Miss Grand 2020: Not Your Average Pageant Queen

“It’s all grand everywhere from now on,” asserts the bold slogan of Miss Grand 2020, a new breed of beauty pageant that does away with the old-fashioned, swapping things like a tedious walk for a runway strut.  And, of course, there’s a highlight where each contestant uses her personality to introduce herself, proudly announcing the province she represents

“Miss Grand… Ranong!” Even if you’re not a fan of beauty pageants, you’re probably similar with this line and the stage on which she fabulously graced. Miss Grand Thailand 2020 is a national beauty pageant where the winner, selected from 77 contestants from all provinces, goes on to represent Thailand at Miss International 2020. This year, Ranong native Patcharaphon “Nam” Chanpradit took home the crown with her powerful answer to the final question, leaving the spectators in awe.

We sat down with Nam for a chat. “When I stood on that stage, I was given the opportunity to freely express my opinion as a citizen. It was my spot. And as you can see from the way we introduced ourselves, each girl from each province was fully in control of her creativity. You can see how unique it is from other pageants (laughs). I believe that my personality earned me the crown, and that’s where Miss Grand stands out the most.” She further revealed that Miss Grand was her very first beauty pageant and, as a girl from the south, she was overjoyed to have claimed the competition's top spot.

She recalled the year 2019 when she first got involved with the competition for the first time. It all began when this group of “pii liang” (a mentor) approached her while she was at her part-time job. She had no clue why they gave her the opportunity, but it was the right timing and they probably thought that she would be that fierce candidate they were looking for. In fact, she entered the competition in hopes of representing Surat Thani, not Ranong for which she’s known today. When that first year didn’t go as planned, her mentors decided to enter her again in the following year, this time she finally got to represent Ranong. Being on such a national stage was a big deal for her. It was all a new learning experience. “It was my first time being in a beauty parade and wearing a provincial costume, a dress gown, and bathing suits. I never got to be in any beauty pageant before, so I wanted to do my best when given the chance.”

It wasn’t just her beauty that played a part in her winning, but also her attitude. Nam proved that she’s truly worthy of the title by maximizing the given 30 seconds with her well thought out answer during the question round. “30 seconds wasn’t nearly enough to really delve into anything in detail. I had to sum everything up in the most succinct way.”

Cut to September 19, 2020. Up on the stage, Miss Grand contenders are rattling off their best self-introduction, hoping to snatch the coveted crown. Outside In the parallel world, people are taking to the streets, rightfully asking for democracy to be restored. Different scenes, same fighting spirit. Miss Grand is not just about a search for beauty and great attitude, but also a voice that would go on to represent the people as well as the country on the international level.

The question given to Nam was a challenging one: “The situation surrounding the protests seems to be escalating. If you have a chance to side with only one group of people, who would you choose between the protestors and the government? And what would you say to diffuse the situation?” Her answer?

“Honestly, I would choose the protestors because I believe each one of us has the right to our opinion. I want what’s best for our nation. I want to also tell the government that, if you’re really calling this country ‘Thailand,’ we need real democracy. And moreover, we need you to get out of the country!" 

In a way, the demand from a beauty pageant resonates with the roar from Sanam Luang. Beauty queen is no longer just a beauty queen, she voiced her opinion as a citizen through her answer. At that moment on that stage, the spotlight was on her and all eyes were on her. She had a platform and she chose to speak for the people. 

We talked to her a bit about politics. She told us that, “For me, politics belongs to all of us. If you pay tax or use public transport, everything in this country essentially concerns its citizens. When we can’t even say what we think, how can we even call it democratic? Even if I didn’t enter this pageant, I’m still a Thai citizen who has to pay tax.” She also told us that, “It all became even clearer when I won the pageant and the fact that the prize money is subject to tax deduction. I mean, if you take that money from me, it should be used for the greater good of the country and its people, right?”

We told her about the growing trend of people asking celebrities to step up and “call out” the government. “I actually feel for them [the people]. What I don’t get is how those [celebs] are still afraid of losing their privilege. In the end, something’s got to give. If a sacrifice has to be made for the betterment of the country, then maybe that’s the only way.” With her voice getting more firm, she added “Don’t forget that, there’s a whole generation of people after us and after them. I feel like we’re holding on to our privilege without thinking of the society’s greater good. Wouldn’t be best if we come out in arms to fight for our country together? People asked me, ‘Nam, why didn’t you stay in the middle?’ I told them that, well, if the problem is with the left hole, why would you try to solve it by covering the middle hole? Go to the root of the issue and fix it there.”