‘Beauty Alone is Not Enough’

By The Irrawaddy 5 October 2013

RANGOON — For the first time in over half a century, Burma will send a hopeful candidate to the Miss Universe pageant. Moe Set Wine, 25, was crowned Miss Myanmar 2013 in Rangoon on Thursday night, earning the chance to represent her country in the international competition next month. In this interview, the US-educated Miss Myanmar talks about overcoming her shyness to take the stage, while also sharing how she mentally prepared to model a swimsuit, what kind of social work she hopes to pursue in the future, and why her biggest priority next month will be showing off the beauty of Burma to the world.

Question: How did you prepared for this?

Answer: I went through some training, arranged by the organizers. I also exercised, and I studied for my general knowledge.

Q: Why did you decide to join the competition?

A: When I came back to Burma after my studies at California Lutheran University, one of my friends told me about the Miss Universe competition. I was interested in taking part because, if selected, I would have a chance to represent Burma.

Q: Even at the age of 25?

A: It’s not too late—it’s good timing, I think. If I was younger, I wouldn’t have any experience before entering this event. Also, I wouldn’t have finished my studies. Now is the perfect time.

Q: Do you feel confident about the international competition?

A: I have to represent Burma. I want to show the world what Burma is all about, and who the Burmese are.

Q: Whether or not you win, what are your future plans in Burma?

A: I want to help empower women with established women organizations. Later I will form my own, as I have no experience so far.

Q: What will be your main challenge in the Miss Universe competition?

A: We Burmese are shy. We feel a bit nervous in front of many people. I think that’s my weak point, too.

Q: You have spent some time in the West. Have you been influenced by Western culture?

A: I only accept what’s good for me—it’s my nature. It’s useless to be shy all the time. Self-confidence is important, too. Sometimes I need to go outside my comfort zone, especially when I join a contest.

Q: You joined this contest. Does that mean you have confidence in your beauty?

A: Beauty alone is not enough to become Miss Universe. The most important things is whether I can represent Burma. I hope I can do that.

Q: Do you hope to win Miss Universe?

A: I want people out there to know more about Burma. That’s more important than winning the Miss Universe crown.

Q: But let’s say you do win. What would be your next step?

A: Social work, and I think I would accomplish more with the Miss title. I could persuade more people, and they would willingly listen. That would be a privilege. For a movie star, you do not need that much. Good looks are enough.

Q: Do you have other weaknesses, apart from being shy?

A: Yes, I do. I do not walk elegantly.

Q: How did you feel walking around on stage in a two-piece swimsuit? Were you self-conscious?

A: I had to imagine that I was just going out for a swim, and I had to remind myself that everyone wears swimsuits. After thinking like that, I felt more relaxed.

Q: How do you feel after being selected as the Burmese candidate to take part in Miss Universe?

A: I feel as if I have been granted a chance to climb a big mountain, because today’s event isn’t the end of the game. There’s a long road ahead. I have to compete with candidates from other countries. I have to think fast because every move I make and every word I speak will represent Burma and the Burmese.