From convent to Miss World crown
Ivian Sarcos, the beauty queen from Venezuela who captured the Miss World crown in London Sunday night, walked a tough road on the way to becoming one of the most beautiful women in the world, including growing up an orphan and living in a nunnery for several years.
Only 8 years old when her parents died, Sarcos was sent to live with nuns after the tragedy.
"Unfortunately I lost both my parents at a very young age, which led me to study for five years in a nunnery. I spent my five years in there and my dream was to become a nun," the beauty queen said.
Her plans on becoming a nun eventually changed and she attended college, earning a degree in human resources and eventually, a job in a broadcasting company.
Although the road to the Miss World title was not easy, Sarcos believes it helped build her character.
"This has taught me that life, although it may be bad, doesn't have to end badly. Although I no longer have my parents it has taught me to be stronger," she told AFP after winning the title.
Although she is definitely not a nun, Sarcos said she wants to use her title as a platform to help others.
"Winning means everything to me and I hope to take advantage of being a winner in a productive manner," she said. "I first and foremost want to help people in need. I would like to help people like me. I am an orphan. I would also like to help the elderly and troubled teenagers. As many people as I can."
That caring attitude was demonstrated in her answer to judges about what being Miss World meant to her.
"I believe that the next Miss World should be a woman of responsibility and reason," she told judges. "I believe the woman should be committed to the organisation and help people in need. Beauty with a heart."
Despite the emphasis on caring for and helping others, some people still see the beauty pageant as nothing but a tool to degrade women.
The London Feminist Network protested the pageant yesterday, which they described as an "appalling offense against women's equality", according to a statement on their website.
However, Miss England director Angie Beasley told the Daily Telegraph that there is much more to the Miss World pageant than skimpy outfits.
"There is a talent, sports and Beauty With A Purpose round, which is the fundraising round, in the contest and the girls love taking part," she said. "Yes they have to look great to win but it's so much more than a beauty contest. These people should give it a chance instead of thinking it's just a bikini parade."
She added: "I'm all for women standing up for what they believe in which is why I run Miss England but I'm fed up of these protesters trying to bully us and push us around. We live in a free society where women have the right to choose. The contestants in Miss World are quite capable of making up their own minds if they want to enter or not and protesters shouldn't keep criticising the same decision. If you don't like it, don't watch it."