Despite what TV and social media would have us believe, beauty pageants aren’t all smiles and crowns.
In a Facebook post from Monday, Miss International 2013 winner Bea Santiago opened up about a number of instances when she or other candidates were sexually harassed.
The revelation came just a few days after contestants from the recently concluded Miss Earth 2018 pageant said that they were sexually harassed by one of the event’s sponsors.
In her post, Santiago said that she wanted to share her experience to “help the future Queens.” Without naming anyone, she gave a rundown of instances she was the victim of inappropriate behavior.
She recounted a time when she was 12 years old and a 21-year-old male pageant winner told her that it was too bad she wasn’t born earlier.
Yes, guys, that’s very creepy.
Santiago said she was also allegedly “touched inappropriately” by a well-known businessman. This same businessman also allegedly organized parties for women who lost in pageants.
“The next time I met him I was a candidate and the organizers were there to see things thoroughly. He couldn’t interact with us because the chairwoman was present and so as (sic) the chaperones,” Santiago recalled. “[S]till he was talking nonsense to us.”
There was also a time when a man she was taking a photo with allegedly “accidentally” swung his hand to touch her butt.
She said a similar incident allegedly happened to one of her fellow pageant queens when they were taking a photo inside either the Senate or Congress building (she could not recall which one).
“It happens. No matter how careful you are. No matter how Big/ popular/old/ ‘religious’ a person is, HE CAN STILL BE A PERVERT,” Santiago wrote.
She also noted that sexual harassment doesn’t only happen in pageants, alleging that she was molested by a priest in her home province Masbate when she was a child.
“I still feel guilty for not speaking up and file complaints or SLAP THE HELL OUT OF THEM,” she said towards the end of her post.
“I am honestly really scared to speak up. I hope I [won’t] regret this.”
Santiago won the Miss International competition in Tokyo, Japan in 2013. She has since been working as a model and actress in the Philippines.
The recent sexual harassment allegations from Miss Earth contestants show the dark side of a much-loved industry. Beauty pageants are a huge deal in the Philippines and are often glamorized.
Unlike in other countries like the United States where they are seen as cheesy, becoming a beauty queen has a certain level of prestige in the Philippines. Many young girls also see it as a way out of poverty or as an entry into show business.
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