Beauty is in the eye of the researcher

Press Release

Rosemarie Fili wanted to study how Tongan perspectives of beauty differed from western views so she entered a beauty pageant in the Pacific Kingdom, and won.

Rosemarie, 22, entered the Miss Heilala pageant – effectively the Miss Tonga competition – as part of her post-graduate studies at the University of Waikato and says it was a plan to learn more about Tongan women’s perspectives of beauty.

“I told my professor, Lynda Johnston, I wanted to look at definitions of beauty from a Tongan context. I wanted to look at how the Miss Heilala contest identified beauty in young women and how local girls looked at that and whether they followed that idea or have their own perspectives of beauty,” she says.

“People have studied these things from the outside but I wanted to see what goes on behind those closed doors.”

She now has the chance to broaden her studies even further, with her new title guaranteeing her entry into the Miss South Pacific competition, being held in the Solomon Islands in December.

Rosemarie – who was born in Christchurch but returned to live in Tonga when she was just 3 months old, before completing her schooling in Palmerston North – hopes to complete her post-graduate degree in Social Sciences with Honours later this year before fulfilling one of the conditions of her win and returning to Tonga to work as an ambassador for the government for six months.

“That’s part of the deal and I’m actually really looking forward to it.”

Following that, she hopes to return to Waikato University to complete her masters degree.

At the competition, Rosemarie won several individual categories ahead of the overall title and while it was based on traditional pageants, there was no swimsuit section and additional sections for traditional wear, traditional dance and talent.

For winning the title, Rosemarie also won cash and flights to Los Angeles and she is still surprised she won.

“There were so many beautiful ladies, I honestly didn’t believe it,” she says.

“I went into it for research and a bit of fun but it turned out better than I ever hoped it would.”

And while she’s not planning on abandoning her studies for life on the catwalk, it would be nice if there was one positive spinoff from the pageant.

“I’m hoping for an A+ because I won.”

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

Right now Kaniva News provides a free, politically independent, bilingual news service for readers around the world that is absolutely unique. We are the largest New Zealand-based Tongan news service, and our stories reach Tongans  wherever they are round the world. But as we grow, there are increased demands on Kaniva News for translation into Tongan on our social media accounts and for the costs associated with expansion. We believe it is important for Tongans to have their own voice and for Tongans to preserve their language, customs and heritage. That is something to which we are strongly committed. That’s why we are asking you to consider sponsoring our work and helping to preserve a uniquely Tongan point of view for our readers and listeners.

Latest news

Related news