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Miss and Mr Dorset Finalists

Pageants are enjoying somewhat of a revival in that last few years, shedding their ‘world peace’ and identikit blonde, beauty queen image. With many of the national and international pageants dropping swimwear in favour of fitness or athleticism rounds and focusing more on community service than body measurements, young women and indeed men, are looking to pageantry as a way to boost their confidence and develop their careers.

In fact my journey into pageantry started with a desire to champion a cause, rather than win a sparkly crown. I was struggling with the devastating effects of long-term infertility and specifically the shame that is caused by the silence surrounding struggling to conceive, despite the fact that infertility affects 1 in 6 couples, which equates to over 3 million people. I saw pageantry as a way to raise the profile of infertility conversation and support Fertility Network UK, turning my very negative circumstance into a positive.

I certainly did not expect to win, let alone a year later be awarded the Queen of Queens Enchanting World title, for the title holder since the pageant had commenced that had made the most impact to their causes and community. It is clear that brains and effort are now just as important as a winning smile and killer wardrobe. Which to modern women, is just how it should be! Pageant contestants in 2019 are expected to be well educated, compassionate, up to date with current affairs, charitable, innovative and extraordinary. They no longer sit silently at events in stylish gowns, there purely as decoration. Modern pageants require their winners to be advocates, spokespeople, athletes, role models, brand ambassadors and always intelligent.

Pageantry isn't all glamour, especially when you are a new mum!
Whilst the UK pageantry scene is growing, it is slow to reach the South Coast, so I was thrilled to see the rise of Miss/ Mr Dorset. I was also intrigued to see how this very traditional pageant system had moved with the times and represents modern contestants. I was invited to interview the finalists and find out from them directly what attracted them to pageantry and what they hope to achieve.

Q1. What or who inspired you to enter Miss/ Mr Dorset?

Maddie (M) - At an event I ran called ‘Get your Shirt Together’ for Dorset Mind, I was approached by Kelly (organiser of Miss/ Mr Dorset) and encouraged to consider entering Miss Dorset. Although I am not what might be described as a typical pageant contestant, my focus is on making a difference and Kelly really values that ethos.

Oli (O) - I see Mr Dorset as a once in a lifetime opportunity and it felt like the right time for me to enter.

Harley (H) - I love to give back to my community and really admire the work that We Do Ethical does, so it felt like a natural fit.

Q2. What do you hope to achieve during your time competing for Miss/ Mr Dorset?

M - I would absolutely love to grow ‘Get your Shirt Together’ as an annual event and continue to support Dorset Mind as much as possible.

O - I am focussed on starting conversation around Type 1 and 2 diabetes in young people, which is an age range that is often overlooked and commonly misdiagnosed.

H - I would really like to raise awareness of voluntary work for young people. I really believe that we have a great opportunity to make a difference, but volunteering opportunities for young people need to be more visible.

Q3. What is your cause/ platform?

M - Dorset Mind is my cause, for whom I have raised £1,200 so far, funding two mental health courses. I would love to do so much more to help them raise vital funds.

O - My cause is raising awareness of diabetes in young people and making sure that they are heard by medical professionals and society, as misdiagnosis can lead to many physical and mental health problems.

H - My cause is brain injuries and I currently volunteer at the Brain Injury Unit at Poole Hospital. It is a cause that is very close to my heart.

Q4. What would you say to people that call pageants outdated?

M - Modern pageants are not about looks anymore. They are about what you can achieve with your brain power and I find that really empowering.

O - They don’t just look at beauty, they look at ethical issues and making a change for a better future.

H - Pageants are no longer about beauty, but about supporting your causes and community.

Q5. If you won Miss/ Mr Dorset, what are your plans for your reign?

M - I would organise a beach clean extravaganza, as I am really passionate about ending beach litter.

O - I will raise awareness about the importance of meat-free days for positive environmental impact.

H - I hope to influence young people to take up volunteering roles and make a positive impact on their community and personal development.
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting some of the Miss/ Mr Dorset finalists and am looking forward to seeing who will take home the prestigious crowns, awarding them a place in the Miss/ Mr England finals. The Miss/ Mr Dorset finals will take place on Thursday 6th June at Bournemouth’s Hilton Hotel from 6:30pm.

Maria Parker - Harris (Queen of Queens Enchanting World), Maddie, Stephanie Wyatt - Miss Dorset 2018, Oli and Harley