"Polynesian beauties" - postcard from the 1940s
As I was on my way to the election of Miss Moorea (no, not as one of the contestants, as a member of the jury), I couldn't help but ponder once again on the mythical beauty of Polynesian women.
That night, we, members of the jury were to decide which of the 6 young girls who have entered the contest would represent her island at the Miss Tahiti beauty pageant on June 22nd.
Mareva Georges, Miss Tahiti 1990, Miss france 1991, 9th runner up at Miss Universe
I wonder if these girls who dream of becoming Miss Tahiti know that they will also become an icon of beauty. As the myth has survived until this day, it falls upon them to uphold the reputation of Polynesian women throughout the world. They too must be a figure of timeless beauty, a living representation of the myth. Tall lissom and delicate creatures with golden skin and long black hair cascading down their back, "strangely beautiful...a mixed race of Polynesian and white ancestry and the result is absolute perfection" (A. Sylvain).
Photo has been cut (shows nudity) @ Adolphe Sylvain
It is a great responsibility to be the face of your country, it is an even greater one to have to sustain a myth and compete with images of Paul Gauguin or the mutiny of the Bounty. As national beauty pageants may appear frivolous and useless to most, I believe that in a country which has built its reputation partly on the mythical beauty of its women, the choice must be made with great care. Indeed, our beauty queen now also partakes in international beauty pageants, so she is, more than ever, an ambassador of our islands.
Has there even been greater ambassador for Tahiti than the stunning Tarita Teriipaia who stole Marlon Brando's heart?
So is Beauty really all that is expected from a beauty queen…?
It is actually not that simple (and you thought anyone could do it !). First, there are the criteria set by the committee (height, age, etc.), pretty basic. Then there are the juging criteria and that’s an entire new game plan because you soon realize that even the most beautiful candidate might end up not getting the title. Huh ??? Well yes, being beautiful is one thing but Polynesian women are also renown for their smile, their prestance, their warmth…a combination of ingredients that will, in the end, seduce the jury and the people.
As the face of our islands, she must be beautiful but also she must be someone the people will love and admire, a woman who will make every woman of the world wonder about Polynesian women's beauty secrets and every man dream of discovering a Paradise populated with beauties wearing flowers in their hair and shell garlands around their necks.
She must epitomize our beauty and our values. A captivating, timeless, enchanting and unattainable beauty.