What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘beauty pageant’?
Is it the glitz and glamour, the hair and makeup or the sashes and crowns?
When I started my journey as a model in June 2018, I became acutely aware of the prejudice within the modelling industry. I was turned down for jobs because I didn’t have the right eye colour, face shape or the 'right look'. I even heard the phrase, “Oh... YOU… a model?”
Being only 5’2 and having a tooth gap, I realised just how much courage it takes to put yourself on display. You’re subject to public opinion, and that’s a little scary.
So, when one of my friends suggested I enter Miss Diamond Australia 2019 – one of Australia’s upcoming beauty pageants – I first brushed it off, believing it to be a pageant that purely focused on a person’s looks.
But, I was curious. I jumped online to investigate it. Instead of advertising a competitive atmosphere, they encouraged inclusivity. The competition wasn’t going to be judged on beauty alone, they believed in looking at your inward appearance too – your personality, beliefs and what you stand for. I felt my heart leap – this was exactly what I was looking for!
I quickly submitted my application. Before I knew it, I was accepted into the competition and fast-tracked to become Queensland’s representative for the junior teen section. What a whirlwind!
What really convinced to me to do this wild, crazy experience was the opportunity to raise funds for a charity of our choice. I’m supporting White Ribbon Australia, which works to aid women who have been subject to domestic violence. It also looks into sources of abuse to help prevent future incidents. As someone who has suffered from the effects of violence from an early age, it’s a cause I hold close to my heart.
As a contestant, I have been asking myself what do I want audiences to see? Do I want them to see the dresses, the makeup, the crowns? Or... do I want them to see my vulnerability and why I want to use my voice the way I do? I hope my advocacy of this issue will be heard by people all over.
I want audiences to look past the rhinestones and dresses and see the stripped back me – an average teen girl who wants to make the world a more inclusive space.
by Hannah Sisson