„Apparently it was supposed to be like this” – interview with Anna Tarnowska – 2nd Runner-Up in Miss International 2008

Anna Tarnowska is a Polish model and photomodel, one of the most successful laureates of the prestigious Miss Polonia pageant, which has won the titles of Miss Polonia of West Pomeranian Voivodeship 2007, 1st Runner-Up of Miss Polonia 2007, 1st Runner-Up of Miss Baltic Sea & Scandinavia 2008, 3rd Runner-Up of Miss Intercontinental 2009 and Runner-Up of World Miss University. However, she achieved the greatest success in Japan, where she won the title of 2nd Runner-Up in Miss International 2008! In an interview with the Imperium Miss – Empire of Miss, the beautiful model talks about her impressions and feelings about participating in beauty contests. 

Kamil Gużewski (K.G): Let’s start memories from the very beginning, i.e. the election of Miss Polonia of West Pomeranian Voivodeship 2007. Where did the idea for participation in the regional competition come from?

Anna Tarnowska (A.T): There was no idea as such. I started working in a Szczecin modeling agency, took part in various photo sessions, attended in fashion shows. One day, at one of the fashion shows I met Gosia Rożniecka. I met her through mutual friends. They mentioned that Gosia is organizing Miss of West Pomeranian Voivodeship and they started to persuade me to participate. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely convinced that I wanted to take part in this competition, but Gosia was pressing hard. I have to give her that, because she came to me with a casting card and tried to get me to participate, so it was the same that came to me. Apparently it was supposed to be this way.

(K.G): Małgorzata Rożniecka as the organizer, Marzena Cieślik – retiring Miss of the region and Miss Polonia 2006 – there were a high bar for the participants! Was there tension among the girls about this?

(A.T): I have to admit that it was such a period for me that I didn’t have time to participate in all this preparation for the final of the regional competition. It was somehow in June, when I was studying, having a exam session, taking exams. Later I had a trip to the fairs in Germany. I worked for an American company and traveled a lot with them after various fairs. Later, in turn, I had a sports camp organized by the school. In fact, I came back to Szczecin from this sports camp, which took place in the Drawsko Lake District for two days – for the final. Earlier, the girls had a lot of activities related to the grouping, and I was only at one or two events preparing us. I just arrived the day before the final and participated only in the evening rehearsal. Anyway, I thought it was to my disadvantage. I didn’t take part in all the rehearsals, so I was much less prepared. I didn’t feel as confident on stage as the rest of the girls. At the beginning it didn’t matter, but when I won the competition the girls looked at me crookedly. And for the jury it didn’t matter. They didn’t know if anyone went to rehearsals or not. They rated what was happening on stage and apparently They liked me. It was such a situation in which, I must admit, I felt a lot of resentment from the girls and I was a bit discouraged at the time. I wasn’t convinced if I wanted to participate in the next stages of the competition.

(K.G): That’s right. The final election of Miss Polonia of West Pomeranian Voivodeship 2007 brought you victory. How did you feel with the title of the most beautiful inhabitant of the region?

(A.T): As I said before, it was a big surprise for me because I didn’t quite see myself in beauty competitions. It all happened a little bit outside of me. I didn’t pull on it, it was the competition that pulled me. Of course it was very nice, but I was not fully aware of how it will affect on my life.

(in the center: Anna Tarnowska as Miss Polonia of West Pomeranian Voivodeship 2007, photo. Szczecinbiznes.pl)

(K.G): The next stops on your way to the Miss Polonia 2007 final were Łódź (the quarterfinal and semi-final) and Mrągowo (the pre-final grouping). How do you remember these stages in organizational terms? Have you had time to visit these places?

(A.T): I remember that we were in Łódź for four days. There is a piece of road from Szczecin to Łódź, so straight from the train we went to the room where the quarterfinals were held. In fact, we changed our clothes in the toilet, we painted ourselves and quickly went to a meeting with the jury. After only a few hours it was known who was left for the semi-final and who was coming home. I was chosen, so I stayed in Łódź for four days. I remember that it all happened quite quickly. I remember well my first stay in this city. There was not much time for sightseeing, because four days and preparation for the gala is very little. We had choreographies, many rehearsals. But I remember that there was a meeting with the President of Łódź, photos, a stay in Manufaktura. I was in Łódź for the first time, so it was nice to see this place thoroughly.

