BANGKOK — What’s the worst thing a beauty queen can do for her popularity? Body shame a more popular beauty queen, of course.
Netizens both Thai and foreign are fuming at Miss Grand Thailand 2019 Arayha “Coco” Suparurk’s victory on Saturday night at BITEC convention center in Bang Na, due to a meme posted by Coco calling Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray “fat.”
“I just won the crown. Can’t you celebrate with me and be happy for me? I got the crown. Isn’t anyone happy for me at all?” Coco said to reporters who pressed her on the drama moments after she won. “If you had followed my journey since the beginning, you would see that the drama is another matter. My skills can’t be overlooked.”
Coco, representing Nakhon Phanom province, beat out 76 other contestants, each representing other Thai provinces. As soon as Coco was crowned over crowd favorite Miss Grand Nan Peerachada Khunnarak, the live feed on Facebook was overwhelmed with angry reactions and comments.
The source of wrath was a now-deleted meme showing Miss Grand 2018 Clara Sosa as “fit” compared to the “fat” Miss Universe 2018, Catriona Gray of the Philippines, which Coco shared in early July from the @MissGrandFamily Instagram.
Earlier in July, Coco defended herself from the accusations of body-shaming that had begun pouring in.
“I shared the photo of Clara because I’m jealous of her body and want it. I shared the truth and everyone hates me for it. Even when I upload a pretty picture of myself, there’s a thousand angry comments,” Coco said in a July 8 interview. “I shared the truth. I know she’s Miss Universe, but the picture just says it all.”
In a Twitter Q&A on Sunday, Gray condemned body shaming in what netizens saw as a shut down of Coco’s shade.
“Obviously I stand firmly against any form of bullying and bashing – online and off. It is never, ever okay to put someone down for the sake of ‘expressing your opinion,’” Gray wrote. “Bodyshaming is hurtful and should never be tolerated. If anyone reading this too has been bodyshamed, I know how it feels.”
But Nawat Itsaragrisil, the outspoken president of the Miss Grand organization, said that Coco’s crown was justified.
“Nan is talented, but she can’t compete with Latinas on the international stage in terms of height, curviness, and performance. That’s why Coco won,” Nawat said.
During the pageant on Saturday, the final question referred to recent debates on the attire of female MPs: “As a woman in Thailand 4.0, do you think colorful dress in Parliament should be allowed, or should there be regulations?”
“Dressing up colorfully in Parliament is irrelevant to the meetings themselves. You just have to be appropriate. Dressing up colorfully makes others happy too,” Coco replied.
As Miss Grand Thailand 2019, Coco won 1 million baht, a crown, a car, an apartment condo, and a scholarship to Bangkok Thonburi University. Coco also won the Press Photographer’s Favorite award, as well as the Best Armpit award. In October, she will go on to compete in Miss Grand International 2019 in Caracas, Venezuela.