“She is the slimmest,” Semisi points out with a shrug.I nod my head, glad to know we’re in total agreement.
Because the contestants in Tonga’s Miss Heilala competition are enormous. “We like our women big,” says a grinning Semisi, a fellow judge and native Tongan. “One of our judges for the Miss Tonga contest is sick,” he said, placing a mighty hand on my suddenly small arm.
“Exactly,” I say, “It’s an easy call.” But “slim” is Semisi’s way of explaining her fault. “I was brought up on Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss,” I remark, explaining my Northern Hemisphere conditioning as to the ideal female form. “With chicken legs.” I try to change my perspective when the ladies appear for the height of the competition.
They are before me in ball gowns, grasping much smaller men for their final dances.
Maybe my sweaty underarms will be mistaken for excitement.
By contestant four, the dance stage is drenched in oil.