Few begrudge Leila Lopes, a 25-year old business student, the right to be called the world’s most beautiful woman. (That phrase is almost always reserved for the Miss Universe rather than Miss World.) Statuesque, poised and elegant in a languorous way, Lopes stood out in the crowd of 16 that hurdled the preliminaries. Angola and Philippines battled it out for the best smile. Supsup has a charming way of tilting her head, but there’s something to be said for a naturally regal bearing, best displayed in that brief pause before Lopes glided down the steps in her white, feathered evening gown.
Also Lopes, judging by her name and looks and worldview, seems to be a perfect queen for an increasingly multi-polar world, at a time of optimism for war-weary Africa. The Associated Press reports: ” Lopes hopes her victory will allow her to assist her native Angola further escape its history of war and impoverishment and said she plans to focus on combatting HIV around the globe.”
Very much in the “Yes, We Can” mold, Lopes sketches her passions, thus:
“I’ve worked with various social causes. I work with poor kids, I work in the fight against HIV. I work to protect the elderly and I have to do everything that my country needs.” And in answer to a post-crowning query about racism, the new Miss Universe was blunt: “Any racist needs to seek help. It’s not normal in the 21st century to think in that way.”
Notice that all of the above are of an inclusive nature, an endorsement for building social bridges and dismantling barriers.
So, yes, Miss Angola deserves that crown. I would have rejoiced had Supsup won. Still, cheering for your contestant shouldn’t blind you to the merits of her rivals.
But 3rd runner-up? That’s a bit rough, as other Filipino beauty queens have grouched.
Never mind her high fan rankings; that’s easily chalked up to Filipinos’ social-media savvy. (If China didn’t have that great digital firewall and those voting sites weren’t in English, that country would have broken the voting program.)
Even the most objective, rigorous among us probably ranked Supsup at least first runner-up. So what cost her the crown?
To predominantly Christian Philippines, Supsup is a heroine for her refusal to swap faith for love. Judging from social media posts, many Filipinos see the magna cum laude (UP Diliman) and architecture board exam topnotcher as proof that intellectual advancement isn’t synonymous with spiritual perdition.
Now, if she had stopped there, Supsup would probably have won. Supsup would probably have gained points, too, had she equated love with respect for her beliefs.
RESPECT is the operational word.
Instead — and this may have been due to time pressure as much as to personal conviction — Supsup added, “If the person loves me, he’ll love my God too.”
There’s a chasm between getting a person to respect your faith and letting you be, and insisting that he/she should follow your faith.
There’s an ocean between standing firm for your faith and forcing conversion in the name of love.
Maybe, Supsup didn’t mean that but that’s what got across to the judges. In a world that has come perilously close to the brink because of perceived religious enmity, it was an uncomfortable reminder that even the nicest of people can add to Earth’s troubles.
I think — and could be wrong — that Supsup actually meant this: That she would, in all likelihood, fall in love with someone who shares her faith; that in choosing a life partner, faith would carry great weight.
That’s not only fair. It’s also logical.
Do you really expect an atheist to fall in love with a religious conservative? Would a Catholic man who sees pro-choice gals as demons even think of marrying one? (That’s not saying his fantasies won’t be filled with the same cast he wants banished to Sheol.)
Fall in lust, maybe, but forget about love. A Democrat and a Republican may come to a compromise. But faith, for better or worse, casts a greater shadow (or light) over our lives.
And for all that Harlequin novels and bodice-rippers send us hyperventilating with tales of sun and moon, night and day, king and beggar girl, scientific evidence show that long-term success needs to be based on shared qualities.
Opposites attract, yes. A survey by the magazine, Evolutionary Psychology, involving 760 members of an online dating site found 85.7% claiming to be looking for opposites. Reporting on the study, the website LiveScience.com quips: “…people seek partners with their same qualities — but claim to want someone who is different”.
LiveScience also notes a study conducted by the University of Iowa in 2005, where results showed
“…that similarity in personality was more important than similarities in attitude, religion, and values in forming a happy marriage. Like-minded people validate each other’s beliefs and views, and there tend to be fewer conflicts as a result.”
Tabloids have recently seized on the rumored romance between Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, both of whom recently broke off marriages with people perceived to be in some ways their opposite. Bullock, whose public image is Hollywood’s girl next door, ditched tattooed biker husband Jesse James of Monster Garage fame, while Reynolds, a happy-go-lucky funny guy, called it off with the relatively artsy and ice-cool Scarlett Johansson. Their break-ups serve as a reminder that whatever Hollywood movies—even their own!—preach, the most successful relationships are like-meets-like.
It’s an established tenet of social psychology that similarities rather than differences—whether in attitude, personality, age, income, race, or religion—produce a lasting relationship. “Opposites tend to attract in the short term, but not in the long-term,” says Catherine Sanderson, a psychology professor at Amherst College who teaches a class on close relationships. “Over the long haul, one of the bigger predictors of success in relationships and marriages is similarity.” (A marriage between people with similar qualities is known as homogamy.) There’s less to fight about, for one thing. People from different religious backgrounds might want to raise children in different traditions, or those from disparate economic backgrounds might clash on the importance of education. Agreement, meanwhile—whether on movies, restaurants, religion, or favorite romantic comedies—produces positive emotions and more fruitful relationships. (It’s also true that similar people are more likely to meet each other in the first place: If you like sports, you’re more likely to be in situations where you’ll run into other sports lovers.)
Shamcey was coming from one direction, the judges from another. Our Bb Pilipinas may not not have been politically correct. We may not even agree with her. But there are as many realities in this world as there are people. Shamcey was being true to hers. And that, to her beau and kin, may be the only thing that matters.