Channel surfing, Ben and I had landed on the beauty pageant’s climax, an irresistible feel-good scene.
But what was this? The host was climbing onstage, his face twisted into a grimace unbefitting the moment of celebration. “There’s been a mistake.” He held a card in front of him, as if to prove a point. “It’s my fault. The card says very clearly…”
We must have tuned in during a practical joke. After all, he was a comedian. But no impish gotcha twinkled in his eyes. “Colombia is first runner-up … Philippines is Miss Universe.”
I pounded Ben's knee in protest. "What? I don't believe this."
Miss Colombia still smiled, but the joy had drained from her face.
I was transfixed, watching an accident unfold in slow motion.
The camera zoomed in on Miss Philippines at the rear of the stage with the other contestants. Confused and hesitant, she found her way to the front and posed beside Miss Colombia. Miss Universe 2014 slipped between them. She reached for the crown still perched atop Miss Colombia’s tresses.
I felt sick. “Oh no. Oh no. Don’t take the crown from that poor girl.”
But she did. And crowned Miss Philippines. It painted a sad picture: zombie beauty queens wearing dead smiles and thousand-yard stares.
The cameras switched to a rear view: three bespangled women (who looked awfully small from that angle) facing a half-cheering, half-jeering mob. Miss 2014 slipped her arms around the other two. Her hand rested on Miss Colombia’s lower back––right on the third chakra, where self-confidence resides. She was rubbing the base of Miss Colombia’s spine, her palm massaging warmth into the spot that represents your power in the world. An unrehearsed gesture, so intimate it startled me.
In this time of bad news and bad manners, Miss Universe 2014 showed me what matters most: kindness.