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Oleksandra Nikolaenko. Miss Tourism World - 2002
Ms Nikolayenko is a student of the Odesa National Law Academy; she works for Savrox Models Agency, Odesa. Oleksandra Nikolayenko won the title of Miss Tourism World–2002.
Her mother is an economist, and her father is an officer of the Armed Forces of Ukraine; her elder sister is a student. Her pet is a Rottweiler dog by the name of Michigan.
Is it true that at beauty contests, the participants are called out not by their personal names but by the name of the country they are from?
Yes, it is true.
The official slogan of the International Tourism Magazine is “The Attractive Face of Ukraine.” This is another title that you surely deserve, Ms Ukraine. Incidentally, how many crowns have you already gathered?
Impressive. But it must be pretty hard to maintain a steady position among the very few most beautiful women in the world?
I’d rephrase the question into — is it hard to be a woman? Yes, I find it’s not easy. We have all kinds of secrets, and we have to have quite a few strengths, and one of the woman’s greatest strengths is an ability to be versatile.
How does it feel to be constantly in the centre of men’s attention?
A lot depends on who shows this attention. I can’t deny it’s pleasant to be in the centre of attention, but I absolutely cannot stand any impudence, rudeness or presumption, no matter what it can be motivated by.
You’ve been to many countries of the world — did you discover any differences in the ways men show their attention?
Yes, I have, and I find it to be a very interesting phenomenon. It is connected with traditions and general culture, and of course, it can vary from man to man. The most impressive exhibition of male attention I saw in South Africa when we were on a visit to a Zulu village. The chief of the local tribe greeted us and then began waving his spear, dancing and chanting something. It was evident that he was doing this performance especially for me, and I was later explained that it was his way of proposing marriage.
Were you to be his fourth wife?
I’m afraid I’d be his thirty eighth wife.
The Miss Tourism World beauty contest was held in Sri Lanka, an exotic place too. Did you have time to go sightseeing?
Yes, I did, but my impressions of the island are of two kinds — on the one hand, fairy-tale fancy hotels, gorgeous architectural and historical landmarks, and on the other — terrible poverty. I found the Sri Lankans to be hospitable, generous and warm-hearted people who seem never to stop smiling. We, participants of the contest, travelled to various places in the island and wherever we stopped for some time, little shows were immediately organized to entertain us — beautifully bedecked elephants were paraded before us, national dances were danced, flowers in amazing quantities were everywhere. We were received like royalties. In several places, mini-contests were held and the winners were awarded crowns which were no worse than those you get at the most prestigious international contests. Even in much richer countries, such a lavish reception of the beauty contest participants would have been extremely unusual. Sri Lankans were full of gratitude for the opportunity to watch beauty contest shows.
But what did this particular contest have to do with tourism? Did you have to wear sport suits and backpacks for the jury to determine the most elegant backpack wearer?
No (laughs)! The basic idea was to attract tourist world attention to the country where the contest was held, to show the tourist potential of Sri Lanka. The organizers made sure the mass media all around the world gave a good coverage of the event. After so many years of civil strife, Sri Lanka wanted to demonstrate that it’s a beautiful and safe place to visit.
Besides, every participant of the contest promotes her own country in various ways. Tourist booklets, magazines, advert materials and souvenirs are handed out to the guests and audiences. Incidentally, I had with me a certain number of copies of the Welcome to Ukraine magazine and it was of a great help for me. The contest included the show of national dresses, not so much traditional but rather stylized, modern. It is always very difficult to compete in this show with Latin American girls — their dresses are so fancy, with a lot of feathers and plumages. But this time I think I put up a good competition — I had a wedding dress on from the Kyiv Fashion Salon Ivanna. The dress combined the traditional Ukrainian colours — yellow and blue, with the stylized Ukrainian state symbol of the trident embroidered on the front.
How does this contest compare to others in status?
Its very high level was attested to by the participation of almost sixty “Misses” of different countries, five of whom were among the top best at the Miss World — 2001, and three of whom were in the final of the Miss Universe contest in 2002. All in all, seventy four girls took part in the contest. The well-known actress Natalia Oreiro and the pop singer Christina Aguilera were among those who sat on the jury. The final show followed the typical pattern of Miss World contests.
How many contests did you take part in?
Very many, among them — thirteen contests and 16 titles won. At the Miss Tourism World contest in addition to the top prize I won the audience sympathy prize. Also, I won the title of Miss Negombo at the contest held there and the title of Miss Hotel at the resort of Kandy. I was awarded the crowns studded with Sri Lankan precious stones.
Is participation in these beauty contests a lucrative thing?
Most of the beauty contests do have considerable prize funds, but the winner never gets the prize in full — out of the prize money you have to pay for expenses, a certain percentage goes to the agents, and for charity, and other things like this. In other words, I can’t get rich by participating and winning. Besides, getting rich is not one of my goals in life.
So, what does participation give you?
New experiences, travel, chances of letting so many people learn about me, potential contracts, friends and business contacts.
Who was on the jury — in addition to those two women you’ve already mentioned?
Mostly local men.
And they evidently like white tall blonds with full lips…
Looks like it. Sri Lankan men are mostly of a short stature, and women seem to be taller. The local men do like tall and long-legged women.
Being beautiful, as you said, is not easy. How much of your beauty is a gift of nature and how much art, exercise and the rest of it?
I’d say sixty percent of it is what God and my parents have given me, twenty percent — keeping what has been given in a top condition. It includes the conditions I grew up in, and upbringing. And the rest — taste, style, watching and keeping abreast with the trends. Cosmetics, hairstyling and plastic surgeries are separate items. Incidentally, I did have a minor plastic surgery — my upper lip which had been damaged in my childhood, had to be mended. Those women who go through all this in order to look beautiful should be respected and honoured with monuments.
When you won the top prize at the American Beauty contest, did you have any offers from US magazines?
Yes. One of the magazines was Playboy. And I declined to be photographed for that magazine.
They pay well but they wanted to photograph me absolutely naked. And I don’t want that. I’ll never agree to pose naked for photographs. I can picture my father opening a copy of that magazine and looking at my photographs… Wearing nice lingerie — it’s another matter. Besides, it’d look much more erotic.
What about beauty contests in Ukraine — are they still held?
Yes, they are, but the Miss Ukraine beauty contests seem to have run into problems. Regional beauty contests are better and more professionally organized, they are more colourful. The Miss Tourism International Black Sea beauty contests are held at a high professional level as well.
Do you have any advice to give to the girls who are planning to take part in international beauty contests?
They have to be prepared to deal with a great many things, starting from organizational and logistic problems down to financing. They have even to check very carefully whether they are really being taken — to a beauty contest or to a harem.
So, in a way, participation in beauty contests is a sort of a collective effort?
Correct. I’ve been working with the Savrox Models Agency since I was fifteen. The agency and its head, Tetyana Savchenko, always help with a lot of things, legal protection included. They also provide cosmetologists, massagers, trainers and hair stylists. I also get considerable support from the president of the Odesa Law Academy Academician Serhiy Kivalov. And the mayor of Odesa Ruslan Bodelan contributes his help. My parents and sister are part of my “team” as well.
Are you planning to take part in any other contests?
I think I’ll try my luck at the Miss World and Miss Europe contest. I’ve never taken part in a Miss Europe contest but a Miss World contest is of more interest to me — my previous experience was very exciting and I want to try it again.
Models and athletes do not have too much time to develop their careers. Any long-range plans?
I want to finish my studies at the Academy — I’m a fourth-year student now. Then I’d like to apply my legal knowledge to my experience gained in the world show industry.[Prev][Contents][Next]