|Deborah with Brazil, Netherlands, who made top 16, and Aruba|
Everytime I spoke to someone when I was in Sao Paulo, Brazil for Miss Universe, it was pretty much the same thing.
Before Miss Universe 2011 final night:
"Oh my GOD I LOVE your girl! Malaysia is VERY impressive this year!"
"Look at my list! Look look LOOK I made a list! LOOK your girl is # 1/2/3/4/5!!"
"WOW your MALAYSIA IS STUNNING! STUN. NING!"
"SHE'S MY FAVOURITE!"
(You kinda get the picture..)
After Miss Universe 2011 final night:
"WHAT HAPPENED?? WHY DID SHE NOT PLACE??"
"I am so sorry. Something must've gone wrong. SOMETHING SOMEWHERE"
"Darling. I just want you to know, I thought she should've at least placed. She was beautiful in the prelims!"
"Its not your fault, its not her fault, its the JUDGES! HOW could they overlook HER!?"
(again, you get the picture..)
I had the same response to both types of comments. I just smiled, and said thanks.
It hurt, and I felt sad. For Deborah, she put in so much work into preparing herself.. For her family, who travelled more than halfway around the world to see their daughter (who many predicted would WIN), go unplaced. Of course, I was sad for Malaysia, our people and country, whose hopes were riding so high on Debs. And why not? People from ALL around the world predicted her to be the one to beat!
An unprecedented level of support flew out to Debs and I before and even after the pageant. We are both touched with the love that our country had in their hearts for us.
But it's still sad.
Now the 1 million dollar question is: If Deborah couldn't place, how will any other Malaysian do well at Miss Universe?
The answer is simple: There are different judges every year. Different political situations, different dramas, different countries hosting. I firmly believe that Deborah could've won, if situations would have been different. She would be just a deserving winner as Miss Angola, the reigning Miss Universe, is right now. But the thing is:
SO WOULD MANY OTHER GIRLS THAT NIGHT. (Be deserving winners, that is)
We must remember that all 89 girls had a certain level of beauty. A lot of them did not place, who were on the same 'level'. Arguably, some even were better than Debs! (My prediction was it'd have come down between Greece, Malaysia and Ukraine, and whoever answered the question best would win..)
The videos above are of the Preliminary competition, of which the girls were judged BEFORE the final night, in order to select the TOP 16 finalists. These videos do not do the girls justice, as they really did have much more stage presence than what you see on the vids.
Anyway. Bottom line is this: Such is the nature of competitions. The ones you think are best may not necessarily win. Point is, Deborah made us SO proud. I have not come across a Malaysian who did not firmly believe that she should've at least place. Furthermore, she played a role of actually bringing Malaysia TOGETHER in support of her. How great was that? Twitter was flooded with well wishes, the media covered her journey manically, and did you know that "Miss Universe" and "Miss Malaysia Deborah Henry" was the 3rd fastest rising search quotes on the net in Malaysia last week?!
Sometimes to win you just need Lady Luck on your side. Instead, Debs had all of Malaysia. She's come home with her head high, with 'Nothing' to show for the 'Everything' that she should be proud of!
Malaysia Boleh, Miss Universe! And one day, some day, you will recognize that too!