M: What makes a person successful? Whitney desperately wants to be a pageant queen. Her problem is she’s 5’3’’ and not pretty enough. Well, if she is desperate enough to be a pageant queen, what genes lack, science can now provide. I read an article about the beauty pageant factories of Venezuela, which to me, are so extreme already that it defies belief—where some contestants remove their lower intestines to process food faster to lose weight and others are told to get breast implants and nose jobs at a very young age. There is nothing wrong in improving the way you look but too much and too soon might not just change your outward appearance but how you perceive yourself inwardly. And for a young woman to chase standards that she most likely cannot meet might make her feel bad about herself. Outer beauty without inner beauty is a sham.

DJ: Out of curiosity, I checked with Wikipedia what a beauty pageant is. It is a competition that’s traditionally focused on judging and ranking the physical attributes of the contestants, while incorporating personality traits, talent and answer to judges’ questions. Now that’s not a surprise. It’s a beauty pageant! As the word “beauty” suggests, both inner and outer beauty matter. I also checked for height requirements and it appeared like there’s none except for what organizers require. But statistics do show that taller contestants do have an edge, particularly if the pageant is looking at modeling potential for its titleholder.

M: There are bombshell beauties who are so gorgeous that sometimes, you will question who to credit for their goddess-like features—Mother Nature or the plastic surgeon? For the girl aspiring to be a pageant queen, there are now so many pageants to choose from and it will be good to remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Also, aside from looks, what will set one apart is the way she answers the questions during the dreaded Q and A. Questions like “why did you join this beauty contest” cannot simply be answered with: “Why did I join this beauty contest? Why not? I thank you!” So even as Whitney works on improving herself physically, she can build up her confidence with preparing herself mentally and psychologically. She can read, read, read so she can build on her chances to become a pageant favorite.

DJ: I remember a story of a lady who spent long hours in front of a magic mirror admiring her beauty. She asked the mirror whether it’s vanity. The mirror replied that it isn’t. It’s imagination! But seriously, an honest-to-goodness self-assessment helps. We excel in any given field when we spend more time playing to our strengths instead of compensating for our weaknesses. Practice, practice, practice can only build, build, build so much to overcome what we’re weak at. But it can turn whatever we’re naturally good at into something better. Even best. We live in a very competitive world. Good is no longer enough. We ought to be great. I’ll have to ask Whitney—on a scale of one to 10 with 10 as the highest, is she at least an eight in all of the attributes set as the criteria for judging? In short, no pun intended, is she naturally gifted in these attributes? We all have weaknesses and strengths, and we have the edge when we focus more on where we’re strong at and work from there.