Romanticize this

Minutes after Catriona Gray won the Miss Universe 2018 crown for the Philippines on Monday, armchair critics emerged from the woodwork to begin picking away at her victory.

Romanticize this

As is often the case, they took to Twitter to share their two centavos’ worth about how they felt Gray romanticized poverty when she replied to the last query posed to her in the contest’s Q&A portion.

“What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life, and how would you apply it to your time as Miss Universe?” she was asked.

Gray replied that she had worked a lot in the slums of Tondo, where she witnessed how life was difficult. While she sympathized with Filipinos who lived in that condition, she said she would always look for beauty in it.

“I’ve always taught myself to look for the beauty in it, to look for the beauty in the faces of the children, and to be grateful. I would bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining, and to assess where I could give something, where I could provide something as a spokesperson. If I could teach also people to be grateful, we could have an amazing world where negativity could not grow and foster, and children would have a smile on their face. Thank you,” Catriona said.

Twitter user @jiatirol said people should stop romanticizing poverty as “resiliency and gratefulness” while @rizadivinee said Gray should immerse herself among the masses when she returns to the Philippines.

“We shouldn’t romanticize poverty [and highlight] smiles in (sic) children’s faces despite their situation… How about children smiling because their lives are in order, and they can go to school, eat properly and live in decent housing?” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Another Twitter user, @MilllennialOfMNL, said Gray should be taught that seeing the beauty in everything is not enough and that what the poor Filipinos need is empowerment to get out of poverty.

Sadly, it seems, some Filipinos simply cannot take a win for what it is and need to inject a dose of negativity from their lofty positions behind a computer screen or mobile phone. The crab mentality is alive and well.

What these armchair critics don’t realize, perhaps, is that even before joining her first national pageant, Gray had already started her own charity project called Paraiso: The Bright Beginnings Project, which aims to raise funds for a preschool in Tondo, Manila. She also supports the Love Yourself PH project, which advocates HIV/AIDS awareness, and volunteers as a teacher’s assistant to the students of Young Focus NGO.

How many of her critics who rushed to judge her can truly say they have done as much? Can they truly and fairly begrudge her positive outlook?

In this age of social media and instant opinions, it’s easy to get ahead of the facts. Traditional and online media can aggravate the situation by cherry picking and highlighting controversial opinions and passing them off as news.

But as Clint Eastwood, playing the cop Dirty Harry, dryly observed, opinions are like the orifices on posteriors. Everyone has one. That doesn’t make them particularly noteworthy or newsworthy.

Topics: Catriona Gray , Miss Universe 2018 , Critics , Paraiso: The Bright Beginnings Project , Love Yourself PH , Young Focus NGO
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