Catriona Gray on pageantry: Not merely a show of pretty women

Catriona on pageantry: Not merely a show of good-looking women

/ 12:25 AM February 06, 2024

Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray is arts ambassador of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)--MARINEL CRUZ

Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray is arts ambassador of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)–MARINEL CRUZ

Age should not limit our potential,” said Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray as a reaction to the news that a 69-year-old fashion designer has qualified to compete in a beauty pageant that will send a representative to the Miss Universe Philippines competition.

“I think it’s wonderful. I’ve always loved the different stories that come from the platform of pageantry, whether it be as a trans community advocate or, now, in showing that age is just a number. Especially as a woman, I feel like age used to kind of limit us in our potential. In fact, there are terms that are always thrown at women, like, ‘Oh your biological clock is ticking!” or ‘These are your prime years!’ Just to see a woman who is unapologetically going after her dream, why not? She is enjoying herself and is representing her community. I think those are all great things,” Catriona told a group of reporters shortly after her participation at the launch of the National Arts Month (NAM) celebrations at the Metropolitan Theater in Manila.


Catriona has been the arts ambassador of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), organizer of the annual NAM event, for four years now.


On the inclusion of transgender women in the pageant, Catriona said she also fully supports it. “I see pageantry as a platform that gives to women. If I believe that it was just a show to have criteria and to look beautiful, and to fit a beauty standard, I don’t think I would support pageantry the way that I do. I support it because it gives all these women from different countries and different walks of life a voice and a platform, that’s what I think the power of pageantry is,” she pointed out. Catriona also said she is very much aware of the criticism that Miss Universe has been getting in response to all the changes it has imposed. “We’ve come across things that are considered too traditional. As the rules are starting to be lifted, I can understand why this rubs them the wrong way. But for me, I’m a fan of pageantry, but I also love what it stands for,” she began.

‘Forward movements’

“It gave me a platform to talk about my advocacy. It gives other women a platform to talk about what they want, or showcase something, or represent a community. I see pageantry as a lens of that, not just of beautiful women who are fit, who are walking onstage,” Catriona said as a reply to a question by “TV Patrol.”

“That’s why I support all these forward movements in terms of what the organization is. It’s something that I’m happy about, but I understand that other people who may have a traditional sense and just want to have a fashion show with great-looking women.”

Meanwhile, Catriona said she was happy to be serving as NCCA arts ambassador for four years, “because it’s a cause that [resonates with me].” She added: “Why this one? It’s because I’m a learner and appreciator of the arts, especially Philippine arts. I feel like it’s a journey of discovery for me since I was not born in the Philippines. Moving here as a teen, with fresh eyes, I really grew a loving appreciation of all things related to the arts, whether performances or textiles,” she said.

“With that found appreciation, I get so excited to share it with everyone. That’s the kind of energy that I bring into the role of an ambassador, because I’m in no way an expert in any and all of the arts. I’m a lover of arts, and, hopefully, I can share that energy with others,” she pointed out. “As ambassador, I am able to sample the different kinds of arts. I’m grateful to witness it or sometimes take part in it, not necessarily joining onstage … If anything, I would love to do provincial trips. You see, two of those four years were during the pandemic, so going to the provinces to watch the shows and activities in person was quite limited. I look forward to exploring that this year.”

Catriona expressed interest in going, particularly to Albay, her mom’s home province. “That’s also the reason I chose the lava gown for Miss Universe—it’s a symbolism of that. But in terms of programs, I’m looking forward to being a spectator and observer of all the various performances. Who knows? Maybe I’ll join them onstage, too,” she declared.


The 2024 NAM celebration, which happens this February, carries the theme “Ani ng Sinig, Bayang Malikhain.” It involves the seven NCCA subcommissions, namely music, architecture and allied arts, cinema, dance, dramatic arts, literary arts and virtual arts. INQ

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TAGS: Catriona Gray, National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA)

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