Mon | May 27, 2024

Miss Universe Jamaica East building ‘empowered’ women

First regional showdown set for April 21

Published:Monday | April 15, 2024 | 12:11 AMKenrick Morgan/ Gleaner Writer
Jermaine Blair (left), franchise holder, Miss Universe Jamaica East, and Deborah Gordon, Miss Universe Jamaica second runner-up and Miss Universe Jamaica East 2023.
Jermaine Blair (left), franchise holder, Miss Universe Jamaica East, and Deborah Gordon, Miss Universe Jamaica second runner-up and Miss Universe Jamaica East 2023.
Miss Universe Jamaica 2023 Jordanne Lauren Levy (centre) is flanked by Deborah Gordon (left), Miss Universe Jamaica second runner-up, and  Robyn Kirra Lloyd, Miss Universe Jamaica first runner-up.
Miss Universe Jamaica 2023 Jordanne Lauren Levy (centre) is flanked by Deborah Gordon (left), Miss Universe Jamaica second runner-up, and Robyn Kirra Lloyd, Miss Universe Jamaica first runner-up.
Miss Universe Jamaica East 2023 Deborah Gordon, has worked with the mentally ill during her reign, exposing them to the benefits of art therapy.
Miss Universe Jamaica East 2023 Deborah Gordon, has worked with the mentally ill during her reign, exposing them to the benefits of art therapy.
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When the average man or woman speaks about the festivities of beauty pageants, it is easy to think that the only ‘beauty’ on display is on the outside.

However, when the Miss Universe Jamaica East competition returns on Sunday, April 21, event organisers are hoping to show Jamaica, and, by extension, the world, the deeper beauty behind each Miss Universe Jamaica contestant.

“Right now, the competition is so tight. This year, for my first time ever, we have women who are growing and participating at such a high level. We got 48 applications, and we narrowed it down to 20, and they all have been of such high quality,” said Jermaine Blair, franchise holder of the Miss Universe Jamaica East pageant.

Blair went on to explain that he believed that his region’s applicant-development process is responsible for the great talent that has made its way into the competition this year.

“The applications were better than last year. And what I think happened in East is that people are seeing our nurturing and development process. And that helps the women to appreciate that we care about their development and who they are and that we are all about empowering them as women,” he said.

From psychologists and development experts to motivational speakers, Miss Universe Jamaica East has left no stone unturned as the leadership team goes for the top prize across all regions. And with their last superwoman, Deborah Gordon, making it to third place in the 2023 Miss Universe Jamaica competition, Blair is hoping to do even better in 2024.

“Deborah did so well last year – she really gave her everything! But it all boils down to understanding your queen must be ready and rounded in every single aspect. Your queen must always be ready, and prepared. ‘Cause when you go to the international show, all those women have energy and presence. And that is also what we are working on for our applicants this year,” he said.

GORDON’S ART

Since her time representing Miss Universe Jamaica East in 2023, Gordon has gone on to do work across several industries in Jamaica, including work with the Bellevue Hospital and their patients, using art as therapy.

“It’s funny how things worked out. I was on my way to a meeting with some very creative friends of mine for some advice, and on my way to that meeting, I passed Bellevue, and I thought, ‘Hey, why not do a project with them?’” Gordon said.

For Gordon, it only made sense to work with the hospital, which is the only mental-health hospital in Jamaica, as so many people struggle with mental-health challenges.

From tie-and-die to embroidery and everything else in-between, Gordon’s hands-on and arts approach has been well received, and she hopes the work she does will help to remove negative stigmas about mental health.

“We tend to typecast persons with mental-health issues as lunatics and not worth anything because that is how they have been treated in the past. And I believe that to help get rid of that stigma, and other negative ones, that we just need to read up on resources and continue to treat people like people,” Gordon said, adding that she is open to future partnerships to continue and expand the work she is doing currently.

SUNDAY’S SHOWDOWN

As his contestants get ready to compete come Sunday at Jamaica College’s Karl Hendrickson Auditorium, Blair wants them to know how proud he his of their accomplishments.

“They make me so proud to know they have been absorbing the lessons we have been giving to them and have been using them back in all aspects of the competition and in their own lives,” he said.

The organiser also wants patrons watching the competition to know that it is more than just pageantry.

“I want every woman to understand and corporate Jamaica to know that Miss Universe Jamaica is much more than just parading on a stage. It is about women being empowered to empower other women. We want to see our women grow, improve, and help those around them better themselves,” Blair said.

For people interested in supporting the “development of our women”, Blair says that tickets for Sunday’s coronation show are available online as well as in person at outlets like Janga’s Soundbar and Grill and Prince D’Bruce Perfumery.

kenrick.morgan@gleanerjm.com