Miss Universe contestant Venus Raj, Miss Philippines, tumbled from frontrunner in the competition to an also-ran when she answered a softball question from judge Billy Baldwin, EntertainmentAndShowbiz.com reports. Her answer to “What was the one big mistake that you did in your life? And what did you do to make it right?” was as inexplicable as it was unintelligible:
“In my 22 years of existence there is nothing major, major problem I’ve done because I’m confident in myself and my family. Thank you for being here. Thank you, thank you very much.”
The crown went to Miss Mexico.
Beauty pageant contestants have certainly had their gaffes, and though it would be nice to say Raj’s was the first, it’s really just the latest in a long, colorful history of unusual statements. Witness this unfortunate choice of words by Miss Teen USA 2007 competitor Lauren Caitlin Upton.
In response to the question, “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the United States on a world map. Who do you think this is?” Upton is quoted on the American Chronicle as saying:
“I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as in, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq and everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future for our children.”
That’s a gaffe and a half. Upton explained on MSNBC that she was overwhelmed, which isn’t hard to picture happening to an 18-year-old in a high-stakes competition. And she’s no dummy, either. When given a chance to answer the question again, she responded, “Personally, my friends and I, we know exactly where the United States is on a map,” she said. “I don’t know anyone else who doesn’t. If the statistics are correct, I believe there should be more emphasis on geography in our education so people will learn how to read maps better.”
As Upton put it, she’s human and she makes mistakes. Whether it’s stumbling on the approach to the stage, freezing up when asked a question, or not fully thinking through one’s answers, anyone with the right amount of spotlight and pressure on them can make a mistake. For the audience, it reassures us that so-called “beautiful” people, whether celebrities, pageant competitors, or politicians, are more than capable of moments of weakness, just as we are — even those of us who are U.S. Americans.
ranjankul, “Miss Philippines 2010 Venus Raj: Was her answer the dumbest in pageant history?” EntertainmentAndShowbiz.com
Robert Paul Reyes, “I Personally Believe Miss Teen South Carolina Is a Hot U.S. American”, American Chronicle
Mike Celizic, “Miss South Carolina Teen USA explains herself” MSNBC.com