by Ha Nguyen
Viet Nam has many beautiful women and a significant number of them become models, but the country still lacks a professional model training school to help them compete at international contests, Elite Viet Nam director Thuy Nga said.
The country held its first national beauty pageant in 1988, and since then dozens of beautiful girls have been crowned Miss Viet Nam, but many still lack the confidence to shine in front of an international jury and audience, Nga said.
The 2008 Miss Universe hosted by Viet Nam made relevant agencies and organisers aware of the high standards of an international competition, where contestants must be healthy, well trained, well behaved, allow their personality to come across and be able to manage the stress of competition, Nga said.
During the competition, Nguyen Thuy Lam was chosen in the final 15, apparently due to her host country nationality rather than her ability, and she was soon eliminated.
Nga attributes Lam's failure to the organisers who hadn't equipped Lam with the skills to properly compete in the group, and she displayed weaknesses in both her physical performance and knowledge compared to other contestants.
The following year, in 2009, Viet Nam's Vo Hoang Yen was part of the competition's final group, but also lost.
Director of Miss Universe Japan Ines Ligron said although Yen was a beautiful girl, her beauty lacked the natural spirit to win.
"You could think it's nonsense but I think those who wish to join a beauty competition should learn how to reflect their own natural beauty and personality in front of a jury and audience to win," said Nga.
Director of the PL Model company Ta Nguyen Phuc said Viet Nam still faces many difficulties in choosing a professional model to join an international competition.
Phuc said before being asked to join an international beauty pageant, models compete amongst each other and are selected for their knowledge, which includes fluency in a foreign language, whereas most model training companies are largely unprofessional and focus on developing models quickly.
He said there were more than 20 model training centres for young models in Ha Noi and HCM City, which attract teenagers and young girls, some of whom perform on professional catwalks from the age of 10.
"Modelling from such a young age can affect a model's behaviour and personality because they have access to money and are involved in stressful work situations for their young age," said Phuc.
Viet Nam's Model Association was set up four years ago to monitor the quality model training schools, but Phuc said the association has been largely powerless in exerting control.
American John Robert recently opened a centre to train models hoping to join the Miss Contest, charging a fee of US$6,700 per year, but Phuc said the quality of the centre's training has not yet been checked by an official agency.
Former model Thuy Hang said becoming a professional model was not simple, and besides the physical requirements, learning how to perform on a catwalk and express herself through her face was very difficult.
"I had to read lots of magazines and fashion literature and watch a lot of tapes to see how models around the world perform on the catwalk – I have a lot to learn from them," said Hang. — VNS