A final look at fairest of them all

Updated: 2012-08-16 11:06

By Xu Junqian in Shanghai (China Daily)

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A final look at fairest of them all

Yue-Sai Kan poses with Luo Zilin (right), Miss Universe China of 2011, and Tan Qiaoyin, regional winner in Hainan of Miss Universe China 2012. Zhu Ren / for China Daily

After more than 200 days, more than 20 cities and 5,000 applicants, China is about to choose who's the fairest in the land.

The Miss Universe China 2012 beauty pageant kicked off in December 2011 and is now entering its final stage, as the national director Yue-Sai Kan presents 22 beauties for the final on Sept 1, in Shanghai.

With an average height of 1.75 meters and age of 22, the women come from diverse backgrounds, including an opera singer, dance teacher and college students.

"The forthcoming month will be critical for what Kan calls the "creme de la creme", as they undergo a month-long intensive training course at the Kerry Hotel in Shanghai Pudong. Kan calls this a "phoenix-from-the-flames" process".

They will take a 12-course "Chinese lady" training class that includes table manners, English speaking, yoga, and performing arts, under the care of a galaxy of teachers from Japan, France and Italy.

Lizzette de Possi, a former model and fashion editor of magazines such as Harper's and Cosmopolitan is one of the coaches.

"Besides their Asian features, like black hair, these girls are no different from Westerners," says the Italian.

"Asian beauty has matured and Asian girls are very much in demand these days on the international stage. But the problem is that most of the girls are not professional models, and they don't know the lure of walking, especially when you put them in long dresses and on high heels," she says.

The top three winners from Miss Universe China 2011 will also "mentor" and "cheer up" their successors.

"We will mainly help them relax," says Li Zihan, runner-up in Miss Universe China 2011, a 21-year-old performing arts major from Shanghai.

"We've been through all the pressure and it's great that now we can pass along knowledge," says Li, who intends to become a posture teacher after graduation.

"The aim of this competition is not only to change the image of Chinese ladies," Kan comments on the slogan of the contest, "but also to educate and boost Chinese ladies with confidence and elegance, as there will be only one Miss China, but the course will be a life-long beneficial experience. And last but not least, it will benefit charity."

Miss China will be crowned with a 4 million yuan ($630,000) tiara and compete in the Miss Universe contest in December.