MEET YOUR NEW MISS UNI­VERSE MYAN­MAR 2017

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - LILLIAN KALISH

BE­TWEEN sparkling dresses, a flock of selfie sticks and a crowd-pleas­ing bikini walk, the Miss Uni­verse Myan­mar 2017 com­pe­ti­tion had some­thing for ev­ery­one.

Hard­core fans don­ning their very best fashion and droves of sup­port­ive rel­a­tives crowded the lux­ury ball­room at Novo­tel Ho­tel on Oc­to­ber 6 to watch the 3rd an­nual com­pe­ti­tion, the win­ner of which will go on to rep­re­sent Myan­mar at the Miss Uni­verse event next year.

After an elab­o­rate open­ing with the Myan­mar na­tional an­them, and a se­ries of song-and-dance num­bers – from tra­di­tional folk singers to Becky G’s pop­u­lar “Shower” song – the 26 Miss Uni­verse Myan­mar 2017 con­tes­tants strut­ted their best cat walk struts in knee-length white ruf­fled dresses.

This year’s event was a show­case of glit­ter, glam, and at­ti­tude as the women com­peted in a swim­suit round, an evening gown round and a ques­tion-and-an­swer sec­tion.

As the con­tes­tants were nar­rowed down from the top 12 to the top 5, view­ers squirmed in their seats await­ing the an­nounce­ment of the night’s win­ner. At the end of the evening, the com­bi­na­tion of spon­sor judges and fan vot­ers who hit the polls on­line and over text nar­rowed the lot down to two: Zun Than Sin and Shwe Eain Si, who held each other’s hands in an­tic­i­pa­tion.

Amid a crowd of scream­ing fans, Htet Htet Htun, the 2016 Miss Uni­verse Myan­mar win­ner, crowned Zun Than Sin as the 2017 ti­tle win­ner.

Shwe Eain Si had al­ready won Miss Body Per­fect and Miss Beau­ti­ful Hair, by the spon­sor Pal­mo­live, and was set to take home a to­tal of K2 mil­lion. Zun Than Sin had pre­vi­ously com­peted in 2014, mak­ing it to the top 5, and has al­ready gar­nered K2 mil­lion this year for the Miss Healthy Skin and Miss Fa­mous prizes.

One of the com­pe­ti­tion’s big­gest fol­low­ers – and brother to Sharr Htut Eain­dra, the Miss Myan­mar Uni­verse 2014 Win­ner – Khant That, known sim­ply as “Ted”, was very happy with the out­come.

“I think the win was well de­served,” he said, no stranger to the hard work it takes each year to com­pete.

Khant Thant also no­ticed many changes in the spec­ta­cle of the show in the years he and his friends have closely fol­lowed it.

“This year the stage is much bet­ter,” he said, ges­tur­ing to the mul­ti­level stage, adorned with daz­zling lights and a colour­ful ro­tat­ing dis­co­l­ike ball. “And the per­for­mances are bet­ter too, more ex­cit­ing each year.”

His sis­ter, Sharr Htut Eain­dra, who swept the coun­try away in 2014 after un­leash­ing her fierce “smize” (smil­ing with your eyes) that would have made Amer­ica’s Next Top Model host Tyra Banks get up and cheer, be­lieves the com­pe­ti­tion also has a pos­i­tive ef­fect on young girls.

“Myan­mar girls can now re­claim their beauty. They can choose what­ever they want to wear,” she said. “I’m very proud of Zun Than Sin, she has been my best friend since we com­peted in 2014.”

And one such young girl, the now-nine-year-old, Lit­tle Miss Myan­mar 2015 win­ner Shin Thant Phyu Sin, was par­tic­u­larly in­spired by the evening.

“I am a big fan of 24 [Zun Than Sin],” she said, her face made up for a party and wear­ing a white ball gown. “I re­ally like to do make-up and feel beau­ti­ful. I never know about the fu­ture but I want to be like this – so fa­mous and pop­u­lar. Ev­ery­one knows me. This is my hobby.”

In ad­di­tion to rep­re­sent­ing the beauty of Myan­mar, the con­tes­tants also serve as “model cit­i­zens”, par­tic­i­pat­ing in a va­ri­ety of civil ser­vice ac­tiv­i­ties run by the com­pe­ti­tion’s main spon­sors, Blue Di­a­mond Ce­ment, Myan­mar Air­lines and Pal­mo­live Nat­u­rals.

In a com­mer­cial video pre­ced­ing the win­ning an­nounce­ment, the women were shown plant­ing trees, re­ceiv­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in CPR and EMT train­ing, and play­ing with kids at the chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal.

Zun Than Sin will re­turn to the stage next year for the global Miss Uni­verse Com­pe­ti­tion.

Pho­tos: Nyan Zay Htet

The beauty queens per­form a song-and-dance num­ber, one of sev­eral in­ter­spersed through­out the show.

Con­tes­tants line up dur­ing the swim­suit por­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Aye Ne Win, grand­son to Gen­eral Ne Win, looks on from the au­di­ence. Cherry Chit Chit Tun models evening wear for the judges dur­ing the pageant, held on Oc­to­ber 6 at the Novo­tel Ho­tel.

Zun Than Sin, the 2017 Miss Uni­verse Myan­mar, will com­pete in the global Miss Uni­verse com­pe­ti­tion next year.

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