By Leland Kim
HONOLULU (KHNL) - It's the oldest pageant on the islands, dating back to 1948. On Friday, a new Miss Hawaii will be crowned.
Miss Hawaii is a scholarship pageant, meaning contestants compete for academic scholarships. As they gear up for their big night, they answer their critics, who say pageants like this objectify women.
"Relax the fingers," instructed Ray Abregano, a Miss Hawaii pageant consultant, to one of the contestants. "Don't grab onto the chiffon. Don't show any tension. That's it."
Some last minute coaching for this group of young women, competing to become the next Miss Hawaii.
They go through dress rehearsal, working out the kinks before Friday's big night. Of the 14 contestants, 10 are from O'ahu, two from Kaua'i, one from the Big Island, and Molokai's representative Tiana Conley.
"To come here and represent my island, and to share the aloha spirit that our island has so much of, it's just a wonderful feeling," said the 18-year-old graduate of Moloka'i High School.
Pageants are often a target of critics, who say, these competitions objectify women, and are out of touch with society. Miss Windward Marisa Kellett says, not so.
"Miss Hawaii is about scholarship," said the 24-year-old from Kaneohe. "She's about education. I've vied for that my whole life. I have a BS in Biology from UC Irvine. I'm aspiring to be a physician."
Fellow contestant Kawena Chun agrees.
"It's not only about beauty, It's about having intelligence, being able to eloquently speak and the bathing suit portion is just to prove physical fitness," said the 23-year-old who is representing East Oahu.
Abregano has been involved with pageants for 30 years. He said, despite changing standards in beauty, some things remain consistent.
"The values are still the same," he said. "As far as being warm, articulate, talented, and beautiful inside and out."
It's those values these contestants hope to convey, to become the next Miss Hawaii.
The new Miss Hawaii will be crowned Friday evening 8 pm at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It will be broadcast live on our sister station K-Five, the Home Team.