A new Miss Tibet has been crowned. The beauty
contest took place in Dharamsala, India, the de facto capital of the
Tibetan government in exile. But the newly crowned winner may be
shunned if she attempts to compete on the international stage, due to
pressure from China.
A 20-year-old who describes herself as an
"ambitious girl" has won a controversial beauty pageant held in the
seat of Tibet's exile government.
Choezom is the new Miss Tibet, selected over three other contestants.
Several other young women withdrew from the competition before the
first round of judging. Organizers say they decided not to participate
for "personal reasons."
The beauty pageant took place in Dharamsala, where the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama resides.
competition has caused controversy since its inception in 2002. Tibetan
elders have put pressure on contestants and their families, contending
such an event, which includes a swimsuit round, conflicts with
traditional Tibetan values. In some years, there has been only one
Miss Tibet 2009, who is from Dharamsala, says she
hopes her participation and victory will inspire other young Tibetans
to publicly demonstrate their talents.
"I would like to tell
all Tibetan youngsters that please come on the stage and show your
talent, wit and beauty, especially, Tibetan girls because they are
always hiding their talents. Please come on the stage and perform like
The four-judge panel awarded Choezom, who speaks fluent
Tibetan, English and Hindi and aspires to be a journalist, a prize of
100,000 Indian rupees, about $2,100, at the conclusion of six rounds of
competition over three days.
For many of her predecessors, the Miss Tibet crown has been the end of the line.
international pageants bar Tibetan representatives from their line-ups
as Tibet is no longer a sovereign country. At other pageants, entrants
from China, which considers Tibet an integral part of its territory,
have refused to take the stage unless the Tibetan competitor wore a
sash reading "Miss Tibet-China."
Miss Tibet 2004 said she was thrown out of the Miss Tourism World pageant in Zimbabwe due to Chinese pressure.
China invaded Tibet in 1950. The Dalai Lama fled his homeland nine years later and has lived ever since in India.