As for the pre-final grouping in Mrągowo, it was also my first stay in Masuria. I remember girls, organizers, our carers and choreographers very nice. I remember that it was at the beginning of September and it was terrible, terribly cold. We were not prepared for such weather and parents sent us packages with warm sweaters and shoes. Just like before the semi-final, we had a lot of rehearsals, in the meantime we went to Warsaw, visited the Pytanie na śniadanie tv program, and recorded ours cards. We had a trip to Mikołajki, we were on a motorboat. It was very nice, however, the majority of the grouping were rehearsals.

(K.G): What was relationship between participants to the crown of Miss Polonia 2007? You spent two weeks together …

(A.T): I remember it well. To date, I have contact with Basia (Barbara Tatara) and Ewelina (Ewelina Sienicka), i.e. with Miss Polonia and 2nd Runner-Up of Miss Polonia. I remember all the girls very well. Even if there were any unpleasant situations, I just don’t remember them. It was very cool. I think that all the girls were very pretty. It was really nice.

(Finalists of Miss Polonia 2007, Anna Tarnowska second from right in the top row, photo. Biuro Miss Polonia)

(K.G): The members of the jury panel were, among others Ewa Wachowicz, Marek Włodarczyk, Przemysław Saleta and Robert Moskwa. What did you feel knowing that You were judged by such popular people in the country?

(A.T): I honestly say that I didn’t think about it in any particular way. The jury is a jury and whoever it is, you are always evaluated. I take into account that this is very relative. There are different liking and it is known that someone can be a fan of Slavic beauty, and someone more oriental. Someone prefers blondes, somebody prefers dark girls, and here it seems to me that it is also a matter of chance. However, there are classic types of beauty that are gaining recognition somewhere. It didn’t stress me that much and didn’t affect me in any way. I knew that there was a jury, that I would be judged, and that there was always some stress. Certainly it was important that in the jury Ewa Wachowicz was who herself was extremely successful in beauty competitions. It mattered too. It was nice that earlier we had the opportunity to meet with Ewa and Kasia Borowicz. The girls told us a little about their experience, which certainly gave us a lot.

(Jury of the Miss Polonia 2007 pageant, from the left: Ewa Wachowicz, Katarzyna Borowicz, Przemysław Saleta, Marek Włodarczyk, photo. pb.info.pl)

(K.G): The sympathy and voices of Poles made that you receive the title of Miss Polonia of TV Viewers and a direct promotion to the TOP 5. Did you expect such success?

(A.T): It is known that I did not expect. Reaching such a stage as the finale, man one hopes that something will be gained. There were such thoughts that I would like to get a title or even win. Earlier we were informed that Miss Polonia of TV Viewers would receive a car, so it was even more exciting. I didn’t have my car then and I thought it would be great to get it.

(Anna Tarnowska during the Miss Polonia 2007 final, photo. Fakt.pl/Plejada.pl)

(K.G): Ultimately, you took 2nd place losing only with Barbara Tatara from Łódź. How do you remember and evaluate winner of Miss Polonia 2007? Have you had time to get to know each other better?

(A.T): To be honest, we got to know each other better after the competition. Before the final, I was most familiar with the girls with I was in the room. And only later, after the final with Basia and Ewelina. I like them both so I have very good memories of them.

(from the left: Anna Tarnowska, Barbara Tatara, Ewelina Sienicka, photo. pb.info.pl)

(K.G): The award for Miss Polonia of TV Viewers which you mentioned, i.e. a passenger car, turned out to be quite controversial. Many of your fans (you were the favorite to the crown) said that the title of Miss Polonia of TV Viewers prevented you from winning the Miss Polonia title just because of the award (winner of Miss Polonia 2007 also won the car). Would you agree with this thesis?

(A.T): It’s hard to say. In my life I try not to think what would happen if, because if it happened, apparently it was supposed to be like that. However, I have heard voices so many times that it was a bit like a “bear’s favor”. The more that a year later the rules were changed, and the girl won thanks the votes of viewers, i.e. the title of Miss Polonia of TV Viewers was equal to the title of Miss Polonia. But as I say, it was supposed to be. I am happy with the titles that I had and later thanks to which I traveled a lot, rode around various world competitions, which I also remember very nicely.

