Well, after a whirlwind ride from the day I was crowned Mrs Australia International for 2014… the day has finally come! I’m off to the United States to vie for the coveted Mrs International crown! I am so nervous and excited at the same time haha. Coffee please…
I used to be one of those girls who thought pageants, modelling and all that followed must be the easiest thing to do in the world. They all used to just float on air on stage, in amazing gowns with perfect set hair & makeup… Turns out making it all look amazing and flawless comes with the territory, and I’ve been eating my own words the past seven months of carrying the title. It’s been one hell of a ride; blood, sweat, sore feet, late nights and (if I’m being completely honest) more than a few tears and ‘ready to quit’ moments. It’s true when they say it’s never easy, but it’s sure been worth it! Just in that moment when you think you’re going to throw in the towel, you stop and think why you started in the first place. As I get ready to board my flight to Florida I thought it would be good to have a quick look back at the journey that led me here…
Classic Australian countryside!
I guess you could say that it all started with my Aunty Cheryl and her long and debilitating battle with ovarian cancer. Whilst she unfortunately lost that battle last year, it ignited in me a desire to do a bit more with my life, and because of her I started working with Ovarian Cancer Australia to raise funds and awareness of this heartbreaking disease. It gave me a real sense of purpose to work with such a worthwhile charity and I found a positive outlet for my energy and motivation. I love having Ovarian Cancer Australia as part of my family; being one of their National Community Ambassadors the past couple of years has been one of my greatest pleasures.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve found myself reflecting on my younger self more and more. When the opportunity arose to be a part of the Mrs International program I grasped it with both hands, and very quickly knew what I wanted my platform to be. Whilst I was enjoying my work with Ovarian Cancer Australia I felt that I could use the stage provided by the Mrs International program to say the things that I wished someone had said to me when I was 15-year’s old. And so CHIC NATION was born, and my work with the Touch of Goodness Foundation has flourished in the community.
Pageant paperwork: my official ‘Mrs Australia International 2014′ Platform Page
People have asked me if I think it’s fair that a model is talking about body confidence. After all, I’m always perfect right? The truth of the matter is that as an industry insider I saw an opportunity to shine a light on the tricks, edits and manipulations that are used to create the final images. As I’ve said countless times during this campaign, you don’t see me when I’ve just woken up.
So now I’m at the end of one road and the start of another. These last few weeks have been bedlam and I will be leaving for the US with a huge to-do list that I have no chance of ever completing. I have friends and family I haven’t spoken to anywhere near as often as I would have liked the last few weeks (sorry if you’re on that list), I can’t see the floor of my office and I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since I can’t remember when. It’s definitely been worth it though
One of the best pieces of pageant advice I have received, thanks to Peter Sereno (Australian Pageant Royalty) of Dear Pageant Girl, is: everyone has the potential to win though there can only be one winner. You never enter a competition in the hopes of coming last, though I do have the attitude that win, lose or draw at the Mrs International final I will be returning home extreamly happy and proud of what I have achieved. There are so many hard working, determined and passionate women that I am competing with - ALL worthy of taking home the title to support their own amazing charity journeys, that just being there I feel makes us winners in itself! It’s one of the things I absolutely adore about the Mrs International system, being platform/charity based. You just know that whoever does take the crown will be immensely deserving and I will be so proud of my fellow Sisters of the Sash regardless of the outcome!
I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve personally grown during this journey. Some of my memorable favourites:
- My crowning! Never in a million years did I ever imagine winning an Australian title, let alone competing internationally, and yet here I stand. I am blessed to have the opportunity and have loved working alongside the Touch of Goodness Foundation
- That night I found myself on stage in front of 200 complete strangers at a sexual assault fundraiser declaring that I was a fellow survivor. All it took was an impromptu speech by my now dear friend Tito Lavashe saying that he’d been “following the journey of a special lady the past 12 months.” After 16 years it was time and I will love and cherish that moment forever, because that’s the day I started to really heal. Just like that *clicking fingers* I never needed to bury it, I just had to let it go.
- My published work; with industry advice, sharing life experiences and useful resources for living a happy & healthy life; and press has reached more than 8 million teens across 22 countries - wow!! With 60% readership being American - which is fantastic as the rates of adolescent self harm and eating disorders is much high per capita in the US than any other country. Really connecting with people has been a buzz; opening the lines of communication, talking body confidence issues and the way that images are manipulated and staged to always give the appearance of perfection. By actually showing a side of myself that I’ve not really let a lot people in on; that even having braces, pimples and frizzy hair (like I did), and fighting demons you wish would go away. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
- Travelling abroad - a true Mrs International trait! Having the opportunity to network and build international relations has been a truly amazing experience. I have reached out and travelled to New Zealand and France for charity endeavours as Mrs Australia, both of which have been highly successful with plans in play for future efforts. Nothing teaches hope, kindness, courage and compassion quite like helping others! David and Pascal, thank you for all your help in making this happen!
- Actually waking up at 5am for training each morning during the week…and loving it! For someone genetically predisposed to loving a sleep in and adult allergic reactions to cardio (mostly just avoiding it), especially during winter, Blake & Luke have really turned me around. For the better! The past 10 weeks I have been physically and mentally pushed out of my comfort zone and it’s yielded some unexpected results. Mostly the 8min off my run time and heavier weights! I’m happy, fit, healthy and alive. Did I mentioned I was happy?
- Making new friends that bring a new energy to your soul. And in a matter of hours I’ll be so happy to be aquatinted with 80 more gorgeous, fiercely independent women from across the world!
And that’s where having the right kind of supportive and encouraging people around makes all the difference. I am a product of their positive vibes too. I’m loving every second of it and, whilst I might take some time out when I get back (and do nothing, which I have grown to have no idea what that means haha) I’ll be back with a vengeance. With or without the crown I know the work I have started and pursued will continue on to bigger and better things, and it’ll be great to have you all along for the ride! Wish me luck
A very big warm and fuzzy thank you to Juliet, Blake, Peter, Kevin, Ryan and David - I could not have made it this far without you! Mary, Drew and Thomas and Suzy, I am beyond excited to work with you the next couple of weeks. Here’s to new adventures!
Your Mrs Australia
P.S. Don’t ever forget where you came from.