Photographs of Miss Canada in an outrageous hockey-inspired dress went viral last week. It was awesome.
When it comes to beauty pageants I’m so ignorant of the topic that not only did I not know there was a category for best national costume in the Miss Universe Pageant – for which her dress was designed – but I wasn’t even aware my country still competed in the competition.
“I thought we stopped all that silliness back in the ‘80s,” my equally clueless friend said in response to the polarizing pictures. Almost. According to Wikipedia, Miss Canada was founded in 1946 and closed up shop for 16 years between 1993 and 2008. It was re-established in 2009, apparently with more of a focus on personality than beauty.
Observing Chanel Beckenlehner from Ontario in this funny costume, I would say she scored high on both counts.
With 10 hockey sticks fanned out like wings, netting over her Marie-Antoinette-ish wig, a Stanley Cup hat on her head and a working scoreboard behind her indicating a 20-14 lead for the home team,
I didn’t think it could get much better than that.
But then I noticed the rest of the costume that included shoulder and elbow pads, thigh-high boots resembling skates and a billowy ice rink for a skirt. Like her, it was stunning.
But, as we all know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and reviews have been mixed. Along with the many favourable opinions online, there was even more indicating an immense dislike.
Some comments had me laughing out loud and the ones that said, “She’s an embarrassment to Canada,” had me rolling my eyes. I’ve read those exact same five words written about me several times over the years.
At least Chanel was fully clothed – who knows what I might have worn in her position. (Clearly my cartoonist Jim Hunt has an idea.)
What is so embarrassing about a confident woman with a sense of ha-ha anyway?
She didn’t attack, molest, steal or otherwise harm anyone, so I’m not bothered by her in the least. Quite the opposite—I’m proud of her. She gained worldwide attention for Canada in a light-hearted way and she almost had me tuning in to watch the Miss Universe Pageant for the first time since I was a child.
“How could this possibly interest you?” one of my friends groaned when she saw the pictures.
“It’s so ugly. And why hockey? That’s such a Canadian stereotype. Might as well dress up like a giant beaver or an Eskimo in an igloo.”
Hmm. Maybe next year.
After choosing from 30 different concepts, our current Miss Canada decided on hockey as her theme—a sport our country is universally known for.
The fact that the outfit was so over-the-top and had her standing out prominently amongst a group of 88 other gorgeous women, many of whom were also wearing elaborate costumes, is a testament not just to Chanel’s humour, but her intelligence.
“She’s not smart or funny,” my friend disagreed. “She’s a bimbo and if she hadn’t been born beautiful we wouldn’t be talking about her right now.”
While it’s true this woman obviously won the genetic jackpot the day she was born, it doesn’t mean she’s not smart and funny as well. I could write a long list of women lucky enough to have all three of these attributes. Her Canadian costume designer, Alex Kavanagh, seems to be one of them.
Brand new to the pageant world, Alex was more known for her impressive work in horror movies than beauty contests before this happened. Now she can add to her resumé the distinct honour of creating an extraordinary get-up that placed in the top five for one of the most memorable Miss Universe contestants in recent years.
Love it or hate it, the flamboyant hockey ensemble is unique, unforgettable, playful and fun. Chanel Beckenlehner scores 99 out of 100 from me. If only she’d been missing a tooth…
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com.