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Beauty pageants: A platform for women to raise their voice?

Jerusalem24 – “I’m not doing this for me, I’m doing this for my country and women in Palestine. Beauty pageants are not just about looks, they’re about creating future leaders in our society, empowering women, and making a change.”

Palestinian influencer and businesswoman Lauren Imseeh represented Palestine in the Miss Global 2022 (after the competition was postponed last year due to the pandemic), marking the first time Palestine participates in the pageant.

Miss Global Palestine 2022 tells Jerusalem24 about how this experience focuses on women’s empowerment, embracing cultures, and embodying the beauty within. “This is why I chose this pageant, and I felt like it suits the Palestinian culture as well,” Imseeh says.

This is the second international pageant Imseeh participates in, with the goal of changing the perspective of beauty pageants and introducing the concept more openly in Palestine.

In 2019, Imseeh represented Palestine in the Miss Arab World beauty pageant.

Miss Global Palestine 2022, Lauren Imseeh.

For her national dress, Imseeh chose to wear the distinguished Palestinian prisoner’s jumpsuit [worn in Israeli prisons], to raise awareness about this national issue.

The background story of her selection comes from a personal experience: like many Palestinians who have a friend, a family member, a parent, or a relative in prison, Imseeh was affected by the experience of her friend who was in Israeli prison as a child. She now feels as if it is her duty to represent every Palestinian.

With the prominent brown prisoner’s suit, and adhesive tapes bearing the phrases “Free Palestine” and “We can’t breathe since 1948”, Imseeh wanted to send a strong message during the National dress segment; however, Imseeh was able to only wear the jumpsuit during the photo session prior to the competition, and was informed the day of the pageant that she would no longer be able to wear it since it was too political.

“This is a platform for women who want to raise their voices, this should be allowed… Having me as a Palestinian is also political… They also told me that they had to eliminate other countries such as the occupation country, due to political reasons as well.”

Imseeh had to make a last-minute outfit change: the organizing body provided her with a designer, and she ended up wearing a white jumpsuit resembling the Palestinian flag and dove of peace.

“My previous participation was very general, but this time in Miss Global, I wanted my participation to be more about Palestine [as a message] for future participation, [for] women who want to participate, that you can raise your voice through this platform and represent Palestine and our cause and the Palestinian struggle.”

Imseeh is working on helping girls go to these beauty pageants. “Beauty pageants are not just about looks, they’re about creating future leaders in our society, empowering women, and making a change… We need this platform for women in Palestine, especially for young ones, because women are the core of our society, the ones who can make a change.”

After sharing pictures and videos of her participation in the pageant Miss Global Palestine attracted wide-scale attention, many praised the move, while others undermined it. However, Imseeh believes that there are many ways to resist the occupation and spread awareness about the reality of the conditions of living under it.

“I’m not doing this for me, I’m doing this for my country and women in Palestine… I want to focus on the positive more than the negative,” Imseeh says. “I know how much [of a] good impact it had on so many women and so many Palestinians around the world, especially prisoners. It was a small thing but it had a huge impact.”

Miss Global Palestine – who has more than 252k followers on Instagram – believes that you do not need a certain number of followers to talk about Palestine, but rather that it is a national duty as a Palestinian to educate and spread awareness about Palestine.

Imseeh shares with Jerusalem24 that she’s working on multiple projects, including working on a Miss Palestine Organization that will be launched beginning of August, confirming that the website will start accepting applications in order to for the pageant to be held in October or November.

Watch the full interview on Vibes.

Nadeen Alshaer

Alshaer is a Palestinian journalist, a Birzeit University graduate with a B.A. in TV and Radio Broadcasting Journalism. Alshaer has 6 years of experience in journalism. She currently works as a reporter, editor and presenter/producer for PBC-Palestine TV and Jerusalem24 radio. She’s a UN and Kelley School of Business alumna.

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