To everyone who felt the right to express how the 2012 Miss Haiti Universe, Christela Jacques, a 19-year-old with no prior pageantry experience, let them down, I’m writing to let you know that it is not she who disappointed Haiti, but you and your tactless actions. To everyone who felt the need to attack the young woman despite all of her efforts through various social media outlets about her performance, I’m writing this to say, “Shame on you.” Yesterday I came across a repulsive video (posted below) published by a man who claimed to represent the Haitian media. He interviewed the very stressed and unprepared Miss Haiti Universe on a mobile device. His tone was so condescending, cold, and facetious that it was impossible for the young lady to hide her vulnerability through her almost teary eyes. In the video, she announced that she didn’t think she deserved to represent Haiti in this very tough competition. She sadly walked away from the camera as if her shoulders were carrying giant weights that were far too heavy for her small frame.
When I watched the video I saw a beautiful, lost, and very honest girl who was tired, and who simply didn’t know how to handle all of the attention and stress that came her way. The interviewer asked her irrelevant questions that were not there to improve her situation, but to worsen every emotion than she already felt. The way she was portrayed in that video was insensible. And I felt even more flabbergasted to read what some of his subscribers had to say about Christela’s efforts.
This article is not about applauding mediocrity. Many things were pointed out, and she even had the courage to admit them. She was both stressed and lacked confidence. She compared herself to the other contestants and felt self-conscious not only on her looks but overall ability to make it in the top 16. We all heard her say it, and we felt it in her voice. Seeing her come out to say these words did not make me feel embarrassed or ashamed that she was the one to represent Haiti, but it showed her true essence, which is purity, honesty, and innocence.
For those of you who don’t speak French, I took the liberty of translating and transcribing the interview. (Please see below.)
GD: Hello Christela. All is well?
CJ: Hello. All is good.
GD: OK, tell me are you very excited to be in Vegas to represent Haiti in the Miss Universe?
CJ: Very excited!
GD: You’re excited, but are you also confident?
CJ: A little bit. I’m a little stressed.
GD: Stressed, why?
CJ: There are so many pretty girls who are very interesting. They can do everything to make it.
GD: And you? You’re not very confident in your abilities or your beauty?
CJ: I tell to myself sometimes that it’s not going to work. I can’t really do anything. I have some friends who tell me to gain more confidence and everything will work…
GD: What are some remarks that the coaches here have told you about your performance?
CJ: At times they tell me to smile more, and I will look more beautiful.
GD: You don’t smile enough? You don’t have enough confidence?
CJ: No. It’s my first time.
GD: Well, it was the first time for Anedie Azael and Sarodj Bertin, but they were more confident. And how is the experience at this moment?
CJ: Really well.
GD: Really well, how? You’re amusing yourself and discovering new things?
CJ: Yes with the girls, and we’re practicing.
GD: But in terms of performance or competition, it’s not working?
CJ: No, it’s working! Just a little bit.
GD: No, but for you?
CJ: Yes, it’s fine.
GD: Do you think you’ll be part of the final 16?
CJ: I don’t know yet, but I would like that.
GD: There’s no hope? Do you think you worked hard enough to be in the finalists?
CJ: Tomorrow, we will see. I will give my all.
GD: So this is not only a “tomorrow” thing. It’s a long process. So with everything you’ve done so far, do you think you’ve performed well enough to be in the finals?
CJ: I don’t know.
GD: So there’s really no hope to think that Haiti will win the title?
CJ: I can’t really say anything.
GD: What does that mean you can’t say anything? It’s you! Everything depends on you! It’s you who represents Haiti.
CJ: It can happen that I will not be part of the final 16.
GD: OK. There’s something I don’t understand. There’s really no competition when it comes to choosing the Miss Universe for Haiti?
GD: How does that work?
CJ: The casting happens really fast. The same day, they did the casting for Fashion Week. Some girls came for Fashion Week and others came for the Miss Haiti Universe.
GD: How many were there?
CJ: There were about 10 or 9.
GD: Who made the selection?
GD: All alone?
CJ: Other people, Dayanne Danier, Jimmy Moise…
GD: It was not open to the public?
GD: Normally, it doesn’t happen that way. There’s a big competition. Everyone sits down, and gets to see the performance of everyone and then, a judge makes the selection. But in this case, that didn’t happen?
GD: OK. Do you think you deserve to represent Haiti?
GD: You don’t think you deserve to represent Haiti?! Are you sure of this answer? I’m filming you.
CJ: Yes. Yes.
GD: OK. Great! Well, tonight’s event is not open to everyone. It’s only for the contestants? Is this dress from Haiti?
GD: Well can we wish you good luck even if you’re not confident?
CJ: Thank you.
GD: Well, we’ll be here. There are five of us. There’s another girl who isn’t here who will be here to cheer you on. You’ll have five Haitians in the room to cheer you on.
Now that you’ve read it, was it not absolutely repulsive? Yes, Christela was not a terrific speaker during the interview. In fact, the interviewer spoke more than her. She wasn’t very detailed with her answers, and she showed no real enthusiasm. But what is one supposed to do when they’re being put down in such a ruse manner? She felt the negative vibe, but she decided to be nice and continued to respond to his questions.
Let’s continue to what she also shared about how the selection was made. It’s clear that there was absolutely no preparation before she was sent to Vegas. Christela was not born in a family that raised her to compete in pageants. She was chosen in a closed casting of about 9 or 10 girls just weeks before the competition. She had no prior training, and she was not ready for such a big competition or even the way she was approached by the interviewer.
These questions to me felt like a form of attack. From the very beginning, the interview started on the wrong foot. Most of the time, an interview starts by either complimenting the person of interest, but that was not the case. It was as if it was the interviewer’s goal was to make it out all the way to Vegas just to discredit her and the title she held. How many times did he need to ask her about her performance? And why did he continue to press her even when she started to sound unsure of herself? Does it make people feel that good to put down others? What was the point of showing this weak side of this beautiful young woman? The ladies with the interviewer could have stepped in to offer words of support, but instead they let her walk away feeling worse than she already had before she met them.
This sort of interaction we have with each other needs to stop. The need to feel like we have to ridicule others so we can feel better about ourselves is absolutely pathetic. We need to show support to one another. And let’s start with the ones who need our help. Clearly, she was already chosen to represent the country, and nothing could be done about it at this point. So instead of humiliating her, the only choice we had was to help her. To give her a little bit of courage to keep going. It didn’t matter whether she would make it to the very top or if she would be the very last, she was Miss Haiti. She deserved all of our positive energy and encouragement. That interview is a perfect example of how we failed her and how we failed Haiti.