Pia Wurtzbach, Bea Santiago, Ariella Arida–how they transformed themselves into beauty queens
It’s not easy being—becoming—a beauty queen. There’s a lot of preparation involved, physically as well as mentally. Three stunners tell us how they became the drop-dead gorgeous women that they are today.
Pia Wurtzbach was being encouraged to join beauty pageants even when she was a kid.
“I liked the idea, because when I was younger my mom and I would really take time to watch Miss Universe on TV,” said the 24-year-old Binibining Pilipinas 2013 first runner-up from Cagayan de Oro.
But, “I had an awkward stage, with braces, curly hair and a really bad fashion sense,” she recalled. She entered the fray only after being sought out by Jonas Gaffud, talent scout of Mercator Modeling Agency.
The training was six months long, which included going to the gym at least three times a week, walking in heels every day to practice her strides and strengthen her legs, working on her makeup, and having practice Q&As.
“I learned so much more about myself than I ever did before,” said Wurtzbach. “It was actually the most difficult part, other than the pageant itself.”
“I purposely practiced walking in 7-inch heels,” she added, so wearing heels an inch less on pageant day would be a breeze. “I would also do the ‘duck walk’ exercise every day, in heels!”
The “duck walk” is done by squatting and walking slowly relying on your hips, quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteal muscles for support. It’s said to help lengthen one’s stride and strengthen the legs and core.
“You really have to live and breathe the experience if you are preparing to be a beauty queen,” said Wurtzbach. “Know your assets, be aware of your flaws, then work from there.”
When it comes to dressing up, “Remember you’re a queen! You should look respectable.”
Her beauty tips:
1. Take regular trips to the dentist. Pia has her teeth whitened at least four times a year. “This sounds weird, but I try to drink tea and coffee through a straw. My dentist said this will avoid stains on your teeth. And less stains, less painful whitening sessions.”
2. With makeup, practice makes perfect. “Observe how certain brands or products work on your skin. I highlight my eyes because I’m tisay, I never wear nude lipstick; it makes me look pale, so I use red, pink or plum.”
3. Eye masks and creams work wonders to reduce eye puffiness. “I use moisturizers and eye creams because all that makeup can cause infections. I put eye masks in the fridge and wear them for 15 minutes after I wake up.”
4. Know yourself well. “Be aware of the things you can and cannot do. Then you would know how to work your way around things and be successful in whatever you try to pursue in life. You’ll radiate confidence, and that’s where you’re most beautiful.”
It was Bea Rose Santiago’s mom who convinced her to join beauty pageants.
“I was 22 years old then, and wanted more in life,” said the Miss International 2013.
In grade school, Santiago was made fun of because of her height and curly hair.
“They called me tingting or bamboo,” she recalled. “I wanted to be short like everybody else!”
It was only at the age of 17, when she started to do modeling, that she embraced her statuesque beauty. And it was only in August 2012 that she left her life in Canada to come to the
Philippines to realize her dream to become a beauty queen. At one point, she almost gave up.
“People think pageants are for skinny girls with makeup and heels,” she said. “But no! We work very hard.”
Exercise is very important in preparing for a professional beauty pageant. Santiago went to the gym four times a week, cut down on salt and sauces, and supplemented her diet with veggies, brown rice, boiled bananas and camote. She trained hard “to walk, talk and act like a lady.” She learned how to properly style herself and do her own makeup.
She also needed to be updated on news and current events. She studied a lot of beauty pageant Q&A segments on video and stayed away from events that would compromise her image.
Now she’s enjoying the fruits of her labor. “The best thing is being able to meet so many Filipinos who are just as proud of my achievement,” she said. “I have never been so overwhelmed with all the support and love.”
With her title, she got to help her hometown in Masbate build its very own public library. A street has also been named after her.
Her beauty tips:
1. Find the best makeup for your face. “Find your asset and enhance it! A beautiful smile wins the crown. I don’t do the smoky ‘pageant makeup.’ I look best when I don’t put too much makeup. Although false eyelashes are a must to make my eyes look bigger, and so is lip gloss to make my lips look fuller.”
2. Know how to contour. “My way of doing makeup is probably the easiest. I contour only my forehead. I highlight a portion of my forehead, around my nose and my lower lip. Since I have high cheekbones, I don’t contour them; instead, I highlight them so they won’t appear deep, and I can achieve a fuller face in pictures.”
3. Always dress smart. “As a beauty queen I have to look tall and long, so I wear heels, I wear beige shoes. I’m a huge fan of long, tight black dresses; it makes me feel sophisticated. When I don’t feel comfortable with what I wear, I put on a scarf or a blazer. I always put my hair up in a bun—my signature look.”
Miss Universe Philippines 2013 Ariella Arida—who placed third runner-up in Miss Universe 2013, quite an achievement for a 25-year-old—lives by the motto, “Beauty is not about what you see, but it’s what you feel.”
The crown has enabled her to represent the country with pride in various functions and charity work.
“I never thought it would happen to me, so that is one of the best things about joining this pageant,” she said. “More importantly, it taught me to embrace myself more, accept my weaknesses and develop my strengths.”
This Laguna stunner went through a lot in terms of personal development; the training for the Miss Universe pageant was “rigorous and intense,” she recalled, and “confidence was one of the many things I had to learn.”
The most bizarre beauty exercise routine she went through was the “mirror exercise,” which she did every day to correct her uneven smile.
She realized that knowing herself was her secret weapon. “Everything has to start from yourself. Be confident, feel beautiful and everything else will follow.”
Her beauty tips:
1. Stay fit all the time. Since we always wear body-hugging dresses, we have to be fit to appear sexy and flawless. But you should always know the type of dress that suits your body, and the right color as well.”
2. Invest on a black dress and heels. “My ‘go-to look’ for any function or event is always a sexy black dress. On a casual day, pants and a nice top would do, plus sexy heels. What’s important for me are the heels—they complete my look.”
3. Love yourself. “Know your flaws and deal with them! Be confident, beautiful and humble.”