British born Chinese girl, Yinsey Wang, 23, is in the finals for this year’s Miss London Beauty Pageant, which is also the quarter final stage of the Miss England contest. What’s different about her is that she has brains as well as beauty. She is currently studying for a second degree in law at the University of Cambridge, having already graduated from the University of Toronto. If she wins, she will be the first of Oriental descent to do so.
By Ruth Tong: Beauty and Fashion Editor
(*Photo credit: Mila Victoria, Jo Briggs, Hannah Beth)
A Miss England hopeful, she is keen on challenging current perceptions on beauty, encouraging multicultural dialogue and upholding the significance of citizen participation. Born in London to Chinese parents (father from Taiwan and mother from Shanghai), she aims to give the opportunity for people to share their stories, to look past their political allegiances and come to understandings. Her ambitions are to increase awareness of key issues about cuture by using a platform that is accessible to the greater populace. Additionally, she hopes to benefit the three charities supported by the pageant organisers.
Yinsey Wang talks to Nee Hao
Tell us a bit about you?
I am a girl with big dreams and a love for learning. I love singing, chatting, and photography.
I’ve been with my best friend and future fiancée Han Li (though, no ring as of yet!) for 8 years now, and I knew him since I was a kid. He is my first and only boyfriend and has fuelled my curiosity for life, strengthened my faith in love, and my love for adventure. My family have taught me much about filial piety, solidarity and pride in one’s culture.
My friends such as Tryn Quan, Max Guo, Shary Zhang, Lydia Zhou, Ore Disu, Chang Im,Vanessa Clark, Wenyuan Chen, Aleks Driscoll, have really defined and shaped my view of the world with all the wisdom and kindness they have shown. They have taught me many things which has helped me become a better person. Ultimately, I am definitely not without my flaws, my insecurities and my trespasses. However, I am keen to better myself and learn how to become a responsible citizen and do what I can to increase participation of my peers.
Why did you decide to enter Miss London Beauty Pageant?
I’m here to challenge a restricted definition of beauty. My belief is that beauty comes in all shapes and all sizes; how dare we compare what is better! History has been unkind in its narrow interpretation of what beauty is. The Tudors preferred their waists small; China’s Tang Dynasty women preferred them plump. China’s Song dynasty preferred their women’s feet to be bound up and tiny; Heian Japan’s women preferred to dye their teeth black. All these differing standards show one KEY thing. Beauty, what we perceive it as, is CHANGING all the time; it is subjective and irrefutably a concept that never stays static. Instead of conforming, let’s realise that there is more than simply one definition of what beauty is. Therefore, I think it’s time to stand up and embrace ourselves as we are; as long as our choices are true to ourselves and healthy.
To me, I see my participation is to overturn the idea that pageants should disentitle women that possess characteristics outside the “perfected standard” to enter. I think we should celebrate our diversity, our uniqueness and our individuality! Someone posted an interesting comment on one of my campaigning websites saying how people lacking an appropriate height wouldn’t be able to enter and be successful in a pageant. What I’m trying to do is challenge that mentality, and turn beauty pageants up on their heads!
All the women in this pageant have shown compassion, intelligence, business acumen (amazing fundraising efforts!) and sincerity. If you vote for me or any of the other women, it would be an honour that you are taking the time to support people who are coming out of their shells to present their mandate.
How does it feel being a British-born Chinese?
There are lots of complications to my identity; I grew up with relatively little exchanges with those of Chinese background in primary school, I was the only Chinese girl in my class up until I started secondary school. Being shy during my secondary school years, I realised how many opportunities I’d missed out on to get involved!
I really enjoy reading about the richness of my Chinese heritage, and there are a lot of things I relate to as a citizen of Britain too. The amazing thing is how far we’ve come along, from requiring an Act of Parliament to confer citizenship on the first British Chinese resident, and a lively group of people who are setting up amazing organisations such as the BC Project, NeeHao, and Visible Chinese.
Conscious about the past, I am keen to bring awareness to the struggles of our forefathers and foremothers, and how we can progress to retain a society of inclusiveness and dialogue. I feel very close to my roots in both places, and I have also developed a love of Toronto, which I consider also a home.
