‘Beauty for a Cause’: Miss Earth Focus on People and Forests Appeals to Younger Audiences

Among the organizations who went the extra mile to raise awareness for the International Year of Forests (IYF), Miss Earth made its presence felt in a variety of settings. From presenting  the communications plenary at the APFW Forest Week in November 2011 in Beijing, to having the reigning Miss Earth visit schools and youth camps around the region last year, the pageant’s organizers have been steadfast in their commitment to ‘Celebrating Forests for People.’

The devastating floods in Thailand, which forced the organizers to move the event from Bangkok to Manila last December, brought home with striking tragedy the importance of the awareness-raising work Miss Earth does. As Lorraine Schuck, Carousel Executive Vice-President said: “Miss Earth 2011 will in fact become more meaningful at this time. …Through the Miss Earth Foundation, we will have more activities that will increase awareness on the worldwide impact of climate change. The situation in Thailand is an example of what can happen if we do not take the necessary measures to save the environment.”

As the 90 contestants were slated to arrive in Manila on 17 November, 2011, RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests was particularly pleased to help provide information on people and forests to accompany the contest. Televised across the region, it was a great opportunity to advocate with young audiences through simple messages, which were carried on bamboo posters by the beauty contestants. As they walked onstage during the contest, and later at the press conference, these ‘beauties for a cause’ relayed simple but telling messages on the rate of deforestation, the poverty of forest dwellers, and the need for sustainable management of our forest resources.

Miss Earth contestants hold banners with forest facts

The importance of reaching out to the youth demographic is increasingly being driven by demand – from youth. Arguably more concerned about the rapid depletion and degradation of natural resources, youth represent a natural constituency for RECOFTC, one with whom we engage systematically through the Young Seedlings Program in Thailand and through special events like the upcoming International Forest  Film Festival in Bangkok from February 17-19, 2012. If you are in town – you don’t need an invitation!

Candidates of the Miss Earth beauty contest hold tree seedlings and placards promoting environmental advocacy in Manila

Candidates of the Miss Earth beauty contest hold tree seedlings and placards promoting environmental advocacy in Manila

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3 Comments

  1. anonymous

     /  January 30, 2012

    I am disappointed in RECOFTC with this blog entry. This post undermines the nicely written piece that immediately precedes it. “Closer to Nature” articulates “the sad truth” of women being “undervalued and underrepresented in decision-making, program strategies, and government policies” in forestry. If RECOFTC wants to see women fulfill worthy goals, like involvement in government policy, then perhaps they should show fewer women in objectifying-bikinis and more photos that capture the spirit of the previous post. Shame on RECOFTC for taking the cheap bait that “sex-sells.”

    Reply
    • Sex is in the eyes of the beholder. Miss Earth and her cohorts are role models for young people – not sex objects. Unlike other beauty queens, Miss Earth dedicates her whole year to educating people and raising awareness of environmental issues. By raising these issues in forums as wide apart as the UN (they are UNEP ambassadors) to schools and rural youth camps, they are helping to influence public opinion and policy as much, if not more, than a rural woman in a participatory process. Women everywhere should be more actively involved in decision-making, which is precisely what Miss Earth encourages young women to do. Asia has the world’s largest youth demographic and they live in the continent with the fastest urbanization rates in history …ergo, their forests are most threatened. To reach them effectively, you do it through their role models and their champions. Far from shame, we feel pride in being able to take important community forestry messages to tomorrow’s decision-makers. Sex is in the eyes of the beholder…and its time to get past that stereotype.

      Reply
    • What you saw in these photos is but one of the many facets of Miss Earth. Yes, we celebrate the physical beauty of women but more than that, we push for the holistic development of our participants. We are actively working to push for reforestation and environmental awareness. We go to communities and do hands on work. We are beauties for a cause in action. Because of our advocacy, we have attracted women from various fields to participate in our activities. Nowadays, you have to be creative to get the important message across. Our Miss Earth winners are fortunate to capture the interests of man that we might be able to get them involved in environmental work. We are happy with the support of RECOFTC in terms of providing materials to our candidates during the International Year of the Forests and we are grateful to them for seeing the purpose and intent of Miss Earth.

      Reply

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