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Miss Pakistan World

By Hina Shereen Ejaz
Special to PNB

In the fifth annual pageant featuring contestants from across the globe, the Miss Pakistan World Pageant took place in late June of 2007. Women came to fulfill their dreams of stardom and to give Pakistani women a greater presence in the world of glamour and in the illustrious history of pageantry.

For me, growing up in America, pageants represented women who had it all: looks, grace, beauty. Some of my favorite celebrities started this way. So I decided to represent my heritage and go for the gold. I was ecstatic when I was chosen in the top 5! I placed fourth, or third runner-up, and got to stand beside other very talented and beautiful and, more importantly, intelligent Pakistani women ranging from 19 to their mid-20s.

The girls ended up teaching me more through their example than even the actual pageant did, because I measure the worth of every experience through the lessons I learn. I found from these young women that loving yourself and being who you really are get you ahead, and that surely in the end, whether you are purple, yellow, 9 feet tall or 4 feet short, confidence is what counts.

I heard about the pageant through the Internet, and once I participated, I realized what a close-knit world the pageant and modeling industries are. A lot of time and money on all ends went into the affair, and we practiced for eight straight days with a particularly talented choreographer. Great, well-known photographers like Tara Leigh came and made us feel like real celebrities as well as local news organizations that took interest

For me, the most enthralling part of the eight-day pageant, amidst all the events and early mornings, was the private interview round where I got to tell prominent Torontonians (the judges) my dreams, aspirations and how I plan on helping the world through journalism. It resurfaced in me the reasons why I want fame -- honestly, so that I can stand up for injustice and leave an imprint on society much like my role model, Oprah Winfrey, who won the 1971 Miss Fire Prevention and Miss Black Tennessee titles. The actual pageant and interview was preceded by events where we took a boat cruise in Toronto and had a private tour and gourmet lunch at The Bay department store.

The pageant day went like a whirlwind. Sponsors and media lined up to watch Mahleej Sarkari of Toronto win the title of Miss Pakistan World; with Nida Shaheen from Denver as first runner-up; Nida Khan of London as second; me, Hina Shereen Ejaz, a New Yorker, as third runner-up; and Bushra Jamil of Hong Kong as fourth runner-up.

The show involved intense choreography in evening dresses, our talent presentations and an opening number. I never knew how much pageants were like skiing, “every  woman for herself," but when it came down to someone’s last moment to get on stage, we all jumped and helped each other pin and tie and zip up dresses. All my great jewelry plans for each outfit faltered after learning the day of how little time we had between each round.

The whole week seemed to feel that way, but I am sure that is the nature of a high-pressure business. There surely is no business like show business. In the end, I was happy to be part of the organization, and though I am putting my full focus on my career, as a broadcast journalist now, I wish the other top-five girls good luck in their future pageant endeavors, and I still find the idea of a pageant trying to change the mindset of a conservative country rather fascinating.

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