These were the words I heard in 2018 for the Finals of the first-ever Ms. Great Britain pageant running in 2019. Miss Great Britain celebrated 75 years in 2019 and to mark the occasion they held the first-ever Ms. Great Britain. With a strict age limit on Miss GB, this was their way to open the pageant world to more and celebrate all ages of women, but the pageant world was not one I ever thought I would find myself in.
So when you hear the words “Pageant World” what do you think? The film Miss Congeniality or perhaps the film Misbehaviour, which highlighted the 1970 Miss World Final in London? I had the preconception myself, to be honest, it was holding me back from entering. Surely it was going to be a little “pre-madonna” a bit “I love me” but it could not have been further from the truth.
From the minute they announced me as a finalist on social media, to this day, I have received such huge support from all those in the competition. There is only one crown for each title Miss GB and Ms. GB and there were 75 of us in the Leicester Arena. The long weekend was all about support, recognition, value, purpose. We all had a desire to succeed in life and to find out about each other.
Thursday and Friday were all about practice, practice, practice. Where to walk, where to stand, opening dance routine. It was like a regimented, well-oiled, and organised machine getting 75 ladies co-ordinated.
Friday night was the Fashion round and held at the Hotel, followed by a party to celebrate 75 years. I was nervous, but the girls around soon helped those nerves disappear, and no sooner had I walked out, strutted my stuff, then it was over. For those ladies that have walked down the aisle on their wedding day – how quickly does that moment pass.
Saturday day – final rehearsals and interviews – now most of you know how I love to talk, but I only had 5 minutes to get my story over and that really is not a long time. Practice, practice practice, being a professional speaker helped with this part because before I give any talk, I practice, practice, practice.
Saturday night – bags all packed and ready to travel to Leicester Arena. There were HUGE dress bags, shoes, make-up – it was all going on, the excitement, the nerves, the hairspray, I was so excited to finally get on the BIG stage, but so nervous too because I’ve only ever been on a big stage with a microphone, this time, it was just me, no words, just hundreds of people watching.
Opening dance – a routine with ALL 75 of us, dancing, moving and co-ordinating, all at the same time, NAILED IT.
Next – SWIMWEAR – yes, they still have the swimwear round, and again, this nearly put me off. I’m 50 this year and no longer a size 10, but that’s not what this was about because we are all different shapes and sizes, this round was about body confidence, being happy in your own skin, showing that beauty is not size zero. As I walked out and lined up with the other girls, I felt sick “why am I here” was the voice in my head. I had to turn my mindset around, I knew these nerves were adrenalin, so I changed my mindset from nerves to the excitement, then it was my turn to take the stage, walk the catwalk, stop, turn, stop, turn, and walk back IN A SWIMSUIT – this wasn’t the pool on holiday, NO, this was Leicester Arena in front of hundreds of strangers. I have NEVER felt so liberated in all my life. It really has turned my body confidence around, which in turn has turned my mindset around. Age is just a number, this body is just what I travel the earth in. It is those stories I tell myself that count.
There is a saying
“You will never speak to anyone more than you speak to yourself in your head. Be kind to yourself.”
Next was eveningwear and by this stage, I was floating on air (and hairspray, sequins, and lots of flesh) backstage was hilarious as we are all trying to change in a small area, there was no hiding, you just got on with it, helping pour each other into respective dresses, tying lace ribbons, doing up pearl buttons, fixing hairstyles. The chaos and carnage backstage were truly hilarious but then when we took our place to walk out, it was seamless as that swan gliding over the pond.
The ladies that took the crown – Jen Atkin – Miss GB and April Banbury Ms. GB were both deserving winners, beautiful ladies inside and out.
I was asked if I would enter again this year (finals are in September 2021), flattered but it takes commitment to truly be in the Pageant world, and it’s not space I have available in my life right now. So I follow and support from the sidelines.
The pageant world is not what I imagined it to be, it is soooooo much more, a wonderful world full of wonderful people.
Thank you for the experience Miss / Ms. Great Britain
And a personal thank you to Lisa Snowdon, who took a day out of her busy schedule to take me shopping, find the right outfits, and fill me with the confidence I needed.