When I first heard that there was a Messianic Israeli representative in an International Beauty Pageant, “Miss Glamorous,” I raised an eyebrow. I actually even found out that I personally knew Neta Miller. But something in Neta’s image that I recalled did not quite fit into the world of glamor and so I was very curious to interview her.
Miller, 33, is married with three children, lives in Kiryat Yam and is a part of a local congregation. She grew up in a family of Messianic believers and was always active in community service. The competition in which Miller participated was held in Belgium in July.
What motivated you to participate in a beauty pageant, and how did you get in contact with the pageant?
A representative of the beauty pageant Miss Glamorous surprisingly contacted me through a social network. In their search for candidates from all over the world, they came across my profile, which suited them in terms of criteria for this particular competition for women aged 25 to 45. I had never been interested in beauty pageants until that moment, in fact I had a negative attitude toward the whole idea. However, I had recently gone through a personal crisis following my mother’s death and so an adventure of this kind seemed like something that could help me recover. But that isn’t the only reason.
As a full-time mother who devotes all her time to my family and spends a lot of time at home, I joined a few groups of mothers on social networks in order to have some sort of a social life. I quickly realized that the fact that I am a housewife was treated with hostility by other women. I encountered many critical responses including: I am inferior as a woman, I’ve sacrificed my life, I do not take care of myself and my children should see me as a happy and fulfilled mother. I thought a beauty pageant was my chance to promote the idea that a housewife was not necessarily a neglected woman, but is rather equal to other women.
What is the definition of beauty in your opinion, and what is it about you that made you a candidate of becoming the next “Miss Glamorous”?
I was always told that I am special. Not necessarily beautiful, there are many beautiful women. I believe that there is something inside me that glows from within, and that is my faith. People in the world define it as inner beauty, but I know that it is the beauty of God that dwells in every believer. A Messianic believer demonstrates calmness, security and inner peace. There is something safe and deep in his gaze. Innocence and purity are also beautiful in my opinion. I kept myself for my husband, and I have nothing to be ashamed of. I think that when we are not ashamed of our innocence, people appreciate it.
During the competition, did you tell the organizers or interviewers that you are a Messianic believer?
I was asked in advance not to mention the fact that I am a Messianic believer, because I represent Israel and it would only hurt my chances. They asked me to keep this a secret until I had gone through all the stages and got into the competition. I felt bad about it. On the first day that we arrived at the competition and got to know the other candidates, a representative of the United States who was also the daughter of a congregation leader shared her testimony with everyone about how she came to the competition following a vision and that she was here to promote her faith. She also won first place at this beauty pageant. I was ashamed to have hidden my faith and from that day, I began to share with everyone that I am a Messianic believer.
How was the experience to represent Israel?
I was a bit afraid of the treatment I would receive, but there was a great deal of interest and I was welcomed very well. They asked me about the peace process and our relations with our Arab neighbors. In my speech before the judges, I said that I wanted to work and stand up for peace. Unfortunately, my participation in an international event as a representative of the State of Israel did not receive proper coverage in the local media in Israel. In principle, beauty pageants in Israel are not so popular, and beauty pageants for mothers don’t exist at all. This is a weak field in Israel.
What message would you like to convey on this occasion to women who are under constant pressure to conform to the standards of beauty that the world demands? Would you recommend other women to participate in a beauty pageant?
I recommend that Messianic girls or women do not enter this field. This is a bubble that many women are drawn to and they lose themselves in the pursuit of unrealistic criteria. Furthermore, it is an endless pursuit as you will never reach satisfaction. There will always be women that are more beautiful, thinner and more successful. The Messianic believer is simply not suited to this and her lifestyle is very different, hindering her from competing with other women who are experienced in all kinds of things that we keep ourselves from.
When I entered this competition, I was in a bad spiritual state. My congregation did not support me in this decision, and that is good actually, otherwise our state as believers would be concerning. I did not expect nor did I ask for support, because I felt that it was contrary to biblical principles. Moreover, today, after the experience I went through, I can advise other believing women — young or old, married and unmarried — not to enter this field. This is not the place for believers to be.
The interview with Neta surprised me. I appreciate her courage to look back and recap her spiritual experience, to admit misguided judgment and to share her thoughts and conclusions with a wider audience.
At the end of the interview, I could not help remembering the verses in 1 Peter 3: 3-4: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”