class star is to attend beauty contests.”

Beauty queen contests mushroom

On March 25, 2021, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism organized a conference to explain the government’s Decree 144 on performing arts management. One of the most noteworthy features of the decree is that the organization of beauty contests is allowed to be done by people’s committees of cities and provinces, and organizers don’t have to ask for permission from the Department of Performing Arts.

The licensing for Vietnamese to participate in international contests has also been removed. Instead, contestants just have to satisfy some requirements, such as having invitations from contest organizers, not violating laws and not being in a period of suspension. The decree also doesn’t set a limit on the number of people attending beauty contests. 

After the decree, which ‘unties’ beauty contests, was pursued, the contests began to mushroom.

Nearly 20 beauty contests have been organized or have been announced to be organized, including Miss Fitness Vietnam, Miss Vietnam Tourism Global, Miss Universe Business, Miss Eco Vietnam and others.

Beauty queens say that their lives have changed overnight. Do My Linh said she was shy and rarely participated in community activities until she became Miss Vietnam 2016. She has been to many places, had a lot of experience and learned much from people, so she now feels more confident and wants to contribute more to the community.

Nawat Itsaragrisil, President of Miss Grand International, surprised fans when revealing that Thuy Tien, 2022 Miss Grand International, can earn nearly 100 million baht, or VND70 billion, just three months after being crowned.

Later, Pham Kim Dung, president of Miss Grand Vietnam, said the figure is not correct, but affirmed that Tien has had many contracts since then.

Phan Hoang Thu said with the crown, beauty queens can catch attention from the public and can work in more favorable conditions. However, this sometimes brings disadvantages.

“In many cases, they pretend to work with me just because they try to create opportunities to make an acquaintance and flirt with me,” Thu said.

According to Thu, many young girls only see the glitter of the crown, but cannot see the pressure and temptations. A lot of beauty queens are born, but only a few of them can protect their reputation.

Quality of beauty contests

What are the beauty contests for? How many beauty queens does Vietnam need to popularize Vietnamese beauties and Vietnamese people to the world? These are questions raised by many people.

There are many beauty contests, but the quality is not equal. Nguyen The Hung, Doctor of Aesthetics, said he refused to work as a juror at many beauty contests because he did not agree with the way the contests were organized.

“Unknown singers, make-up artists and even spa owners can become jurors,” he said.

Hung believes that Vietnam should have only two or three beauty contests a year, where the most beautiful girls are chosen to attend international beauty contests. The national contests should be organized by prestigious state agencies, and not by private businesses.

Thu also said she refused to become a juror at some beauty contests.

“As there are too many beauty contests, the title ‘beauty queen’ has become belittled, and prestigious contests are equated with low-quality contests,” Thu said.

Nguyen Thuy Van, runner-up at Miss Universe 2008, also said that the existence of too many beauty contests has caused a dilution. 

Meanwhile, Nguyen Quang Vinh, former director of the Performing Arts Department, thinks that the existence of many beauty contests is normal. The competition will help advertise Vietnam’s tourism, introduce local culture and stimulate demand.

Regarding concern about the quality of beauty contests, he said high-quality contests will exist, while low-quality ones will die.

According to Tran Ly Ly, acting director of the Performing Arts Department, Decree 144 took effect in 2021 but because of the pandemic, all activities became stagnant. As the pandemic has been controlled, all localities want to return to normal.

Many events have been or are going to take place, including the organization of beauty contests. Under Decree 144, the contests just need the nod from local authorities to be organized.

Ly said her department has been assigned by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to give overall assessment and find problems arising during decree implementation in order to amend the legal document, if necessary.

Tinh Le

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