IT was a night of glitz and glamour as a large crowd gathered in the ballroom of Kinta Riverfront Hotel and Suites to celebrate the beauty and talents of married women.
Believing that pregnancy and a married life should not stop women from shying away from dressing up and pursuing their interests, 21 women in their 30s to 60s proved they still have it in them to sashay on stage in sky-high heels and look their best in dreamy gowns.
But, there could only be one Mrs Gorgeous 2017, and the coverted title for the inaugural event went to Ong Siew Ling, a 37-year-old singer from Penang.
It was easy to see how this mother of one, who was among some of the youngest participants in the pageant, captured the hearts of the judges and the audience with her confidence and poised elegance during the cheongsam and evening wear rounds.
Her popularity was apparent during the talent-show round when she appeared on stage showcasing dance moves mimicking robotic movements, before rounding out her performance with saucy dance moves.
But it was not until she took off her smart-looking coat and collared shirt outfit to reveal a sexy inner outfit resembling a Latin dance dress and performed belly dance moves that truly got the crowd roaring.
Ong completed her performance by showing off her ability to sing Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ 1980s hit I Hate Myself For Loving You, and received the wildest round of applause for the night.
She received a stem cell treatment package worth RM20,000, a cash prize of RM3,000, a crown, sash and trophy for her achievement.
Speaking to reporters after her victory was announced at the end of the pageant last Sunday, Ong said she decided to take part in the pageant for married women because she feels strongly about women embracing themselves for who they are, and a life after marriage should not change that.
“I was very happy on stage, especially during my performance, because I received such a tremendous response from the audience. It was very encouraging.
“Although I was quite nervous, to the point where I felt my hands were getting cold, I still tried my best to give my all to win the judges over,” she said, adding that she practised and arrange her choreography on her own with the help of YouTube, while she learned her belly dance moves with an instructor.
Ong said this is not her first time participating in a pageant, as she had taken part in several pageants and won before.
She also recently won the Mrs Malaysia Kebaya 2016 title, which was her first win after taking a break from pageants for almost 10 years.
“I started taking part in pageants at the age of 21 thanks to a friend’s recommendation and support.
“Back then, I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet so I thought it was a good experience for me to try something new.
“I realised that I was very comfortable on stage, which was why I decided to take part in more pageants after that,” she said, adding that she decided to go on a hiatus at around age 27 to take a break.
Ong, who got married in 2015, said she felt ready to make a comeback in pageants after she managed to lose the weight she gained during her pregnancy in the same year of her marriage.
“I gained 20kg when I was pregnant. After giving birth, my friend recommended I try a particular product to lose weight and it was very effective.
“Coupled with my frequent exercise routine, I was able to lose weight really quickly and now I am even slimmer than it was like before being married,” she said.
Asked for her advice to aspiring married women who want to succeed in pageants, Ong said confidence is the key.
“Always challenge yourself to exceed your limits and be more confident in yourself.
“This is because when you step into the limelight, the audience will be able to see through you if you aren’t confident, so don’t give up and don’t stop trying to showcase the best version of yourself to the audience,” she said.
Ong also won two subsidiary titles, Best Elegant Wear and Mrs Best Talent, taking home RM500 cash, a crown, trophy and sash for each title.
The first runner-up title went to architectural scale modelist Mavis Wong, 40, from Ipoh, who sang a Cantonese hit song Zhen De Ai Ni (Really Love You) by Beyond during her talent show.
She also won a subsidiary title Mrs Elegance.
Businesswoman Tiong Mee Keng, 69, who was the oldest participant, won second runner-up after she delighted the audience in a shocking blue wig, spiked bra and bright fuchsia leggings, while dancing to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance.
Other subsidiary title winners were entrepreneur Zenna Vong, 56, who won Mrs Best Catwalk; homemaker Sheila Hara, 56, who won Mrs Sweet Smile; businesswoman Eo Ah Keau, 61, who won Mrs Most Popular and Mrs Most Energetic; and self-employed Susan Mu, 55, who won Mrs Photogenic.
Mrs Gorgeous 2017 was organised by event management and marketing company EWO, under the direction of Dr Lim Wooi Khai, who is also medical director of Klinik de Era, and Charlene Mok, a former beauty queen who won Mrs Malaysia World 2012 and Mrs Malaysia Queen of the World 2011.
The pageant was organised to highlight, recognise and promote the significant achievements and roles women play in society.
The pageant assessed the participants based on their contributions to society, their values, intelligence, personality, talent, as well as their outer and inner beauty.
A significant portion of the profits earned from the pageant was donated to various charitable organisations, including DJY Charity Team, Lions Club of Ipoh Centennial, and PMA Chan Meng Khor Dialysis Centre.
Deputy Works Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin was present as the guest of honour.