Lord Byron's words, not mine. But they certainly apply to Jimena Navarrete, Miss Universe 2010.
I started writing this post on Monday night -- when she was crowned. After all, she meets the main criterion for inclusion in this blog. Prior to winning, she was Miss Mexico. Technically, I think she still is.
Beauty contested are a tricky topic. They have accumulated enough social barnacles to impede reasonable conversations.
Objectification. Being rewarded for looks rather than talents. Sexual pandering.
And I will grant that some of the objections are close to the mark. The fact that the contest was in Las Vegas does not lessen the howls of people who dislike seeing women as sex fantasies.
Of course, those arguments ignore the fact that the world is filled with beauty -- and some of that beauty is personified in women.
For some reason, a lot of those beautiful women are concentrated in Mexico. And they are everywhere in Mexico. There are cosmopolitan beauties in Guadalajara (Jimena Navarrete's home town). And rural beauties in my small fishing village by the sea.
A major social event in my village is the annual Miss San Patricio contest. Ours is a poor village. But the young contestants pull out the stops to make themselves paragons of beauty. There is no pretense that the contest is anything other than what it is -- a celebration of beautiful women.
Señorita Navarrete's first pronouncement as Miss Universe was heartening -- for those of us whose hearts lie south of the Rio Bravo. She plans to promote her home country of Mexico. And it could use the help. We expatriates in Mexico consistently bemoan the reputation Mexico has in The States and Canada -- mostly caused by media intent on magnifying the negative.
Even Mexico's president, Felipe Calderon, enlisted her in restoring Mexico's battered reputation: "Her triumph is a source of pride and satisfaction for all Mexicans, who see in her the fruits of perseverance." (One can only imagine what Bill Clinton would have said under similar circumstances.)
Beauty queens do not always fare well. Relationships with drug lords and youthful indiscretions on film have pulled other winners from their tiaras. I hope that will not happen here.
Mexico is a land of beauty. It deserves an advocate who is just as beautiful.