Miss PH Earth organizers on veil issue: Women not objectified

MANILA, Philippines – Organizers of the Miss Philippines Earth pageant responded to criticism over the black veils that covered their contestants' faces during the swimsuit competition pre-judging round, saying that the ladies had not been objectified. (READ: Miss Philippines Earth: Veiled in controversy)

Last Thursday, June 22, the candidates had walked the runway at the Oakwood Premier Joy-Nostalg Center in black bikinis and black veils. The preliminary round was called "Figure and Form."

In their statement on Sunday, June 25, the Miss Philippines Earth organizers shared Rappler's article on the issue and said that the transparent black veil was used to focus on the candidates' figures and forms, as that was the portion's theme. 

"In the pre-judging portion of 'Figure and Form,' (which is separate from the swimsuit competition, by the way), the transparent veil served a double purpose – first, to place emphasis on the figure and form of the candidate, which was the criteria of focus for that specific portion, and second to introduce the girls with dramatic flair since it was the first in our series of prejudging," they said.

The pageant organizers added that the contestants would have spoken up had they been uncomfortable.

"We honestly do not believe that the girls were objectified or that they felt objectified, remember we are working with millennials. They speak their mind and will no way allow themselves to be put on the negative side," they said.

"If you paid attention to the entire show and listened to the ladies promoting their fitness and health regimen, which is part of our environmental campaign, then maybe you would have seen it in a different way. More often than not when you go out of the norm, there will always be questions and negativity. This is expected."

The organizers also pointed out that the next round of pre-judging will concentrate on "Poise and Beauty of Face."

They added: "After 26 years of doing pageants, we have noticed that it is difficult to separate inherent biases while judging. In the past 10 years or more, we have noticed the ladies work so hard on each of the criteria needed for the competition. Miss Philippines Earth decided to make this move to promote strict impartiality during our prejudging and for the first time allowed the event to be seen by the public."

Read the full statement below.

On Saturday, June 24, Rappler contributor Voltaire Tayag wrote that the black veils worn during the segment were unnecessary.

"The black veil was totally inappropriate and sends the wrong message about women. The pageant justified their gimmick by alluding to the fact that only 'figure and form' was being judged. Unfortunately, this gimmick objectified women by emphasizing to the viewing public to simply look at the body of the candidate," he wrote.

This is not the first time that the pageant has been involved in controversy. In 2016, Miss Philippines Earth Imelda Schweighart resigned after a video of her criticizing Miss Earth 2016 Katherine Espin went viral. She also made headlines after comparing Adolf Hitler and President Rodrigo Duterte

Forty candidates from the Philippines will compete for the Miss Philippines Earth crown, which is currently held by Loren Artajos. – Rappler.com