By Haider Hamza
Royalty for a Year:
Under Tight Security and Limited Audience, the Beauty Pageant Show Went On
The 60th annual Miss Iraq Pageant was held in
After a two-hour ceremony under tight security, Tamar Goregian, 23, the first Armenian Iraqi to win the pageant, officially became the “Iraqi Queen of Beauty.”
Under the Radar
The pageant, held at a heavily guarded
The audience contained mostly friends and family members of the contestants. Days before the event, nine contestants, including five Muslim girls, withdrew, fearing repercussions for participating in a “taboo” competition. Eleven contestants remained.
In the years that followed the
This year's one-day, underground event — with a limited stage, no designers and no choreographers — contrasted sharply with the usual weeklong celebration and rehearsals.
The Show Must Go On
Despite the curtailed program, the 11 women gave it their best. The contestants paraded, then split into two groups and strutted their stuff in casual wear as a
After the musical recess, the contestants donned one-piece bathing suits, sarongs, hats or silk robes. After the evening gown competition, six girls were nominated as finalists.
Audience members jotted down the name of their favorite contestant and then the panel of four judges weighed in. Goregian received the most votes from the audience and from the judges, earning her the title.
Aside from queen of beauty, the audience also elected a teen queen and a queen of grace.
Pageant organizers hope to send the winner to the New York-based Miss Universe Pageant, in an effort to present a positive image of Iraqi women. The last time
Organizers and local club owners banned photos and media coverage to protect the girls from hard-line Islamists who call such contests a “Zionist creation.”
Pageant organizers, who asked not to be identified for security reasons, hope that the new Miss
“Pageants give women an edge to represent Iraqi costumes and culture, and show that Iraqi women are beautiful and intelligent,” a pageant official said.
“We will train the new winner and get her prepared for the Miss Universe Pageant, with etiquette lessons, media communication skills, and PR skills,” the
Goregian can't wait for the challenge.
“Miss Universe would be a great experience for me. It would broaden my horizon and if I get a chance to compete, I may encourage girls to share this experience and encourage them to enter the [next] beauty pageant.”
She also hoped that events like these would help put an end to the violence
“Maybe beauty is the final step to end violence and preach world peace after all,” she said. “The power of beauty surpasses the ugly face of politics and greed.”
The young woman added that one day she wanted to own her own business and maybe even become a politician.