We are not all for beauty contests for the simple fact that beauty has always been, and still remains in the eyes of the beholder.
Indeed, the saying ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’ rings as true for those seeking to make culinary choices as for those intent on selecting a partner for one pursuit or another – be it business or pleasure, professional or personal.
And forever should it remain so!
However, we sincerely hope that no such reasoning will be used to seek to in any way diminish Shannon Harris’ current pursuit of the Miss Universe 2016 title in the Philippines on behalf of Barbados. At 5’9.5, the international model has already proven to be up to the task, as she continues to fly the Barbados flag at an unprecedented level in Southeast Asia.
Barbadians on the whole should be proud of her performance so far in Manila as she has certainly done all that could be humanly expected of a delegate who was only chosen last September and has had to do what others have been doing for an entire year in terms of international pageant preparedness.
Nonetheless, by any established measure, be it poise, confidence, physical appeal, look, speech or common sense – our home girl Shannon certainly proved from early on that she has what it takes to match the other 85 stunning contestants in the Miss Universe 2016 Pageant pound for pound.
During the preliminary stage of the competition, as the official glam shots and videos were released, Shannon appeared to be guaranteed a spot among the Top 15 for the 65th Miss Universe competition.
However, given the huge amount of politics that is usually at play in these international beauty shows, it would be foolhardy of us to think that the prized Miss Universe tiara was ours for the easy taking; after all, there is no such thing as ‘just a beauty show’.
Indeed, the furore that surrounded Shannon’s selection initially tells us as much. Who could forget that less than 48 hours after her crowning, Barbados TODAY’s Facebook page congratulating this young beautiful Barbadian lass literally blew up into a national debate on race, colour, privilege, class, beauty standards, culture and fairness that attracted more than 150 thousand views, over 1,000 comments and an equal number of shares.
It was 1995 all over again, as the controversy which surrounded the crowning of a white Canadian, Liz Wadman, as Miss Barbados Universe, raised its ugly head all over again.
But to make matters worse on this occasion, there was no question surrounding Shannon’s nationality.
As the National Director of the Miss Universe pageant Brian Greene rightly said at the time, it was all very “absurd” since “Shannon was born and bred here; she was educated at Harrison College. Shannon is 100 per cent Bajan and has every right to be wearing the crown.
“We opened the pageant to all shapes, sizes [and] colours. As long as you are Barbadian you could enter . . . We had an incredible top five and a fabulous top three and now an amazing queen, and we are delighted to be working with the new queen over the next few months getting her ready for the [Miss Universe] pageant,” he added.
It was a very shameful display, particularly with the eyes of the universe on Barbados, of how far we still need to go as a small developing country.
For when at this stage in our development we could still be debating whether a ‘white Barbadian’ should represent her island at an international competition, simply because her hair is not as kinky as the majority of us or her skin colour not as dark, it speaks to a kind of reverse racism that is equally as unpalatable as the mother of all segregation to which we continue to fall prisoner, as the black majority.
That less than five per cent of our population still commands most of the wealth and have greater access to opportunities is perhaps the biggest source of pretense in this sham of a democracy that we love to hold aloft as the best regional example of self-Government today.
But it does not justify our own efforts to turn the whip on others every chance we get, or to see everything as black or white, lest we repeat the same grave mistakes of the past that others have used to colour their judgement of us.
Good luck Shannon! Win or lose, on Sunday, Barbados TODAY is proud of you.