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Ask Esquire: What Just Happened to Catriona Gray, Miss Universe? Help Us Understand

In which we try to explain all the things that you don't get about what just happened right now (we won Miss Universe).
IMAGE Twitter/ @MissUniverse
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Here's a red-hot conundrum from social media:

"Hello Esquire! Please help me. Today, I awoke to a thunderous boom and then a series of high-pitched squeals accompanied a claw digging into my shoulder. (I am bleeding.) I thought there was some sort of emergency. An intruder? An earthquake? A roach?

But it was only my girlfriend jumping up and down in bed because, she tells me, 'We won!'

Ah, yes, today is that day, and Catriona Gray has, indeed, been crowned as Miss Universe 2018. She is now the undisputed most beautiful female in all the lands, from the urbanscape of Manila to the unlivable craters of Mercury, from sunny Thailand to death-cold Charon. (Sorry, women of Uranus!)

That explains the ringing in my ear, but I still have so many questions like why is the host wearing a bedazzled suit? Esquire, I ask: What is happening right now?"

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Why is Steve Harvey hosting again?

It is because mankind likes pain. 

Even after becoming an embarassing meme—by mistakenly crowning Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez instead of Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach in 2015—Harvey still hosted the pageant when it was held here in our backyard in 2016. 

The Thailand tilt marks his fourth straight year hosting Miss Universe. Maybe the organizers like his notoriety, antics (he doesn't know what pessimist means?), and fashion. That's the only way we can explain his bedazzled blue tux. Nice flex, Steve.  

Okay, what is this Lava Walk that has been all over my feed?

It is this: 

I don't think we need to explain this, because it is enough that she, walking like slow-hot lava, is mesmerizing to look at. Catriona is like a shampoo commercial made flesh, and we've worn out the replay button. 

You see, as a professional beautiful person in the pageant world, it is not enough that you put one foot in front of the other, you must have a non-human walk inspired by the pilapil, the tsunami, or the cobra

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This is amazing because sometimes we have trouble doing the regular kind of walking that is required for living. (We are inspired by the whisky and the vodka.)  

And tell me about the national costumes. Those were a trip. 

Yes, it was a trip. We were tripped out

We see the national costume competition as a respite from what everyone expects from a pageant. It is the only time when the contestants can nix the tasteful gown in favor of something like a wearable pineapple (Miss Bahamas), a Banh Mi buffet (Miss Vietnam), or six giant hands (well, eight if you count Miss Puerto Rico's own—to be clear, hers are not giant), and no one will blink. 

A highlight for us was Miss Japan who showed up in cosplay as Sailor Moon (because Hello Kitty would be too much). As for the Philippines: Catriona went full Beyoncé and came with her own halo.  

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Speaking of our new Miss Universe, what should I know about Catriona Gray? 

She is a singer, martial artist, advocate, and a Woman We Love.

As this year's Filipino contestant, a Binibing Pilipinas, the 24-year-old nabbed the crown with the help of her lava walk, an undeniable charisma that makes you want to stick your nose close to the monitor to see her face in full, the alignment of the stars, and, most important, intelligence. 

To the final question, “What is the most important lesson you've learned in your life and how would you apply it to your time as Miss Universe?” this was her response: 

“I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila, and the life there is poor and very sad. I’ve always taught to myself to look for the beauty of it and look in the beauty of the faces of the children and to be grateful,” she said. 

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Catriona continued: “And I will bring this aspect as a Miss Universe to see situations with a silver lining and to assess where I could give something, where I could provide something as a spokesperson. And this I think if I can teach people to be grateful, we can have an amazing world where negativity could not grow and foster, and children will have smile on their faces.” 

(Secret question: Is the new Miss Universe, single?)

Nope. This is why.

I hear Miss Spain was also a standout.

Yes. As the first transgender woman to compete in Miss Universe, 27-year-old Angela Ponce made history. Even if she did not make it to the final round, Miss Spain underlined (earlier in the show) that she doesn't “need to win Miss Universe. I only need to be here.”  

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What do you think the other candidates were listening to during the final three Q&A?

While we would never want to subject these lovely ladies to any of the loudest songs on this list, fair is fair.  

My ears are still ringing. What does this all mean—winning Miss Universe—and why is it a big thing here?

It is a matter of national pride that Catriona Gray is now Miss Universe. She is, in fact, the fourth Filipina to bring home the crown after Gloria Diaz, Margie Moran, and Pia Wurtzbach, making the Philippines the fourth country with the most wins

And in these times of storm and trouble, Filipinos are glad for the news. They are, in fact, yelping, squealing, jumping up and down, and tweeting memes. She's happy. We're happy. The whole country is happy. You should be happy, too. Never mind your ears.

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About The Author
Clifford Olanday
Senior Fashion Editor, Esquire Philippines
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