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Victoria Polyulyakh from Odesa was among top five finalists at Missis Globe Contest
Victoria Polyulyakh, 37, a Ukrainian from Odesa, was among the Top Five Finalists of the Missis Globe, the married women beauty contest, which was recently held in Los Angeles, USA.
Missis Globe contests, which are held in L.A. under the auspices of the Women In Ned, Inc. (WIN), and the Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger , are among the most prestigious of their kind in the world. 36 contestants — all of them married and not younger than 22 — from many countries of the world competed for the titles. In addition to winning the title of the First Vice Missis Globe, Mrs Polyulyakh took part in The Best Photomodel Contest and earned a prize within the US Dentists’ Smile Program; also, she was chosen to be “the face” of the US cosmetics brand SHOK.
Mrs Polyulyakh, who used to be a professional free-style gymnast, works at a fitness centre. She has two children. In Ukraine she won the titles of Pani Odesa (Missis Odesa) and Vice Pani Ukrayina (Vice Missis Ukraine).
Yevhen BUDKO, Mizhnarodny Turyzm senior editor, had the privilege to interview this remarkable woman of great beauty and of overwhelming life energy.
Mrs Polyulyakh, as far as I know you never took part in beauty contests for the titles of Miss this or that. You could have easily won any of them. May I ask why you stayed away from Miss Beauty contests?
Firstly, I did not feel like doing it, and secondly I got married when I was still quite young and had children. It was only when my children grew up somewhat that I felt I could do something else in life besides being just a housewife. And I also felt I wanted to expand my education.
What kind of education did you have?
I was educated at the Department of Finances and Economics of Moscow University. And now I am completing my studies at the Fitness Academy — incidentally, the only one of its kind in all of the countries of the former Soviet Union.
How much time did you spend “being just a housewife” as you put it?
That’s a lot of time for such an energetic person like you!
Oh, I was just fine. Being a housewife, especially when you have two children to take care of, does take a lot of effort, creative effort I would say. I devoted much time to educating my children, not just feeding them. It all depends on how you look at what you do in life.
What was the reaction of your children when they learnt that you had won the title of the First Vice Missis Globe?
My son, Danylko, seems to be annoyed by all the media fuss around it. He does not like talking to journalists either. Neither does he like being photographed “in the family circle.” By contrast, my daughter Sofiyka, who is only six years old, is very excited about my getting that title, she dances and sings to express her joy. She was sure I would win a title at that contest anyway.
And what about your husband?
Oh, he was very happy for me. He works in a big business. We have been together for almost twenty years now. In fact, when we were teenagers, we attended one and the same school… I know that it often happens that when women begin to achieve something in their life on their own, their husbands do not give them enough support. My husband is different — he has been very supportive. And his support did mean a lot to me…
Ukrainian women deserve love and respect not only because they are so good looking — their inner life is very rich too. They are cultured, industrious, practical, and gentle. In contrast to so many women in the west, they remain to be the protectresses of the family and of the family values. All these qualities of Ukrainian women should be appreciated.
What kind of a reception did you get in America?
Oh, it was great! I was surprised to find out that the people I talked to knew something about Ukraine, and were perfectly aware that Ukraine was not part of Russia. I was told many times that Ukrainian women were the most beautiful in the world — and I did not even try to deny it! (Mrs Polyulyakh laughs).
What about beautiful women in America?
Frankly, I did not see many of them. Their scarcity makes them very special — they are treated like they are special national achievements — they are a national pride that deserves love and protection. A beautiful girl has excellent chances of becoming a model or movie actress.
How was the contest organized?
Perfectly — highly efficient, with everything thought of well in advance, and everything running smoothly. There was no room for backstage intrigues or anything of that kind. I understand that “Missis” beauty contest differs a lot from “Miss” beauty contests — the participants are more mature. The atmosphere was a very friendly one. Socializing was ahead of contesting. I keep writing to some of the women I met there, I talk to them on the Internet. We have formed a sort of a women’s club. I did not intend to win a title at any price; I wanted to show what I was worth, and to represent my country well.
How did you get into these contests in the first place?
It was rather by accident than intention. When the director of the fitness centre I worked for turned to me with a request to take part in the Pani Odesa beauty contest — he said it would be a great publicity stunt for the centre — I had my doubts at first. I had taken part in fitness conferences, fitness competitions, I had given fitness master classes but to take part in a beauty contest was something entirely different. I could not say “no” right away either and I did go to the Savrox Models Centre, which organized those Pani Odesa beauty contests, to check things out. It turned out that it was more of a festival of the female beauty rather than a beauty contest. The participants, in addition to being beautiful, had to demonstrate their creative abilities. I did not have much time to prepare for the contest — there was so much to do at home, plus my studies at the Academy took a lot of time, but I seemed to have done well what was required of me at the contest. Incidentally, I had not practiced the dance that I danced at the contest, and yet it turned out to be good enough to earn me the title of Pani Odesa. When I was invited to take part in the Missis Ukraine Beauty Contest, I had even greater doubts whether I should participate, but eventually I did take part in it and was awarded the title of the Vice Missis Ukraine.