(Anna Tarnowska receives the award for Miss Polonia of TV Viewers, photo. Magazyn Motoryzacyjny „Jedź Bezpiecznie”)

(K.G): A month after your national success, you were delegated to the Miss Baltic Sea & Scandinavia 2008 pageant. As far as I know, you don’t remember your trip to Finland and Estonia very well. Why?

(A.T): We spent the first night probably in Helsinki. I was sick then, I got sore throat or even laryngitis. I felt very bad, I had a fever, my throat ached terribly. I felt like something was in my throat and it was a terribly unpleasant feeling. In the morning I felt so bad that a doctor was called to me. After examination, it was found that they could take me to the hospital, but in the same morning the girls gathered and sailed to Tallinn by ferry. Therefore, I had to make a decision: either I stay and go to the hospital or swim with them. I am a person who rather does not give up in this way, so I decided that I would go and fight this disease somehow. For one or two days I ate almost nothing, I tried to eat only liquid things, I constantly drank hot tea with honey and somehow healed myself of it. I don’t know how it happened, that there were no complications, because in the middle of the night we had photos outside. We were on the ferry (in the place where the helicopter lands), in the middle of the Baltic Sea, in cocktail dresses, and because it was autumn, it wasn’t too hot. Interesting experience. I am such that if I have a goal, I am in myself and I am very determined. That it was then. Surprisingly, I somehow got up and cured myself of this disease. It was a big lesson for me.

(Anna Tarnowska in a photo session on the ferry during Miss Baltic Sea & Scandinavia 2008, photo. HLPhotography)

(K.G): How long did the Miss Baltic Sea & Scandinavia 2008 grouping last and what was the atmosphere between the participants?

(A.T): It was not a long grouping, it probably lasted a week. The atmosphere was ok, I remember it well. The girls were nice. Earlier, a Polish woman won two years in a row. A year ahead of me Dorota Gawron, previously Malwina Ratajczak. I already had downhill in advance because there were voices that I could not win, because a Polish woman cannot win every year. But it was the first such competition for me, the first experience.

(K.G): The final of the Miss Baltic Sea & Scandinavia 2008 elections took place on a luxury cruise ship. Have you noticed any differences between this finale and the traditional one organized e.g. in the entertainment hall?

(A.T): Of course, yes, the differences are huge. It was in such a room on the ship. First of all, even though I didn’t drink alcohol at all, sometimes I thought I was drunk. It just accused me of it. It was quite a funny feeling. The finale was much more intimate (at least I have that’s the memories about this) than in the auditorium, where there is television, everything is recorded and made with a lot greater momentum. This is a completely different kind of event, so you can’t compare it.

(Inside: Anna Tarnowska during the Miss Baltic Sea & Scandinavia 2008 finals, photo. HLPhotography)

(K.G): Another final and Your another second place. Satisfied you with the title of 1st Runner-Up in Miss Miss Baltic Sea & Scandinavia?

(A.T): It was my first international competition and I was very happy that I got any title. And as I say, I have already said in advance that I have no chance of winning because Polish women cannot take first place all the time ?.

(Anna Tarnowska as the 1st Runner-Up of Miss Baltic Sea & Scandinavia 2008, photos. HLPhotography)

(K.G): We are going to your greatest success – participation in the Miss International Pageant. How did you react to the offer to go to this competition?

(A.T): Of course I was very happy. First of all, I’ve always dreamed of traveling, and here I suddenly get information that I will fly to Japan and Hong Kong, that I will visit such exotic and distant for me countries. It was definitely very stressful because it was the first such journey in my life when I was flying alone. I just got on a plane and flew to the other end of the world. I didn’t even know who would pick me up. I didn’t have much experience with independent departures. In fact, I had an intercontinental flight for the first time in my life. It was a bit like a deep jump, but it always works out for good. It worked out very well for me and I thought it was a beautiful experience. I was happy and excited.

(K.G): Miss International 2008 grouping took place in China and Japan. You had the opportunity to visit Hong Kong, Chinese Macau or Tokyo. What impressed you the most in these places?

