Duc Hanh meets Doan Thi Kim Hong, the first ever Vietnamese representative at the Mrs World pageant, who is now helping to bring the contest to Vietnam
Young, long legged single girls can’t hog the limelight all for themselves. Mrs. Vietnam, a beauty pageant for more mature women, which will be held in Vung Tau this September, aims to find the most talented and beautiful career woman in all of Vietnam. The lucky winner won’t be going far as she will be representing her country at the Mrs. World pageant, also to be held in Vung Tau, in November.
Doan Thi Kim Hong was the first woman to ever represent Vietnam at a Mrs. World pageant in India back in 2005. Kim Hong, the Chairwoman of the Ho Chi Minh City-based CIAT’s (Advertising & Trade Fair Joint Stock Company) Management Board, didn’t win the overall prize but she was declared Mrs.
Congeniality and also showed her strength and athleticism by winning the mountain climbing event. Each year the Mrs. World contest aims to find and honour “the model of a modern woman”. It’s easy to see how Kim Hong dazzled the judges as a beautiful mother with a highly successful career. Although, success in business means she barely gets a minute for our quick interview. Her mobile phone rings continuously, while assistants come and go with queries and messages as we chat.
Despite the interruptions, she remains composed, smiling radiantly throughout, as if the stress and strain of work is like water off a duck’s back. She appears younger than her age (she’s 40 years old) and at times it’s hard to imagine the woman in front of me is a single mother of a 12-year-old boy. “It was very hard to be the first Vietnamese woman to enter the Mrs. World Pageant,” she says.
“With the exception of my eldest brother, everyone I knew opposed my decision openly! They could not understand how a mother with a son could attend a beauty contest. “I overcame every comment, every sneer to enter the competition. Because I knew that the contest honours the model of a modern woman, who is accomplished in her career, and family.” The Mrs.
World beauty contest was inspired by a beauty contest for married women held in the US back in 1938. Over the years the contest had its ups and downs and was halted for several years before it was re-started in 1977. Married women, widows and even elderly women were allowed to enter the contest. “It’s very lucky that I won small prizes in the international contest as it filled me with self-confidence, determination and ambition to bring the Mrs.
World Pageant to Vietnam. Vietnamese women are very beautiful, charming and capable – why not have a contest like this for them?” says Hong. Three years after her own contest, Hong convinced Nguyen Dieu Hoa, a former Miss Vietnam in 1990, and now the director of Phoenix Commodities as well as a mother of three, to enter the Mrs. World Pageant 2008 in Russia.
“I was very happy to help Dieu Hoa get in the Top 5 at the contest,” says Kim Hong. “The success of Dieu Hoa also helped me a lot when trying to convince the Organisation Board of the Mrs. World Contest, Ba Ria-Vung Tau provincial authorities and Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to approve my company’s plan to host both Mrs. Vietnam 2009 and Mrs. World 2009 in Vung Tau.”
As a kid Kim Hong dreamt of becoming a doctor or a policewoman, but in the end she studied music and she started out as a music teacher in a secondary school, before becoming marketing manager for the Vietnam National Trade Fair & Advertising Company (Vinexad), then director of VCCI’s advertising company.
Thanks to her success at Mrs. World 2005, Kim Hong has turned CIAT into one of the top companies for consultation and event management in Vietnam. “People often think that a businesswoman does not have enough time to do their housework. But they are wrong. I inherited my kind-hearted, unselfish, devoted and patient character from my mother,” says Kim Hong, who is now also the head of the Mrs. World-Vietnam Organising Committee.
“She helps me a lot to overcome the despair of my marriage. I feel happy to live with my mother and my little son. I am happy to cook meals for my son and to take care of my mother after work. “Do I lack a man in my life? Oh no, I have a little 12-year-old man at home and I feel very happy and optimistic though my family situation may not be as perfect as other women’s.”
Kim Hong’s company has experience in beauty pageants after working on successful events such as Miss Ethnic Vietnam 2007 and Miss Universe 2008 in Nha Trang. Details about Mrs World 2009 can be found on www.mrsworld.com. “I believe that the contest will be a successful one,” says Kim Hong.
“I hope that through this contest I can promote my country’s wonderful scenery and friendliness of the Vietnamese people while honouring the beauty of Vietnamese women as well.” No doubt in regard to that last wish, she is leading by example.(english.vietnamnet.vn)