Did you have similar doubts before the contest in Los Angeles?
I did but now I am happy that I did go ahead and took part in that contest. It was a great experience — and an excellent incentive to keep myself in shape.
Did you find it was a tough contest?
Nothing comes easy in this life. To win a title at a beauty contest at the age of thirty seven is very much different from winning it at, say, eighteen, but I’ve got something of an adventurer in myself. I have a positive attitude to life, a desire to achieve. Besides, I used to be a practicing athlete — I was doing free-style gymnastics for twelve years, you know.
Were not the other contestants well-prepared too? They must have been eager to win…
They were. And there were tears, and bad disappointments too at failing to be chosen for the top five, and then over failing to win the top title. The first five places were awarded to the contestants from Greece, Ukraine, Lithuania, Singapore and the USA.
The winner, a woman from Greece, was forty two and had four children. That was something! Many of the participants came to Los Angeles with their children and there was one woman with an infant in arms. The woman who had previously won the title of Missis Utah had six children — and at the contest in Los Angeles she was awarded the title of Missis Body! Isn’t it fantastic?
Do you know whether any of the contestants had some face lifts, plastic surgeries or other similar operations performed some time prior to the contest?
I would not know for sure but I know for a fact that even those girls who take part in “Miss” beauty contests do have such surgeries. In America plastic surgery or anything along these lines is not considered to be anything special, and women do not mind at all admitting that they have had such operations. In Ukraine, such surgeries are still sort of frowned upon by the public. Besides, it’s very expensive. Anyway, “natural” beauty is appreciated all the more.
Did you get to see Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Unfortunately, I did not. I respect him very much for all of his achievements and I wanted to get an autograph from him. He was supposed to be on the jury but his gubernatorial duties prevented him from coming to judge the contest.
Was there anyone else present at the contest, who would deserve a special mention?
Yes, there was. It was Tracy Campbell, head of the Women In Ned, Inc. As a matter of fact, I am toying with the idea of creating a branch of this organization in Ukraine. I talked to her about it and she greatly supported this idea. There is a lot to be done before this idea can be realized — all sorts of legal and organizational matters are to be taken care of, but I am working on it, and I hope that some results will be achieved in several months.
But does it have to be a branch of anything? Why can’t it be a fully independent Ukrainian organization?
Yes, probably from the legal point of view it would have been simplier but I don’t think it would be more effective. Since it’s something entirely new for Ukraine, we should first use the experience of international organizations and their capabilities. In 2008, a comprehensive program of protection of women against domestic violence will be launched in the EU countries under the UN aegis and it would be very good if Ukraine could become part of that program. Ukraine is not an EU member but it should not prevent us from participating in some of the EU programs.
I know it will be difficult for several reasons. We’ve got a mentality for which it may be hard to accept such ideas. Besides, there are practically no women in high places in Ukraine. In this country, the problem of domestic violence against children and women has been largely ignored by the society, and women themselves have been reluctant to talk about it in public. According to the available statistics, out of a hundred women who are subjected to domestic violence only two go to the police with their complaints, and the police in its turn is not prepared to treat such complaints the way they deserve to be treated.
In the west the problem of violence against women and children does exist too — take Spain, for example, where it is a result of men’s hot tempers and short fuses, but in general, men treat women in the west with more respect than they do in Ukraine. Women in western society are treated as personalities and as members of society with the full rights. By contrast, in Ukraine men tend to look at women as at objects of desire rather than persons worthy of respect.
Ukraine is known as a country of beautiful women, and Odesa seems to stand out as a place with particularly beautiful women. Is it a wrong impression created by beauty contests?
I think that the number of beauty contests held in Odesa does reflect the fact that women in Odesa are particularly beautiful. The Savrox Models Centre that I mentioned earlier has been functioning in Ukraine for fifteen years now, and I believe it’s longer than any other similar agency. The head of this centre, Tetyana Savchenko, was the first to set up a school for models too.
I do think the beauty of women in Odesa does stand out among the other beautiful women of Ukraine. Probably, it is the very atmosphere of the city, the sea, that contribute to the beauty of Odesa women. They are bright, showy, of cheerful disposition, and with a good sense of humour. I find Odesa to be the best city in the world, and I can talk about it endlessly.
Are there any places in Odesa that you like particularly much?
Yes, there are — French Boulevard, Duke Park, Seaside Promenade, Derybasivska Street, the Sea Port to name but a few. Also, I like to go to Arkadia Park — they have a night club there where I can dance all night long.
I think it’d be best to visit Odesa in late spring when everything is in blossom. Odesa is a world in itself but a world which keeps close contacts with the rest of the world too. Do come and experience it!
Photos by Dolores GOUCEIRO
The blond Ukrainian contestant
Photo by A. Morderer
For Mrs Polyulyakh being an instructor
Swimming for relaxation
Mrs Polyulyakh with the Opera House
Mrs Polyulyakh and her daughter