(A.T): It’s long to tell. What impressed me in Hong Kong? I think the enormity of the huge skyscrapers that are so densely built. Hong Kong is an amazing city, quite Europeanized for an Asian city. It used to be a British colony, so feel this influence. A lot of people speak English very well there, so is no problem getting along. At least, that was more than ten years ago. I don’t know how it is now, but in Japan, for example, it was more difficult to get along in English, even in a hotel. It was definitely a beautiful place.

Same with Macau. We were accommodated in a beautiful Venetian hotel. It’s beautiful. The same hotel is in Las Vegas. One floor has just been taken to Venice. There are shops, canals, gondolas float, and the ceiling is painted to look like the real sky. A very, very beautiful hotel.

Tokyo is also an amazing place. It made a huge impression on me. I was still in Kyoto. Beautiful Japanese gardens. I really visited a lot during this competition and it was an amazing experience for me. First of all, this cultural divide – it is a completely different world. It was my first trip to Asia and I just couldn’t experience how much this world differs from ours, from Europe. It was a very interesting experience.

(from the left: Miss Ukraine, Miss Germany, Miss Poland and Miss Canada during the Miss International 2008 grouping, photo. Daily Telegraph)

(K.G): One could risk saying that Asians love Polish women. Aneta Kręglicka, Agnieszka Kotlarska, Małgorzata Rożniecka – they were all successful in Asia! During the grouping, did you feel that Asians were interested in your person?

(A.T): Yes, definitely. Asians are very fascinated with women with white skin and blondes. This is something exotic for them. I do not know how it is now, or maybe it spread a bit, but then, over ten years ago it was a big sensation. Sometimes even girls came over and wanted to touch me, my skin. It was amazing for them. I know that in Asia, the ideal of beauty is a woman with the appearance of a doll. A few people told me I looked like Barbie. I took it in a not too cool way, because in our case such a term is usually synonymous with artificial doll. And for them, the Barbie doll is simply an ideal of beauty. They liked my beauty very much, it was very exotic for them – blonde, fair complexion. So I saw a lot of interest.

(K.G): Over sixty girls from all over the world competed for the Miss International crown. How did you be found yourself in such a diverse group?

(A.T): That’s right. I have to admit that it was an amazing experience, because come more than sixty girls from all over the world and all they are beautiful. I don’t know how the jury chose it. It is really a very difficult choice because every girl is different. As I said, there are blondes with light skin, very oriental girls with slanted eyes and dark skin. With long or short hair. Higher or lower. But all beautiful. As a rule, at such international competitions everyone stands out with something, so it is really very, very difficult to assess. All the more it was a great honor for me that I was able to win the crown and the title of 2nd Runner-Up. 

I must admit that I experienced my first shock at the time. I came and saw that all the girls are so perfect, they have beautiful, long, thick hair and beautiful eyelashes. But later, somewhere in the wardrobe I saw that they were mostly attachabled hair and eyelashes. I saw such tricks that I was simply shocked. Now that’s normal, you go to Instagram and you see it all, right? But then wasn’t Instagram, it wasn’t all that widespread, especially with us. That’s why I was shocked when I saw how there are ways to be beautiful. There were so many moments or parties that we had to make up ourselves. I had no idea about professional makeup and was just learning to make up. I was looking at my Latin American friends because they were doing it great. I watched them step by step doing their makeup. I watched and imitated them a bit. Asian women too, although Asian women have a completely different beauty, so they do makeup differently. But I have to admit that I watched a little bit and started learning makeup.

(K.G): Such a trip is probably a good opportunity to make fantastic friendship right?

(A.T): Yes, definitely. This is a great opportunity. I remember we had notebooks and each wrote down e-mail addresses and information about each other. At that time, I didn’t have a Facebook account, but later when I created it, we found each other there (mostly with girls from later competitions). I keep most of these connections through this social network. I have contact with several girls, e.g. a girl who represented the United States at Miss World University. She is Peruvian by origin, but lives in Utah. Very nice girl, she was in room with me and I made friends with her. About five years ago, i.e. several years after the competition, being in Los Angeles I saw on Facebook that she was also in town for the weekend. I wrote a message to her and we met. Me from Poland, she from Utah, we met in South Korea, and we meet after a few years in Los Angeles. This is interesting and shows how small the world is and how social media makes contacting us easier.

(Anna Tarnowska – third from the left – during the Miss International 2008 grouping, photo. Daily Telegraph)

(K.G): You have participated in the national finals and the smaller international finals. But a few hours final of Miss International You can’t compare them?

