Miss Thailand Anna Sueangam-iam wore a dress made of soda tabs at the Miss Universe preliminary.
The dress, designed by Manirat, combines aluminum tabs from cans with Swarovski crystals.
Sueangam-iam said the dress pays tribute to her upbringing and parents, who were garbage collectors.
The Miss Universe pageant kicked off this week with the preliminary competition — and one contestant is already making headlines.
Miss Thailand Anna Sueangam-iam wowed the crowd with a dress made of soda tabs, which she wore during the evening-gown round.
Now the dress has gone viral, racking up more than 150,000 likes since Sueangam-iam shared a photo on her Instagram.
The upcycled ensemble — which was designed by the brand Manirat and is known as the "Hidden Precious Diamond Dress" — combines the aluminum pull-tabs of soda cans with Swarovski crystals.
There's also a hidden meaning in the dress. The soda tabs pay tribute to Sueangam-iam's upbringing.
"This gown was inspired by the familiar surroundings of my childhood," she wrote on Instagram. "Growing up with garbage collector parents, my life as a child was among piles of garbage and recyclables. This unique gown was purposefully tailor-made with discarded and recycled materials, namely the 'Can Tab' to present to the UNIVERSE that what's considered worthless by many actually possesses its own value and beauty. Thank you all for seeing it, hearing it, and hopefully being that message of self-worth." 🕊
"Although she was called by some as 'the garbage beauty queen,' that never stops her from shining bright as a precious gem," read a caption on the Miss Thailand Instagram page.
According to her official Miss Universe bio, Sueangam-iam, now 24, was born and raised in a slum in Bangkok. Her family later sent her to a temple to protect her from an unsafe environment. She grew up among Buddhist nuns and her meals primarily consisted of the monks' leftovers.
"At an early age, poverty differentiated her life at school from other children, especially the cost of tuition," her bio reads. "In order to cover her tuition fees, she had to collect merit points, donate blood every semester, collect plastic waste bottles, and clean public restrooms. This experience made her question the accessibility Thai children had to education."
Sueangam-iam now hopes to use her platform to represent and amplify the voices of children from underprivileged backgrounds. She currently works with a number of nonprofit organizations, including Smile Train Thailand.
The Miss Universe final will stream on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on The Roku Channel. It will also air on Telemundo in Spanish.
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