My journey with Miss BC actually began in 2013. The first time I entered the pageant, it was as a way to gain confidence. I never realized it would impact my life as much as it did – and right now, I’m talking about this first year, when I didn’t win a title. I didn’t enter the pageant for a title (then or now), but like Darren, our producer, always says, you need to find something else that you can take from the experience.
I definitely did. It was through the workshops and interactions at Miss BC that I found my voice, my purpose and my passion: to end the silence and stigma about mental health, focusing on eating disorders.
The first part of the pageant every year is the Heart and Soul circle, where we share with the other contestants something about ourselves. Honestly, I think it is the first step towards the tight group that we become over the pageant weekend.
At any rate, it was in the Heart and Soul circle on that very first day, surrounded by strangers who would become friends, that I said out loud for the first time that I had suffered from an eating disorder. I was afraid – ashamed, I think – to share this, but after hearing everyone else’s inspiring stories I had the confidence to share mine.
I never expected that this one brave moment would lead my heart in the direction it was meant to go. My courage that day inspired someone else to not only speak out herself but also to seek help.
With all these strong emotions and a new outlook on life running through me, I knew then that I was not destined for a crown. Not then. I wasn’t ready to make the impact I knew I was destined to make.
Fast forward a few years later, and I had created the “Look Beyond The Mirror” campaign. My voice was finally ready to be heard. I decided to participate again at Miss BC, not with the selfish wish to win but instead for the pure opportunity it would provide for my platform to be heard and to make a difference. I spoke about wanting to go into schools to help youth stop focusing on their image in the mirror but rather on how they each create their image within the community.
I want youth to have the tools they need to harness their negative energy and put it into something positive. For me, submerging myself in charity work was played a large part in ending my eating disorder. I was so focused on helping others that eventually I stopped tracking my calories and looking at myself in the mirror – I didn’t have time anymore!
This year, the moment that stands out the most for me is when I was called to respond to an on-stage interview question. There was such a feeling of accomplishment at that point; whatever happened after this point, I knew I had made an impact. To my surprise and delight, Darren asked me about my platform. That was the moment I won.
Oh, not the title – I did (obviously) win that, but for me, the true success was in achieving my sole goal in participating in Miss BC 2016. I was given the opportunity to share the “Look Beyond The Mirror” campaign with not just my fellow contestants and the volunteers at the pageant, not just those who came to watch us (a full house!), but also the entire TV audience watching us on Shaw later in the summer.
Then it happened: I was crowned Miss Greater Vancouver 2016, a moment I will cherish forever. I have already been in talks with my local school district about integrating my campaign into the classrooms, and I look forward to connecting with other school districts in the Lower Mainland.
The future is bright for mental health awareness, and I couldn’t be more excited. But I wouldn’t be where and who I am without my Miss BC family! Thank you all so much!
Please visit my Facebook page to stay up to date on my 2016-2017 reign and the “Look Beyond The Mirror” campaign!