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Night of big hair and lashes as contestants vie for Miss Lebanon crown

Date

Ilya Gridneff

The eyes have it ... 2012 Miss Lebanon Australia contestant Neda Valaei gets ready to take the stage in Pyrmont yesterday. The competition was won by 21-year-old Deedee Zibara.

The eyes have it ... 2012 Miss Lebanon Australia contestant Neda Valaei gets ready to take the stage in Pyrmont yesterday. The competition was won by 21-year-old Deedee Zibara. Photo: Steven Siewert

IT'S all about the eyes. The lashes. The big hair. And, for the 17 women from Sydney's Lebanese diaspora who competed in the 12th annual Miss Lebanon Australia, it was about pride in their heritage and community.

Monie Gabriel, the event's head of beauty, said there was no end to last-minute hair and make-up preparations needed for that ''specific Lebanese look''. ''Lebanese women are known for their striking eyes,'' she said. ''It's the eyes and long lashes but with all that they still love to emphasise it a bit more.

''The Arab eye is beautiful, and we like to accentuate the eye with dark eye liner and eye extensions. The look is a bit like a cat. The big hair, too. It's a very specific look.''

Miss Lebanon Australia contestant Renee Mazloum doing the final touches to her eyes. Click for more photos

Miss Lebanon Australia Beauty Contest, 2012

It's all about the eyes. The lashes. The big hair. And for the 17 women from Sydney's Lebanese diaspora who competed in th 12th Annual Miss Lebanon Australia, it was about pride in their heritage and community. The Miss Lebanon Australia Beauty Contest 2012 was held at Doltone House, Pyrmont. Photos by Steven Siewert and Marco Del Grande. Follow us at http://twitter.com/photosSMH Photo: Steven Siewert

The black-tie affair, held last night at Doltone House at Jones Bay Wharf, was a who's who of the Lebanese community. It included Alex ''Little Al'' Taouil, who attracted major sponsors, the Lebanese ambassador, Jean Daniel, and the Parramatta property baron Joe Khattar of Dyldam Group.

The competitors, aged from 17 to 22, had worked with the businesswoman Norah Blackman, who trained them on all the nuances of the cut-throat world of beauty pageants.

And in efforts to minimise past scandal and reduce allegations of corruption or beauty pageant bribery, Ms Blackman instigated a rule that ''no one on the judging panel is to be Arabic or have a Lebanese background, whatsoever''.

Instead, the cosmetic company director Peter Nicholas, criminal lawyer Dennis Stewart and Lauryn Eagle of The Celebrity Apprentice fame were enlisted to judge the best in swimwear, casual wear and evening wear.

The contest was won by Deedee Zibara, 21, who will now represent Australia against 32 countries in the International Miss Lebanon pageant later this year in Beirut.

''This event, whatever religious group, brings the Lebanese community together, to be proud of who we are. There are both Muslim and Christian girls competing,'' Ms Blackman said. ''A lot of the negative press about the community comes, I think, from when our passion bursts out.''

The director of Miss Lebanon Australia, Joe Khoury, the editor-in-chief of a Lebanese newspaper, said the community faced challenges and too much negative press. ''The pageant is not about politics but about beauty, heritage, contribution to community. We raise money for charity. It's a get-together,'' he said. ''It's only a few in the Lebanese community causing trouble. Every community has the same problem.''

57 comments

  • Shose chicks are fully sick mate

    Commenter
    Jason
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    April 30, 2012, 10:07AM
    • As a muslim who wears the hijab, I wouldnt be allowed to enter this competition due to refusal to demean myself by wearing swimwear in front of strangers. This is purely a Maronite Christian event with the token Muslim to not appear exclusive. What is the purpose of beauty paegants in this day and age and how does it create anything positive other than creating creases in the trousers of an overly-sexualised society?

      Commenter
      Leb Muslim Chick
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 10:47AM
      • Amen to that!

        Commenter
        Maxdacat
        Date and time
        April 30, 2012, 10:55AM
      • See how they are smiling and voluntarily in this? For fun obviously. To each their own.

        Commenter
        Duh
        Date and time
        April 30, 2012, 11:03AM
      • Australia is a country where you are free to wear what you like and have an opinion. Its also a country where women are treated equally in modern society and the workforce rather than be expected to be stay at home slaves, and are not forced to wear full body covering dress.

        Swimwear is part of our culture in recreation, sport and beauty. If you don't like this take your complaint to your Lebanese community, who at least from this are embracing a part of Australian culture.

        Commenter
        Rourkus
        Location
        Treechange
        Date and time
        April 30, 2012, 11:08AM
      • That is your choice, not defined by a religious sect.
        This is not demeaning of any of the contestants, in fact it it's more idolising of them!

        Ironicly the 'token muslim' iirc is a family friend of one of the contestants.

        There are a lot of contests, some you may not like some you might. At the end of the day, most are simply used to reach personal goals.

        If anything you should be supporting people from your own country not judging them based on something petty as what religion the family they were born into practices.

        Commenter
        user
        Date and time
        April 30, 2012, 11:11AM
      • You mean like forced marriages or women not allowed to work or even drive cars?

        Commenter
        George
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        April 30, 2012, 11:18AM
      • That's the wonderful thing about Australia... You can wear a wear a g-string bikini or a hijab - it's your free choice; as it is for young women to enter beauty pageants.

        Commenter
        PS
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        April 30, 2012, 11:23AM
      • "I wouldnt be allowed to enter this competition" do you not mean......"I choose not to enter this competition"......you sound oppressed and controlled.

        Is this the definition of the "freedom" your Hijab gives you?

        What else do you need permission to do?

        Commenter
        Damian
        Location
        sydney
        Date and time
        April 30, 2012, 11:55AM
      • "who at least from this are embracing a part of Australian culture"
        Hilarious! I expect evening gowns and three piece suits are part of our culture as well. What is part of our culture is the somewhat disconcerting tendency to feel that it's OK to sit in a room and evaluate other people based on their adherence to a patriarchal ideal body type.

        Commenter
        Patrickb
        Date and time
        April 30, 2012, 12:58PM

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