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Two words of pure pressure: Miss Universe (2)

By Tiffany Tan  (China Daily)

13:32, October 30, 2012

Kan, a Chinese-American beauty icon on the mainland, who took the helm of Miss Universe China last year, has said she hopes to produce the first-ever Chinese Miss Universe. The closest China has come to winning the crown was in 2002, when the country's first representative to the pageant, 19-year-old Zhuo Ling, became second runner-up.

Last year's contestant - the first under Kan's mentorship - 24-year-old Shanghainese Luo Zilin, became fourth runner-up. Kan tries to remain realistic about the odds - Xu is up against some 80 other girls - but you can sense the pressure she's facing.

"What she is as a person at the age of 22, I can't cram more into than I can. Everything relies on how she does that night," Kan says. "It doesn't matter if she wins or not. In fact, if she wins, I lose her for a year. She works for Miss Universe for a year.

"But if she doesn't win, it's OK, too. The more important thing is that she represent the country well."

There must be tremendous strain on the 1.8-meter tall beauty queen, especially since her predecessor landed in the top five.

"It's better to describe it as motivation, not pressure," Xu says. "In the past 60 years, no Miss China has become Miss Universe, so I want to achieve better results. This is my motivation."

With less than two months left before she flies to Las Vegas, what else needs to be done?

"I think it's just helping her to be more confident," says Tamara Pohlman, the American managing director of Miss Universe China. "Just be yourself, and be proud of where you're from. She's beautiful. She's smart. She has a chance just like any other girl over there - maybe even more because she has a great heart."

In the self-confidence arena, Xu seems to be learning fast. After the Miss Universe China contest, some members of the public expressed dissatisfaction with her win, homing in on her looks.

Xu, who says she didn't know about those criticisms, just shrugged them off.

"They don't really know me. But you can't make all people like you," she says. "Beauty for everyone is different. I just can improve myself."

Well said in the language she's still trying to master.

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