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Courtesy of Victoria Pham

Many people believe beauty pageants to be a simple representation of how attractive someone is, but this perception is false. Beauty pageants are a lot more than that; they require time, dedication, responsibility and most importantly — passion. In addition to presenting themselves as elegant women, beauty pageants test for everything listed above, as well as knowledge and intelligence.

Some people may argue that beauty pageants and television shows that advertise modeling are means of social media that put pressure on young men and women, forcing them to believe that they must be as tall and slim as the people represented on television. This pressure may cause young women to conform to these looks and might encourage them to resort to dieting (which could lead to eating disorders) or cosmetic surgery.

People may also argue that pageants are a method of objectifying females. Others may say that social media and pageants encourage healthy lifestyles and promote the ideal image of female beauty. Some believe that beauty contests are a way for different races and cultures to congregate in one specific area, and a way for people to represent national or regional pride.

The conclusion of this debate remains ambiguous. However, there is the truth that being a part of the pageant and modeling world is more than just the simple task of dressing up in designer clothes and walking down the runway.

Victoria Pham, a former Anteater who recently transferred to UC Berkeley, reigned as the 2009 Miss Asian California and Miss Asian 1st Princess, and also placed in the top 15 as Miss Fitness/Sport for the 2010 Miss Vietnam World competition.

Pham describes being a pageant participant as a “really big job.” She loves her role as Miss Asian California, but it is also very time consuming since she has to attend a variety of events along with managing her personal and school life. Victoria is entitled to be a role model and someone who can bring change to the world, even if it is on a minimal level.

“Behind the scenes of pageants are pretty much what people believe them to be, very hectic and crazy,” Pham says. “It’s always an amazing experience to observe how everything gets put together. I can only describe it as controlled chaos. Everyone is so well organized and professional, makeup artists, hair stylists, production managers, stage crew […].It is always amazing how everything comes together in the end to create a beautiful event and show for the audience.”

When asked about people who think pageants and modeling are all about beauty and fame, Pham explains, “Underneath all of the beauty, there is a lot of stress and pressure. In the end, it’s all about surpassing everyone’s expectations and judgments and finding a way to express true individuality.”

Victoria defines her experience as life changing, and states that her favorite part of pageants is being able to meet new people and make friends from all around the world.

“It does take a lot of time but I feel like in the end, it’s all worth it. The best thing about getting a title like this is being able to have a voice in the community and to truly make a difference in people’s lives,” Pham says.

Beyond all the stereotypes and TV productions, these beautiful and talented young women are truly motivated to make a difference in the world.

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