Beauty with Purpose...Manners and the Modern Beauty Pageant

Speaking at the first of a series of workshops...

My company, The Percy Institute of International Protocol, has been invited to partner with the Miss World Australia 2015 Pageant.  My contribution will be a series of workshops on modern manners, the art of communication and dining etiquette.  This evening I met the entrants and conducted the first workshop.

I have never really followed beauty pageants.  Many years ago, when Australia was a much smaller and more insular nation, the Miss Australia Pageant, which concentrated on fundraising, was well known and each year we young women watched the crowning ceremony and then promptly forgot all about it.

It was a surprise for me to be invited to be part of this year's pageant.  As with the Miss Australia contest, this one also concentrates on the fundraising aspect of the event and this year the proceeds are going to Variety Australia...a truly worthwhile cause.  The theme of the contest is Beauty with Purpose.

The entrants represent the many faces of modern Australia.  The ladies, aged between 18 and 24, from diverse cultural backgrounds are truly representative of our country. They are approaching this journey towards the State judging and then the National judging, followed by the Crowning of Miss World Australia 2015 with trepidation and enthusiasm.

For many of them the concept of traditional Western manners is an unfamiliar one on a day to day basis. Not only are their cultures diverse but also their backgrounds.  They represent all aspects of life with its socio-economic and educational differences.  And so I have tailored my workshop
subjects and delivery to an "international "audience, encouraging the participants to embrace their differences.

The girls were casual in their dress tonight, uncertain of the dress codes in these, the early days of the pageant's progress. They will have many opportunities to test their fashion sense in the coming month.  But what struck me, as I was introduced to each of them, was the sparkle in their eyes.  They do not necessarily want the Crown, I think, but the experiences they will gain as entrants over a three month period.

For the more than two hours I spoke with them, and to them, I was amazed by their thirst for the information I provided;  they were questioning and interested in the concept of graciousness in this day and age.

The emphasis on the "female form" is no longer applicable in this pageant;  rather the participants will be embracing health and wellness through a series of events which involve yoga rather than a bikini parade.

It is going to be a privilege, I now feel, to mentor these young Australians through this pageant process.  Rather than seeing them as participants in a beauty contest I will be viewing these young ladies as ambassadors for a great fundraising cause whom, I hope, will gain some life skills along the way...and then there is always the Crowing!