According to a Chinese saying, “what’s on the outside is influenced by what’s in your heart,” says Fiona Ji, a contestant in the New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Global Chinese Beauty Pageant—also known as Miss NTD.
“I fully agree with that,” she told The Epoch Times’ sister media outlet NTD.
“If you elevate yourself morally and become a more virtuous person, then that type of natural beauty will shine through, into your outward appearance.”
“As you age, your physical beauty might decline. But what’s on the inside will last forever,” she added.
Ms. Ji is a first-year college student majoring in German studies. She grew up in a traditional Chinese household, immersed in ancient Chinese values and etiquette, which informed her understanding of what being a “true lady” means.
When her mother suggested participating in Miss NTD, she saw it as an opportunity to spread “the value of traditional culture through an interesting and creative way,” said she.
Traditional FemininityMs. Ji mentioned learning traditional Chinese values and etiquette taught her what her duties are as a daughter, sister, student, or friend.
At home, “I learned about respecting your elders and caring for your juniors, and rules such as taking and handing things to your elders with both hands,” said she.
“I also grew up hearing all about the stories of ancient Chinese heroines like Mu Guiying the female general, Wang Zhaojun, one of the four ancient beauties of China,” she recounted.
Such stories helped her understand “different dimensions and facets of traditional Chinese feminine beauty,” what “feminine strength” meant in ancient China, and what it entails “to be a true lady.”
“I grew up imagining myself as these heroines and wondering what I would have done if I were in their shoes,” she added.
She also recounted her concept of beauty was influenced by learning Chinese traditional dance, which she has done since she was 7 years old.
Dancing connected Ms. Ji to her Chinese roots and taught her how one’s inner world affects the external appearance.
“Only when you have an upright moral character and are morally strong will you be able to display the most authentic and true version of yourself on stage,” she said.
Languages as Bridges to Other CulturesMs. Ji is grateful that she speaks Mandarin, which granted her access to her heritage, something many other Chinese descendants have lost.
Besides Mandarin, she speaks fluent English and French, and knows basic Spanish. She is currently studying German at college.
“I believe that languages truly help open doors to different worlds and different cultures,” she mentioned.
Holding on to TraditionMs. Ji is concerned that people her age are moving away from traditional culture and tend to reject it.
“That’s a really sad thing that’s happening, because I think there’s actually a lot of valuable lessons and values that we can learn from traditional Chinese culture and other traditional cultures as well,” she said.
“Young people today shouldn’t just throw these things away, it’s really important to see the value in your heritage.”
Miss NTD 2023 will be held at the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College in Harrison, New York, from Sept. 24 to Oct. 1. During this time, judges will consider four categories: an interview with judges; on-stage questions and answers; dancewear to showcase fitness, poise, and posture; and an evening gown. Those who choose to may also compete in the optional performing arts categories of creative, singing, or dancing— either classical Chinese or ballet.
The awards include a $10,000 cash prize, Shen Yun’s Heavenly Phoenix gold necklace and earring set, designer dresses, a collection of other gifts, and the honor of wearing the official Miss NTD phoenix crown, a beautiful sapphire tiara, for a year.