(A.T): Yes, definitely. The Miss International competition was a huge undertaking. A really beautiful finale. Even some time ago I watched this finale to remember. It was a beautiful event, beautifully done. I just have to admit I don’t feel it lasts a few hours. Time flies quickly, there is adrenaline. There are going on stage. It passes like 5 minutes. This is definitely a huge stress. The grouping lasted over three weeks, so we were also all tired. But as I said, it is a huge adrenaline and fatigue one feels after all, when the emotions subside.

(K.G): I have asked you several times about emotions accompanying during the finals. Here too I have to ask about it – what did you feel when walking on the Venetian Arena stage? Miss International is a prestigious competition broadcast in many countries around the world …

(A.T): I definitely felt a lot of excitement. It was simply an amazing event for me, and I always treated all such events as a huge experience and something that would give me a lot for the future. I always try to get the most out of this type of event, get the most experience. And so it was. I was glad to be involved to it. I wanted to give my best. Somehow I probably did it. In fact, most of the girls had some support, someone come to the final – whether family or the organizers. Someone visited them or they had some relatives with them. I was alone. Such Ania, she flew to Japan and Hong Kong, and she succeeded. I was in the Top 3. It was amazing to me, very surprising. At that time, I didn’t fully realize how great this success was. It wasn’t until later that I realized that this is one of the biggest competitions in the world and I am the third in it. Wow.

(Anna Tarnowska during the Miss International 2008 final, photos. Pageant-mania/Missosology)

(K.G): You were the first Polish woman since 2001 who was promoted to TOP 12 in Miss International. Do you remember your reaction to the news of promotion and winning the title of 2nd Runner-Up?

(A.T): When I was promoted to TOP 12, it just cramped in my stomach because I was thinking only about two things to do. First of all – in one of the choreographies, each of the twelve girls went out to the center and had to dance solo. I really like dancing, but I’m not a dancer, so it was quite stressful. Secondly – each girl from TOP 12 had to prepare a one-and-a-half minute speech. Such a speech on stage and in a foreign language was my debut, so it was a lot of stress. My stomach twisted right away. I thought I had to tense myself and fall out as well as possible. But somehow it worked out. This speech got so caught up in my head that I still remember part of it today.

I was very happy to win the 2nd Runner-Up title. During the grouping, I heard voices (it is known that you can hear from various people, organizers, or from the media) that they bet on me as a favorite. So I was so aware that they had noticed me among more than sixty girls and they were betting on me, i.e. I had a good chance. But anyway, I was really, very surprised.

(K.G): Europe also triumphed, because for the first time since 2001 the representative of the European country – Spain became Miss International winner. How do you remember Alejandra Andreu?

(A.T): Very good. A very nice girl. In fact, I didn’t have too much contact with her before the final, so I didn’t get to know her particularly well. She was so quite quiet, rather stick with Spanish-speaking girls. Later, after the final, the three of us stayed together with the 1st runner-up (Miss Columbia) for ten more days in Asia and we really got to know each other better. Very nice girls, I remember them very well.

(from the left: Cristina Camargo, Alejandra Andreu, Anna Tarnowska, photo. Powerpuff Celebrity)

(K.G): Yeah. Success was associated with a slightly longer stay in Japan. Did you fall under any obligations arising from winning the title of 2nd Runner-Up?

(A.T): Yes. We took part in events, we had photo sessions. But I have to admit that the ten days which I stayed there were the best of it all. We were only three of us, so everyone was focused on what we were doing. We had a lot of activities, showed us a lot, we could visit. We were once again in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Macau. We were guests in Formula 3 races. We participated in various fashion shows. We were also receiving a lot of prizes. When I came back, I probably had over sixty kilos of excess baggage. Fortunately, the organizers of the Miss International competition helped me a lot, because I would have a problem back with such excess baggage. It was a really great time.

(from the left: Cristina Camargo, Alejandra Andreu, Anna Tarnowska, photo. WP.PL)

(K.G): Finally you came to home. How did the inhabitants of Your beloved Szczecin react to you?

