Miss Universe Should Be Called By Her Name, Not Just Her Country
Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach of the Philippines was crowned Miss Universe 2015, but, as we all know by now, it wasn't really that easy. Moments before Wurtzbach was awarded the crown on December 20, host Steve Harvey wrongly announced the Miss Universe winner as Ariadna Gutiérrez from Colombia. Harvey's mistake was corrected in a mere three minutes, but not before the Internet got angry, and then got funny, making memes that poked fun at the Family Feud host's gaffe. Hours after his mistake, Harvey apologized to the two women, but why, in an apology to these women, did Harvey refer to them by their countries? The apology would have been just that much better had he used their actual names. In fact, the Miss Universe contestants should be called by their names, not just their countries, as a basic sign of respect. Every one of the 80 women, from Albania to Vietnam, who graced the Las Vegas stage at this year's pageant deserves to be recognized for who they are, not where they're from.
The Miss Universe pageant, which was founded in 1952, lives by the motto "Confidently Beautiful." They look for women who are beautiful, yes, but are also well-rounded. They are required to stand out, to have diverse talents, and to be knowledgeable about politics, the economy and women's rights. At the drop of a hat, they're required to speak on important topics like those, not to mention be able to condense their feelings about those nuanced topics into digestible short soundbites. They are supposed to be the full package — so why does it too often feel like their names are not worth knowing? Miss Universe 2015 is not Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, but instead Miss Philippines, easily confused with Miss Colombia. Sometimes there is a passing mention of her name, but it's most likely after naming her country.
In 2015, when women are fighting for recognition after years of being sidelined in the most subtle of ways from the gender wage gap to the shortage of female filmmakers, the Miss Universe pageant needs to recognize a woman's name is an important element to who she is. They also need to understand that, if they want to claim their competition is to help women earn scholarship money, they need to put less focus on what they look like and what they've achieved. Referring to a woman as Miss Philippines or Miss Colombia makes it seem like they're all cut from the same mold, instead of being individual women, from various countries, who have paved their own way to get there. No matter how you feel about the merits of pageants like this, it is hard to argue that these women don't deserve to be recognized, by name, for what they went through to get to that Miss Universe stage.
This is why Miss Universe should take some inspiration from the Olympics, where athletes are members of teams and wear costumes to signify where they're from, but their names are what represent the talents that got them to this world stage. So who is Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach? She is a model, TV personality, chef, beauty writer, makeup artist, and Miss Philippines, who is now Miss Universe. Not the other way around.