I presently hold the title of Miss Birmingham, I’m 21 years old and I am an intelligent young lady who is fed up of being enraged by what I read and doing nothing about it, so here I’m sharing how I feel with you. Miss Birmingham was the first ever pageant I have entered in April this year and surprisingly I won. Only since then have I been learning and following the Miss England Beauty Pageant and reading the stories and press from the regional heats, about the other girls in the competition. Regional heats are held all over the country, then ultimately 60 of those girls will make it through to the finals to vie for the title of Miss England; the winning girl will then represent the country into the finals of Miss World. What I have found most concerning even above the ‘sexism/feminism/old-fashioned’ debate is the overwhelming amount of nasty and negative comments I have not only seen, but also personally experienced. I challenge you to find a single article about any of the girls in these pageants that is not then followed by a torrent of offensive, derogatory and personally insulting comments on these girls from the way they look to what they have been quoted to say by the press (which in my experience was never accurate to my own words anyway). Yes, you can argue these girls are asking to be ‘judged’ in entering such competitions, but what gives these Internet ‘trolls’ the right to be so cruel in their comments?
These are strong young women, who want to make a positive difference; why are we so penalised for that? On one hand we’re criticised that it’s purely about looks and vanity, yet on the next hand we’re tore down for not being pretty enough, and every other comment is professing to know several much more attractive girls. None of us profess to be the most beautiful girl, the most intelligent, the most talented, or the fittest, we merely put ourselves out there to be the best we possibly can as well rounded individuals and good role models. So how can we win the battle against the bad publicity? Education, I think, is the only way we can dispel the myths and put right the ignorance around the whole pageant, which leads to misconceptions and ultimately the negativity born out of misunderstanding. The pageants fell out of favour and began being branded dated and anti-feminist during the 70’s and 80’s, but look at where we are now; you can’t possibly argue that the ideologies of feminism then are considerably different to what we would consider appropriate feminism now? Don’t mistake me, I don’t consider myself an active feminist by any stretch, but I simply cannot comprehend current ‘feminists’ slating a young girl for how she looks and her decisions she is choosing to make?
My only experience to date is the Miss England Pageant, which consists of several rounds. All rounds are optional, you aren’t obliged to entering any, it is up to you. The rounds/awards are:
Beach Beauty- the girls submit a photo of themselves in swimwear, a selection of these are then chosen and the girls are invited to a photo shoot on board the luxury triple 7 yacht. The winner is awarded a place in top 15 as Beach Beauty. It’s entirely optional, and the winner only had her picture from the shoot shown on the evening, she at no point walks the cat walk in swimwear.
Halo Hair (hair extension sponsors)
Xtreme Sportswomen- Really hard core military bootcamp, girls were invited to experience their Luxury Xtreme Bootcamp where we were pushed to our limits and exhausted both physically and emotionally. There was then a bootcamp circuits session over the final weekend where the girls battled it out for the Xtreme Sports woman award and place in the final 15. It’s absolutely as much mental strength as physical, and takes sheer determination and 100% effort to do well in this round.
Brainy Beauty- A new general knowledge round included where the girls each sat a brief 10 min 20 question general knowledge test to check how in keeping with current affairs the ladies are.
Eco- The girls are asked to make, customise, borrow or purchase a dress from a charity shop. This round is a chance for the girls to show their creativity and think outside the box whilst also making you very aware of waste, recycling and reusing.
Popularity- Public vote
Social Media- Most likes and shares through social media
Publicity- The girl who has promoted and attracted most media attention and publicity for her charity endeavours and sponsorship.
Talent- The girls are invited to submit a 2 minute talent video, a top selection are then chosen and asked to perform live for an audience, a winner is then selected and fast tracked to the final 15.
Beauty with a Purpose- Awarded to the girl who raises the most money for charity
Fresh Modelesque- Sponsors invite girls to photoshoot at the fresh academy in Watford, they then select a winner for the modelesque award and a place in the final 15
There are then 4 judges choices through to the top 15 (or more if girls win multiple awards to make the final 15). The girls are welcome to partake in as many or as few of the above awards as they wish to, so the swimwear round is totally optional. I find it sad girls are criticised for choosing to partake in this round; should we not be celebrating and promoting body confidence in young girls? It takes a lot for these girls to put their bodies out there and the negative feedback only instils poor body confidence and cements the attitude of anything less than photo shop is not good enough. That is, in my opinion, totally the wrong message to be sending out. These girls are trying to be happy, healthy role models for the next generation of young girls and ought to be celebrated for that surely, not chastised.
Much like every girl that enters a pageant (or at least every girl who wins a pageant), I do want to make a positive impact, firstly even by just dispelling the stigma that clouds modern day pageants.
I want to stand out in solidarity for Carina, and support her in whatever decisions she chooses to make, and wish her every success in all she does. You’re a beautiful, bright and talented young lady who can and will achieve all you set out to. “Just because someone puts you down it doesn’t mean what they say is true, it only proves you are better than them and their negativity” Alfred Gutierrez.
I’ve no doubt this article will spark a host of comments telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I’m brave enough to face that and speak out about what I believe to be right irrespective. I’d like to end by welcoming any questions you may have and ask you be open minded, and consider the possibility that just maybe, pageants aren’t all that bad afterall…?