ORGANISERS of the Miss Jamaica World contest are pointing to a global trend of “natural beauty” for the number of dark-skinned contestants in this year’s pageant.
Aston Cooke, co-franchise holder of the pageant, told the Jamaica Observer that most of this year’s 16 contestants boast an Afro-centric look, which he credits to the appeal of Davina Bennett, who placed third in the Miss Universe pageant held in the United States; as well as Dr Sanneta Myrie, who finished in the top five at the Miss World contest held in China in 2015.
“There is a revolution taking place in the global pageant world and Jamaica hasn’t escaped it. Following up on the performances of ladies like the dreadlocked Dr Sanneta Myrie at Miss World and the Afro queen Davina Bennett at Miss Universe last year, many Jamaican ladies are stepping up to the plate with much confidence and acceptance of their natural beauty,” said Cooke.
Bennett, with her distinctive Afro, was one of the faces of the 2017 Miss Universe. She attracted a number of corporate endorsements in the contest’s aftermath.
In the past, organisers and judges of Jamaican beauty pageants have been criticised for selecting light-skinned winners and runners-up. When Joan McDonald won the Miss Jamaica World title in 1978 sporting a natural hairstyle, some of those critics believed that the contest had broken new ground. But in the last 20 years many have questioned the credibility of these pageants based on the fact that most of the winners are of a lighter hues.
Cooke pointed to another aspect of Bennett’s influence on this year’s event. She is from Clarendon, which he believes is partially responsible for several entries from outside of the Corporate Area this year.
“We have girls representing a number of parishes outside of Kingston and St Andrew, Clarendon, St Elizabeth, St Ann, St Catherine and St James,” said Cooke.
In January Cooke and business partner Weston Haughton acquired the Miss Jamaica World franchise from long-time holder Mickey Haughton-James.
At last Saturday’s sashing at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, the 16 girls appeared in cocktail dresses before they were sashed by their respective sponsors.
Aside from the Beauty with a Purpose fast-track event, there are also fitness, model, talent, and beach beauty categories. The winner of each category will be an automatic top-10 finalists.
The occasion also saw singer Gihrl performing to an appreciative audience.
The grand coronation of the Miss Jamaica World 2018 is set for September 1 at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel’s ballroom.
The finalists are:
• Lamise Hamilton — Miss Interlinc Communications
• Kwela Cole — Miss Intranet Solutions;
• Lawna Jackson — Miss Cetamol Menstrual
• Rushell Malcolm — Miss Puerto Seco Beach Club;
• Tamaya Henry — Miss Absolute New York
• Jameillia Baimbridge — Miss Circles Logistics
• Julia Lindo — Miss Charles Chocolates;
• Chante Pitter — Miss Neutrogena
• Catherine Harris — Miss ORS Olive Oil
• Jana Hinds — Miss Mushroom Swimwear
• Kadijah Robinson — Miss Fontana Pharmacy
• Amaya Lewis — Miss Autocraze;
• Shanique Salmon — Miss Hilda’s Wine Jelly
• Marishan O’Sullivan — Miss Perfectil
• Drezel Deidra Simmonds — Miss Karen Booker Design Group
• Issia Thelwell (Miss Jamaica World Cornwall) —Miss Tropical Bliss.
By: Kevin Jackson