(A.T): The biggest stir was especially among friends. People in Szczecin recognized me a little after the Miss Polonia pageant because it was broadcast on television, so a lot of people watched it. But I have to admit that at that time beauty contest in Poland were not as popular as they are at the moment. Now there is much more interest and when a girl goes to an international competition, it is said and written about it. And then it really boiled maybe on some forums talking about beauty pageants. It was not well publicized and there was not much interest. Also in my city. We know, the closest people enjoyed and congratulated me. I also studied at the same time, but fortunately people helped me. I got an individual process of learning, so after returning I could pass exams, subjects and all arrears. I had a lot of work but I was able to do it and I was really grateful that the professors enabled me. Indeed, at University this information spread very quickly and, as a rule, it was really very well received. And we know that it is different with this, because as I always say, sometimes beauty helps and sometimes disturbs. Sometimes it is treated in such a way that you have to fight some stereotypes, and sometimes it makes things a lot easier and people are definitely nicer.

(K.G): Exactly, You were a student while participating in all these competitions. How did you manage to reconcile so many responsibilities?

(A.T): As I said before, I managed to get an individual process of learning. The professors knew my situation, knew where I was going. I also talked to the dean about it and everything was agreed, so I got permission to go and pass all these exams later. In a way, it seems to me that the university is usually proud of the achievements of its students, especially internationally, so I think that is probably why they enabled me. I have to admit that after such an intense month it was not easy to come back. I was really tired, I still had jet lag, because there is probably eight hours time difference. And here was really hard work, huge backlog. I had to study, pass subjects and exams. It wasn’t easy, but I managed, so nothing is impossible.

(Anna Tarnowska – 2nd Runner-Up in Miss International 2008, photos. Biuro Miss Polonia)

(K.G): In November last year it’s been eleven years since you participated in Miss International. This is a good time for reflection. How would you rate yourself over the years? Have you gained or rather lost on Your participation in beauty contests?

(A.T): I have to say that I only gained. I certainly can’t say that I lost something because I absolutely don’t know what I could lose. I gained a lot, all my trips. In general, I think that travel educates and shapes character. Although it may seem like a vacation trip, it really is a toil. We often slept only a few hours. We had rehearsals, we were in makeup all the time, we had to look beautiful. I admit that when I returned to Poland, I only walked in a tracksuit and without makeup for a month. I couldn’t look at the heels and dresses, I didn’t feel like make up at all. I felt I wanted to rest. It was certainly difficult, but I think that all hard work, every challenge shape us a lot. They have certainly taught me a lot of humility. I got to know a piece of the world, I polished my languages ​​more. Not to mention the prizes which I’ve won. This competitions gave me a lot in a material sense. I won a huge amount of prizes and money, so as a young girl I was quite independent. It was all cool. I’ve always dreamed of being able to travel, and this gave me opportunities that I wouldn’t have at the time. I really saw a lot. I visited South Korea, China, Japan and Belarus. I think that I would not go on holiday to Belarus. And I’ve seen a lot, so it’s a great experience. So I can say that these competitions gave me a lot.

When someone asks me if it is worth going to it and taking part in the beauty pageant, I think and say that yes, it is definitely worth it. Of course, not at all costs, because I think that will be what is to be. You have to give your best, but if we are not able to win or get a title, then apparently it is not for us. Everyone has their own path and does not mean that they must be suitable for everything. As I say, it was a great experience. I had a lot of fun. And I encourage everyone who would like to take part in the competition.

Sometimes, girls are so jealous of each other that they try to get something by systems or enter into some kind of bad relationships. After the competitions, I was often asked if I experienced any suggestive suggestions from the organizers or anyone else. But I have to say no. I don’t know why, maybe I was just lucky. Always in interpersonal contacts, during such competitions, I mark with my behavior where the border is. I also know that I can’t do everything. Not at all costs. I will give my best to be the best in the final or grouping, but this is not an end in itself. I just think that nothing happens without a reason. If I am to win the title of second or third runner-up, this is how it should be. It has to show me something. I’ve always had this attitude. Probably it was palpable, which is why I was lucky not to experience any proposal, because it is certainly not nice. I read about various such situations, but luckily it didn’t happen to me.

By all means, if anyone wants to take part in the competition, I encourage you because it can be a really interesting and highly educational experience…

(Anna Tarnowska today, photo. Anna Tarnowska/Instagram)



PHOTOS. Biuro Miss Polonia, Anna Tarnowska/Instagram

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