There is no denying that the country’s modelling industry is losing its glamour and support. The latest attempt at organising a modelling contest, the 2015 Miss Valentine’s scheduled for Blantyre’s Chez Ntemba International Club on February 14, ended up being cancelled after a few models turned up.
The poor showing was partly blamed on an electric fault, yet there was also poor mobilisation of models on the part of organisers. The search for beauty is costly. In other countries, millions of dollars are spent on advertising, scouting, fragrance and make-up only. But comparing to the previous pageants, the current performance and value of beauty contests in Malawi suggests a state of near-death.
The woes of the beauty modelling extend beyond just poor turn-up of contestants. The success of beauty modelling also lies in the yardstick of beauty, which is always evidenced by impressive turn up of new and young hopefuls on the runways. But today, most of the beauty pageants are flooded with recycled models. One cannot patronise an event without noticing those regular faces, trying their big chance for the umpteenth time.
Beauty models are meant to become agents of change and awareness in society. But unfortunately, the traits of some models in Malawi tell a different story.
For example, some models become confused due to misunderstanding of their roles and their inability to handle fame. The more the limelight shines on them, the more they get confused. This results in the public witnessing their bizarre lifestyle and increasingly erratic behaviour. They reduce themselves to aimless young girls with dreams of stardom in their heads, but not an ounce of self-esteem.
While locally, beauty models end up as officials’ or celebrities’ girlfriends, elsewhere in the world, they are used in lucrative advertising business to psychologically impact on the consumer. Better still, others assume the role of effective ambassadorship of different brands.
One time model Ausa Kamanga blames players in the modelling industry for lacking professionalism, which leads to the poor perception that modelling has.
“Some players don’t understand that modelling is a career; hence, taking models for granted. Some think models are cheap and desperate when they strip for the runway, but that is not the case because that’s the line of duty,” said Kamanga.
Legendary organiser of the Miss Malawi event Carver Bhima says a few beauty models manage to make it to the top because of the many issues that stand on their way.
“There are issues that need to be ironed out such as deception on the part of organisers and managers if we are to claim the lost glory of beauty modelling in Malawi. For example, organisers need to have sound resources such as cash prizes to give out to winners,” Bhima said.
Experience has shown that some people wake up one morning and go about mobilising girls. Picture this scenario: a student beauty model uses her money for transport, modelling gear and food throughout preparations of a particular event only to be told at the end that her prize money will be paid in arrears.
One of the beauty models, who spoke on condition of anonymity, had no kind words for promoters and managers of beauty events and agencies, arguing they are the ones bringing shame to the industry.
“Today, very few beauty models are treated with dignity because of the shame brought by some promoters, who just want to use and dump girls. I mean, real agencies offer personal grooming tips and undertake vigorous marketing of their models as potential brand ambassadors,” said the model.
Once upon a time, beauty modelling in Malawi was intriguing and a source of pride. Apart from the corporate world, individuals were products to be associated with it. Events such as Miss Malawi, Miss Southern, Central or Northern Region, Miss Tourism, Miss Schools and Miss Valentine’s attracted some level of professionalism and integrity.
But today, prospective contestants and sponsors are discouraged by lip-services that lead to controversies. Some models also shoulder the blame for lacking etiquette.
“On the part of contestants, beauty itself is not enough to get them to the top because personality is what matters most. Why personality? Brands and companies want to associate themselves with people with pleasant character. Not all pretty people out there can become models because modelling is beyond that,” said Bhima.
The modelling guru called on both inspiring and established models to jealously guard their reputation.
The choice of where a beauty pageant is scheduled plays an important role in the planning process as it sets the mood of the entire show; hence, should not be made lightly.
However, some quarters blame poor choice of venues as a contributing factor to dwindling standards of beauty modelling in the country. For instance, they argue that parents could not allow their children to parade at a night club.
“As a parent, what impression can you have if your daughter is seeking your permission to parade at a night club? This is absolutely crazy as far as child upbringing is concerned,” lamented Ebellet Nundwe, a mother from Mbayani Township.
She said venues for beauty pageants contribute to participants’ psychology, confidence, performance and reputation. Hence, the need to reflect on their choices. – HOWARD MLOZI Correspondent