Letters to the Editor: Teen contestants be yourselves

I was lucky enough to be invited to
Miss Teen Cayman at the Lions Centre on Saturday night as the guest of one of
the sponsors. 

I think it is fair to say that a
lot of women have mixed feelings about beauty pageants and therefore I was not
sure what to expect. I hoped that the girls would not be judged entirely on
appearance and that the competition would give them a chance to celebrate their
personalities. 

The atmosphere upon entering the
Lions Centre was electric. The audience was not just there for something to do
on a Saturday night; they really cared about who was going to win this thing
and had turned out en masse to offer their support. The lights went down, the music
blared through the speakers and nine beaming teenagers dressed all in black
came out and danced their socks off. A unique carnival spirit was instantly
created and you could not have been anywhere other than the Cayman
Islands. 

The high energy choreography was
perfect for an opening sequence and most importantly, the girls were really
enjoying themselves. 

Unfortunately some of this youthful
vibrancy was lost during the catwalk sections where the contestants modelled
their casual, evening and swimwear. Whilst the young ladies walked with grace
and elegance some of them adopted robotic smiles and unnatural movements
reminiscent of beauty pageants from other parts of the world. You felt at this
point that the girls were trying to be too mature. I for one, wanted to tell
them to just be themselves! 

However the fun was once again
restored in the performance section. Nickesha Stephenson belted out a
breath-taking rendition of ‘If I Ain’t Got You’ by Alicia Keys, which was
accompanied by whoops and tears from her supportive family at the next table.
Samantha Nicoletta mixed things up from a dance perspective and performed a
sleek and visually stunning Middle Eastern piece using ribbons and flags. The
other performance of the evening had to be Shanique Yen’s Greece Medley.  How can you fail to enjoy a performance by
someone who is clearly having such a great time? Good on that lady from West
Bay for bringing so much of her unique character into the competition.  

I fully intend to come along and
celebrate Miss Teen Cayman next year but I hope the organisers don’t try and be
so much like other beauty pageants. Be Caymanian, be young and be original.
With the youngest finalist being only 15 years of age you have to ask yourself
if the swimwear section is really necessary and if high pressure political
questions (which understandably reduced one of the contestants to tears) really
add anything? We don’t want to know what these girls think about the recession.
That is a question for the government. 

These courageous teenagers share an
array of academic qualifications, sporting achievements and extracurricular
activities. Why don’t you buy a sequined sofa, sit them down and find out what
makes them happy? 

Natasha Wellfare

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