Dancing in the spotlight

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Beauty queen asks some ugly questions

Former Miss Vietnam Nguyen Thu Thuy

Nguyen Thu Thuy is neither demure nor shy.

The former Miss Vietnam (1994), who married, had a child, divorced and then had another child out of wedlock with her ex-husband, is not fazed by criticism either.

Given the celebrity-mania and sensationalism that grips the Vietnamese public and the media these days, Thuy gets her fair share of scrutiny and praise, censure and disapproval.

She had a few months ago sparked public interest in a writing career, with many saying her initial offerings, short stories via her Facebook page, showed considerable promise.

She had also shrugged off controversy generated by a photograph of her smoking in a bar, saying it was not a big deal and that her private spaces needed to be respected despite the fact that she is a celebrity.

But her recent comment about beauty being a talent by itself attracted even more controversy and condemnation than usual.

Was this yet another ruse to keep oneself in the spotlight? There are those who say yes, and others who waver, but the affair raises questions not just about the celebrities themselves, but the celebrity culture per se.

Thuy's statement about beauty generated less controversy than her combative and what some people have called highly indecorous replies to public criticism.

She was a jury member for the Miss Vietnam 2010 contest when Dat Viet cited her as saying:

"First, you must be a beautiful girl. I hope people consider the winner this year as a beautiful girl. Beauty is the combination of many factors, but it is such a talent. You can try to sing or learn well, but cannot do anything with beauty, not even cosmetic surgery. True beauty has its true value that is higher than virtue or intelligence."

This statement generated a great deal of opposition, especially on a forum for parents www.yeutretho.com. Commentators on this site called her shallow and accused her of deliberately stoking scandals to "reheat her fame."

Thuy's response was scathing and contemptuous.

"Is this about divergences in ideas or taking advantage (of her statement) to insult each other? I heard you are talking about my kids, too. You are mothers, don't let the children get involved in such petty issues. It is very sad that those who are my age still have to follow my tail at this time."

"I have heard that on the forum, people also gossip about my ass. Just tell me when you move your topic to another part of my body. Or should I have a boob job to put the crowd off the scent?"

Thuy also displayed her willingness to play pranks. She wrote on her Facebook page that she had been asked to get out of her rented house after the landlady read bad articles about her. This instantly became news on e-newspapers. She had the last laugh, writing on her site: "Miss Vietnam was not kicked out of house as people who envy her would have liked."

Ha Di, a market analyst, said Thuy's reactions would not help her elude the nosy public, but would in fact make life more complicated.

"It is not a good solution against the public. I feel that Thuy is like a hurt hedgehog, ready to ruffle up its prickles. It is only a selfish person that cares about her strengths rather than weaknesses. What would she say about her unhappy family? Isn't it a big failure for such a "˜successful and beautiful' woman like her?"

A blogger named Hwangbuin said her comment about talent and beauty was not the problem but her reaction afterwards was.

"Instead of sitting and reviewing her behavior, she told off the public and insinuated that they were ugly ignoramuses jealous of her gorgeousness. Sixteen years after holding the crown, Thuy does not know how to behave in front of the public. Doesn't the large volume of comments make her jump and look back at herself?"

Steadfast support

Amid all the disapproval, Thuy has also received sympathy and protective comments.

Do Duy wrote in the The Thao & Van Hoa (Sports and Culture) newspaper that Thuy was one of the rare intelligent beauty queens with real writing talent.

Thuy's Facebook page is the bridge that connects both her positive and negative writing with the public; and her comments show that Thuy is a rare celebrity who is not attached to the tiara and cosmetics and the crowd, but a real person who dares to live and speak out, Duy said.

"It is as though a beauty queen must be symbol of virtue, and pay constant attention to what she does or says." In many people's eyes, a beauty queen cannot follow her emotions, be humorous and crack casual and nonsensical jokes, Duy noted.

One of Thuy's short stories that have been well received is the "Story of an ant's nest" a metaphor for the human's basic instinct for survival and self-protection.

For now, the former beauty queen and businesswoman's basic instincts seem to be in fine fettle.

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