What do you enjoy the most?
I love travelling; I’ve trekked the Gobi Desert with my best friends; lined up in the Shanghai Expo for 14 hours in total; reached the Andes with some really helpful and caring people (I was a bit unfit for that one!); visiting the Mayan ruins outside of Cancun; and walking through the streets of Havana in Cuba.
It’s really inspirational and opens doors to cultures and new worlds. I’m quite a fan of reading some “cultural relativism theories”; how can you really know what you know is true when others hold such differing views? As a huge fan of Socrates, I believe that true knowledge is knowing that you know nothing. Let us embrace the fact that there’s so much to learn from others, from their experiences and insights.
What is your vision for London, and maybe also, England?
I want more political participation amongst the youth. I want people to get excited about the benefits of a society that gives you the opportunity to be listened to. The power of all these platforms available to us will allow us to really voice what we believe in.
As a diverse city, London serves as a viable arena for positive dialogue between people of different nations, sexual orientations, religions, cultures and other differences in backgrounds.
Furthermore, I want to bring attention to marginalised communities. During my experiences in Toronto, I was absolutely amazed by the strength in dialogue between different cultures and the awareness people have for their position in Canadian society as a whole. We have the opportunity to make positive impacts through supporting each other.
Additionally, I love the Confucian saying that espouses how anyone can become a scholar and how anyone can become emperor, whatever their background. In order to interpret the saying in the modern sense, I’d say that we should embrace equality of opportunities and create an atmosphere that fosters this.
What is your proudest achievement?
As a passionate advocate for cross-cultural dialogue, I jump-started the Asian Diaspora Conference in Toronto alongside some of the most amazing friends, which brought together 20 leaders of the Asian-Canadian community and academics specialising on diaspora issues. Amongst the speakers, included Senator Vivienne Poy, a true inspiration and a strong role model of mine; topics of the conference included food, culture, discrimination, colonialism, identity-crises, citizenship and politics. It brought together 200 members of the public and student community. I was really happy when a Japanese man who had lived through Canada during the internment camp years thanked me for raising awareness; to top off the day, I received loads of books as presents!
Furthermore, I value learning and the exchange of ideas. Selected for the East Asian Studies’ Graduate Conference at the University of Toronto as one of four undergraduate panellists, I presented an article discussing issues of identity surrounding Taiwanese subjectivity. Michel Marion and I started the East Asian Studies Students Union’s academic journal and conference project which gave students the chance to share their dissertations with professors and graduate students. With a keen interest in current affairs, the past, and prospects for a constructive and inclusive future, I hope that we can all encourage the public at large to be proactive, and take part in all the opportunities open to them.
Who do you admire?
I’m really lucky in that I’m surrounded by crazy-amazing people all the time. Great deeds are being done every day, and I feel touched by those who offer their hand to those in need. We can find inspiration in so many people, and I believe that sometimes we overlook what positive contributions are being made constantly in our society. People are being doubted every day, but they have the bravery to make their dreams come true and/or even contribute to their communities!
Can you tell us more about the charities involved in the Miss London Beauty Pageant?
Make a Wish Foundation is a charity I admire for its dedication to making a huge difference in children’s lives who are affected by terminal diseases. To meet a role model; to try a profession they’ve always aspired to become; or to experience something special to them, these are among the 6,400 wishes they’ve made come true in the past 25 years.
HOPE for Children supports orphaned, disabled and severely impoverished children from all around the world. Embracing the idea that children should have the basic support that everyone deserves.
Help for Heroes is an apolitical organisation that looks to help those injured in Afghanistan and Iraq. Regardless of the contentious and difficult politics that often tends to overshadow the issues here; we should look to support those who have given their all and risk their lives in the name of their country.
To donate, please click here: http://bit.ly/MissLondon
Nee Hao Magazine asks our readers that we should all get behind and support Yinsey, as she is ‘representing’, safe.
VOTE FOR YINSEY : Text: 23YinseyY to 84205 (Texts cost 60p each!).
Voting halts at 12pm on 28th May 2011.
The Final of Miss London is 28th May 2011.