The wait will soon be over!
In the coming days, more than 80 of the most beautiful ladies in the world will converge in Manila to fight for the chance to wear the DIC crown and be catapulted into worldwide fame as the next Miss Universe. But before that, it’s time for us, pageant fans, to pick who we think are the early favorites in the competition.
For this first list, I intentionally did not rank the ladies and placed them into the Top 5-10-15-20 categories which I presume best suit them. Also, I specifically chose photos they posted on their Instagram accounts which I believe best represent their personalities. Let’s do this!
BELGIUM | STEPHANIE GELDHOF Belgium is making sure they’ll make it twice-in-a-row after making it to the semis in 2015. 19-year-old Stephanie is one of the youngest contestants, but one of the prettiest! This jack-of-all-trades (she sings, pains and models and is into gymnastics and swimming, too) is definitely an upgrade from last year. She’s currently underrated but wait ‘til she arrives in Manila!
MALAYSIA | KIRAN JASSAL By reading her answers to the Missosology Beauty Talks, one could say that Kiran has Lara Dutta vibes all over her. She’s educated, classy, and needless to say, beautiful. Weak sash plays to her advantage, but with her wit and beauty this 20-year-old bookworm could place on her own merits.
PERU | VALERIA PIAZZA Valeria, 26, is the only candidate this year apart from the Philippines who was crowned by Pia Wurtzbach during her national pageant. And from that moment, we could see that this fine lady could measure up to the Miss Universe beauty standards. She’s a got an impressive work and academic background and lives an active lifestyle. But what makes her an interesting candidate is her effortless sophistication and radiating charm.
PUERTO RICO | BRENDA JIMENEZ This island territory traditionally do well in Miss Universe but their last two campaigns proved futile. But this time, they’ll be sending a top-notch lady that could break the spell. Brenda, 22, exudes a good mix of fresh and spice, making her a sight to behold on stage. Also, she’s miles better in terms of facial beauty than the girl she replaced.
TURKEY | TANSU CAKIR At first glance, she looks like Filipino actress Carla Abellana, but a closer look at her makes you say, “Finally, Turkey got it right this time”. Tansu, 21, owns one of the most beautiful faces in the competition and all her photo shoots prove that. She has the potential, but a great stage performance, which we are yet to see, could seal the deal for her.
AUSTRALIA | CARIS TIIVEL Perth native Caris, 23, is effortlessly beautiful. But what makes her adorable is her soft-spoken nature and her love for the arts. She is also an experienced model so working the stage won’t be a problem. The Land Down Under never fails to send a stunner to Miss Universe. Since 2008, they only missed the cut once (in 2013) and this year it seems the streak is going to continue.
BARBADOS | SHANNON HARRIS How to stage a great comeback at Miss Universe? Send a stunner with a gorgeous face and vavavoom body like Shannon. This 22-year-old professional model from Bridgetown is the first Miss Barbados in over nine years. Weak sash might be her disadvantage, but that face and great presence would be too hard to ignore.
ECUADOR | CONNIE JIMÉNEZ This girl is underrated! Most pageant fans are crazy over the popular Latinas, not realizing there are a few girls like Connie who could pull off surprises. This 21-year-old agribusiness engineer could even hold a candle beside Pia Wurtzbach during the latter’s visit in Ecuador. Connie’s boyfriend died recently and this sad experience will surely drive her to succeed in the pageant.
FRANCE | IRIS MITTENAERE After years of just settling in the Top 10/15, France finally came close to the crown with a Top 5 finish in 2015. This year is seems the country is bent on finally winning the crown and is sending the main winner of the national pageant to Manila. Iris, 23, is definitely someone to watch out for. Her sophistication and effortless beauty could be her lucky charm.
VENEZUELA | MARIAM HABACH Her Miss Venezuela victory wasn’t warmly received, but Mariam is starting to prove her worth. The transformation of this 20-year-old Dentistry student has been remarkable so far. From her walk, to her body and posture as well as her styling, she is bent on bringing her country back to the Top 5. She’s not the most beautiful Venezuelan delegate, but as they say, ‘never count Venezuela out’.
CANADA | SIERA BEARCHELL This 23-year-old law student and entrepreneur is a well-spoken lady (in fact she has one of the most impressive Beauty Talks in Missosology.Org). But aside from her impressive portfolio, she has already proven herself in the beauty department as she was adjudged 1st runner-up in Miss Supranational 2015. If Miss Universe needs “a spokesperson who happens to be beautiful”, then they must be looking for Siera.
INDONESIA | KEZIA WAROUW With Asians finally getting noticed in Miss Universe, expect the region to send stunners. One of them is the statuesque Kezia, 25, who will attempt to make it four-in-a-row for Indonesia. Her pageant training the in Philippines for sure would play to her advantage come the most crucial parts of the competition.
NETHERLANDS | ZOE IVORY One of the most striking beauties in this edition is Ivory, a 23-year-old a professional model and dancer. It’s like seeing Megan Young and Azra Akin compete for Miss Universe, but with more fierceness. This girl has lots of modeling experience, but it would be interesting to see her transform from a model to a beauty queen.
UKRAINE | ALENA SPODYNYUK Ukraine had a relatively good track record in Miss Universe and even came so close to winning in 2011. But after fading in the background in the last two editions, the country is back with a stunner! Alena,19, is a person of grace and elegance you won’t even believe she was a professional handball player. In a sea of fierce and energy, it would be refreshing to see her calmness and majesty.
USA | DESHAUNA BARBER Deshauna’s military background was a man-bites-dog kind of story in the pageant world that many thought it made her win the Miss USA title. But give a closer look and you’ll realize this 27-year-old IT analyst actually has the stage presence and gift of gab that the MUO is looking for. In photos she might look normal, but in person she is full of charisma.
BRAZIL | RAISSA SANTANA Raissa’s national pageant win made waves internationally as she is the first black Miss Brasil in three decades. But setting aside that fact, this 21-year-old Marketing graduate has all the attributes that makes her a contender in Miss Universe. Her distinct look, banging body and impressive stage presence during her national finals could bring her closer to the DIC crown.
COLOMBIA | ANDREA TOVAR Andrea has already sealed her spot as one of the girls to beat the moment she was crowned Senorita Colombia in November 2015. For more than a year now, this 23-year-old has prepared so much to avenge the humiliation experienced by Ariadna Gutierrez. She has what is takes to win the crown as she is a complete package: tall, beautiful, engaging and prepared. But it would be awkward to see Colombia winning in Philippine soil.
MEXICO | KRISTAL SILVA From her 2013 Miss Earth stint, Kristal has definitely improved a lot! Now more polished, properly styled and with a great sense of fashion, this 25-year-old Molly Isler dead-ringer could give Mexico its third Miss Universe crown.
PHILIPPINES | MAXINE MEDINA When Maxine won Bb Pilipinas, many thought a back-to-back would be impossible mainly because she wasn’t that impressive in interviews. When it was confirmed that the pageant will be held in Manila, many said she’s fortunate she’s get better chances. But weeks before the pageant begins, she surprised everyone with her transformation. Her walk improved, styling on point, her interview skills better with renewed confidence. The hope for a back-to-back suddenly reawakens.
THAILAND | CHALITA SUANSANE Chalita, 22, wasn’t the mega favorite in her national pageant, but she has earned praises for her consistency. She’s probably one of the most prepared and well-funded candidates this year, and her wardrobe press conference last week was proof to that. After last year’s drought-breaking placement, expect Thailand to slowly but surely make its way up. Haraya