Queen for a Day: An Afternoon at a Domestic Worker Beauty Pageant

All pictures by Marisse Caine

What if you could, for one day, be anyone you wanted?

At Cuppage Plaza last Sunday, this was a question that turned into a dream fulfilled for many of Singapore’s foreign domestic workers. About 50 of them in total, both Filipino and Indonesian, they cycled through 4 costume changes, some of which were built on themes of work, cultural backgrounds, and romantic aspirations.

It was particularly poignant as many of these women are here in Singapore, away from their children and homes. We see them as employees—specifically foreign domestic helpers—when to their own families they are both mothers and breadwinners.

If some of these women had a choice, they would have chosen to be something else. And so for this one afternoon, they got to make these ambitions real.

Pamela Wildheart, owner of Wildheart Productions and the organiser of RAMPSTAR.
Lia Rizmayanti, winner of RAMPSTAR 2016.
There were only 3 rehearsal sessions before the competition. For many of these women, these were Sundays they could have been spending resting or hanging out with friends.
Few of these women have had pageant experience. But this was a celebration, not a competition.
Lots of nerves as it's about time to take the stage.
But all smiles anyway.
It starts! All the phones come out.
If you didn't take a picture of yourself at the event, did it really happen?
An employer who's present to support his helper waits with a bouquet of flowers as she takes the stage.
The audience goes nuts when this happens.
The grand finale.
Lots of anticipation as the winners are about to be announced.
We've never seen so many cameras in one place before.

If you’re wondering who won—it doesn’t matter. As RAMPSTAR’s executive producer Pamela Wildheart says, the event is meant to be a celebration of real women. Many of these women have never had the chance to walk on stage before, and the event is meant to show that beauty is not about height, age, figure, talents, IQ or one’s background.

Instead, beautiful women respect themselves and other women.

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