Foreign domestic workers who wish to join beauty contests can easily participate as pageants are often available.
However, joining such events can cost participants as much as S$1,000 (US$735) for one-day shows held at hotels, dance studios or commercial office venues.
With prestige and cash prizes of up to S$2,000 or almost four times a helper’s monthly minimum wage, such contests lure maids to sign up and compete for the crown, according to Shin Min Daily News.
Each beauty contest could attract up to 40 participant, each of whom have to pay registration fees, costume fees, and fees for makeup and etiquette classes. Each participant would also be responsible for selling raffle tickets to build their own crowd of supporters among the general audience.
But Transient Workers Count Too, a Singapore non-profit organization advocating the welfare of domestic workers, told the Shin Min Daily News that maids had reported that they were not informed of hidden costs, such as extra charges for costumes, until they had already agreed to participate. It cited one beauty contest winner as saying she had to pay for her own crown.
Jessica, a 33-year-old Filipino participant said she paid an equivalent of one month’s salar to prepare for the show. But she regretted joining the contest after the organizer chased her for extra S$100 to cover for unsold tickets. Jessica argued that she met te stated minimum of S$300 worth of tickets.
Organizers say fees they charge were all spent on renting venues, equipment, prizes and promotional advertisements. They added that classes on hairstyling, makeup, catwalking and aerobic dancing were aimed at equipping maids with useful skills for their future career when they return home.
They were doing their best to seek sponsors so as to lower the costs as much as possible, organizers claim.