A Burmese pageant agency led by a 22-year-old man with links to some of the world’s biggest beauty competitions is grooming five women in the country to compete internationally.
Miss Golden Land Myanmar Organization is one of four pageant agencies in Burma that trains local contestants for overseas beauty competitions, which have become popular as the country opens up after half a century of military rule.
The Rangoon-based pageant agency on Thursday selected five women from more than 400 applicants to compete at competitions in the Philippines, Thailand, Jordan, Taiwan and Poland in October and November.
M Ja Sai will compete at Miss Grand International, Han Thi at Miss Supranational, Ei Mon Khine at Miss Earth, Angel Lamung at Miss Intercontinental, and Helen Myo Ko at Miss Face of Beauty International.
“Each will represent Myanmar [Burma] at the five pageant contests for this year,” said Han Zaw Latt, 22, who co-founded his pageant agency two years ago and is now its national director. He is the youngest national director of a beauty organization in the world, according to the Philippines-based Missosology, a website that analyzes international beauty pageants.
“A main challenge of being young is that people don’t trust as easily a young person looking for sponsors or organizing events,” he said.
He said the five women had received talent training and would be supported in the international contests.
The Miss Golden Land Myanmar Organization, which has contracts with international pageants, received 426 applicants in May who wanted to compete abroad. It chose 150 women in the first round and whittled the list down to five women on Thursday, with help from a guest judge, Mutya Johanna Datul from the Philippines, who is the current Miss Supranational 2013.
In 2012, for the first time in six decades, a Burmese contestant entered an international pageant. Nang Khin Zay Yar won a people’s choice award at the Miss International pageant in Japan.
Last year, more Burmese women took part in five different pageants, including the Miss Universe competition in Russia. In May of this year, May Myat Noe won the title at the Miss Asia Pacific World pageant, hosted in South Korea.
In November, Khin Wai Phyo Han will compete at Miss International 2014, after being crowned Miss Myanmar International last week. Meanwhile, Sharr Htut Eaindra is receiving training in the Philippines before competing at the Miss Universe competition.
Not only young Burmese women are entering international pageants. Burma’s Myo Htut Naing, aka Khar Ra, is currently competing at the Mr. Asia 2014 contest in Hong Kong.