Standing nearly 180cm tall, Marcela Ohio naturally commands attention, but it is her flawlessly beauty, her defined facial features and her grace that make people turn their heads. The interview took place at La Ferme, a Pattaya restaurant renowned for its divine food, but many of the guests that day did not even look at their plates — all eyes were on the 19-year-old Miss International Queen 2013. Ohio won the title in November last year in Pattaya. The Brazilian beauty was back in Thailand to appear at the Miss Tiffany’s Universe 2014, a beauty contest for transgender people, which took place yesterday. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of Tiffany’s Show, a transvestite cabaret performance. Ohio will also pose for Tiffany’s Show ads and in other modelling shoots during her stay. From the moment she arrived in Thailand, her days have been fully booked. Ohio has modelled since she was 17, which explains the professional poses she could instantly strike with every click of the camera’s shutter. “I started in my home town [of Andradina], but as I got more modelling jobs, I moved to Sao Paulo. One of my biggest moments was modelling for Fiat’s calendar. After that exposure, I got more jobs,” said Ohio. After she was crowned Miss International Queen last year, Ohio has seen even more modelling jobs coming her way, although not as many as she would have liked. Still, it is a job she loves passionately. Ohio said she has always wanted to be a model, but did not really think it was going to happen to her. It was a dream she did not try to pursue. “I was probably too young to take my dream seriously at the time, but now that I’ve tried it, I find that I really like it. Being a model doesn’t only mean putting on pretty dresses. Every dress has a story to tell and I have to embrace that story and show it,” she said. Ohio is one of the few transgender women in the pageant who has not undergone cosmetic surgery on her face. It was only a few parts of her body that needed alteration — most of her beauty, she said, comes from discipline. “I always eat healthy, but I do indulge in junk food from time to time. Once a month, I would treat myself to something like McDonald’s. I also take a great care of my skin on a daily basis because I have to put on full make-up often for my work. Never go to bed with make-up on!” Ohio said she always knew she was different from the boys around her — she liked painting her nails and growing her hair long. Thankfully, she has very supportive parents who saw her through the challenging transition into womanhood. When she was 15, Ohio finally worked up the courage to tell her parents she was a girl on the inside. It was news that, at least at first, was quite hard for her father to take. Her mother, though, was fine with it. “It took about a month for my father to understand. After that, he helped me by taking me to see psychologists to talk about my feelings and doctors to talk about safe hormone supplements. My friends were also very accepting, probably because we’d always been in the same school and they’d always known how I was. It wasn’t a shock or anything.” She fully realises that not everyone is as lucky as she is when it comes to gaining support and acceptance from their family. “Family should always be the first one to support a transsexual. If they have their family’s support, it is easier for them to adjust and lead a normal life like everyone else, to receive an education and get a normal job. If they don’t have support from their family or if the family kicks them out of the home — many will do that, especially in Brazil — they don’t have the opportunity to get an education. They will very likely end up in prostitution.” She feels very thankful for events like Miss Tiffany’s Universe and Miss International Queen, which serve as encouragement for transgender women and a platform to educate the public about the third gender. “Regular women want to wear gorgeous dresses and look pretty — transgender women want that as well, and this is their opportunity.” In the future, Ohio said, she would like to attend university like many people her age. She wants to study dermatology because she is passionate about skincare and beauty. However, she is also considering coming to work in Thailand. “People around the world are more informed about gender diversity and, little by little, are more accepting. It’s the same in most countries in the world, but in Thailand society is more accepting. Although there is still some discrimination, there are more job opportunities here. The organisers here at Tiffany’s Show are very generous to me and are in touch with modelling agents to help me get work here. Who knows? I might eventually move here if things go well,” Ohio said with a winning smile.
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