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A pageant is the glitz, it is the glamour, but anyone who says that a pageant is completely superficial has only experienced the pageants they see on TV and pageant fail videos on YouTube. A pageant is a journey for a girl to see the world from a new light and to be able to show who she is as an individual to the world. She’s not just the body walking down the runway or the smile on top of a long flowy dress, she’s also the helping hand volunteering in her community and the mind searching for a brighter tomorrow.
My journey has been an amazing one. I’ve been through ups and downs but I’m glad I held through it all. I have learned so much not only about who I am but also about how to present myself in a professional manner. The pageant has given me skills on and off stage that I will carry with me throughout my life.
I lived in Toronto for a week and visited many different places along with many other girls, all of whom were kind, caring, intelligent and proactive citizens. I was able to volunteer in my community speaking at elementary schools and conferences, at the Mid Summer’s Dream Festival in Gage Park, fundraising for a couple charities, performing at a coffee house supporting the LGBTQA community and at various other events. I was able to spread awareness of my platform on Youth Suicide where young people who have so much life and opportunity in front of them choose to take their lives. If you are a friend of anyone who is thinking of taking their lives, young or old, please do contact someone for help right away as suicidal thoughts and self-harm behaviours should not be taken lightly.
Tonight, I was given the honour of crowning some of the various girls at the Miss Teenage Ontario pageant and saw myself in them, exactly where I was a year ago. A tiny girl finding herself in a new world just waiting to blossom. Tonight, I felt that I had blossomed. Through this pageant experience I have been able to make new sisters, to learn to be poised, proper and also be playful, and have been able to show my confidence and plant my roots of confidence stronger in the ground as I keep reaching for the sky. I can’t wait for all these girls to be able to find themselves and to be able to move on to bigger and better. I hope that they are all able to raise awareness for their platforms and advance at nationals. Always shine your brightest girls!!!
I’d like to thank Michelle Weswaldi and her whole team of choreographers, organizers, chaperones and everyone else who made this pageant happen. I’d also love to thank her for encouraging girls to “Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful,” especially on behalf of girls like me who are 5 feet short and feel as if they have no place in the fashion world.
Lastly, I’d like to thank all my sponsors for all the help they have given me whether it had been financial or inkind sponsorships. Without them, I wouldn’t have even been able to dream of attending the Miss Teen Canada-World pageant. The team at Jeffery Bridal was amazing at putting together my amazing dress for nationals, mainly Merike who was the main hand in designing and creating the masterpiece which you can see in the background of this photo. It was a gorgeous gown inspired by the Indian Sari. Thank you so much Merike for making my dream dress come true. She is definitely a talented woman.
In addition to Merike, I’d like to thank all the other people who have helped me throughout my journey including Mr. Bhogal, owner of BSB Manufacturing, Wayne Martson from the NDP, Orchard Park Secondary School, Maria Pearson, Tip Top Auto Body and Repair Inc, and all my other friends and family. In addition to sponsors, I’d like to thank everyone who aided me in fundraising and donated items for a raffle such as Shoppers Drug Mart located at Queenston and Worsley, Curves located right next to the Shoppers Drug Mart, McDonald’s, Oracle Hair Studio & Spa located on Queenston between Fruitland and Dewitt, Tim Hortons and The Village restaurant located on King St. near Lake Avenue.
Lastly, I’d like to thank all of you that get to the end of my blogposts and read every last word. No amount of money or glitz could ever replace what you all have given me.
When I was younger, I didn’t really know what sexism or feminism was, but I can assure that I was a feminist.
I remember I was at the temple once as a little kid and I had just learned to whistle. I had been trying for days to whistle and I had finally gotten it. I was overjoyed and wanted to show everyone that I could whistle so I ran around showing everyone: mom, dad, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles. Then I got to one of my uncles, who we only called an uncle but he was really more of a family friend, and I showed him that I could whistle. I had this huge gleaming face just waiting for him to acknowledge that I had done it right. Instead, he told me that girls shouldn’t whistle.
Girls shouldn’t whistle.
I was flabbergasted! As a little girl who had grown up in a house where it had never been established that there was a social difference between boys and girls, I couldn’t understand why boys could whistle but I, a girl, couldn’t. What made me different from a boy that meant I couldn’t whistle. I asked my parents what my uncle meant and they just told me to forget about it and to move on. As you can tell, it’s not something I could easily shake off.
A few years later, in the summer my parents decided to put me in classes to learn how to read and write my own language. I remember copying the Punjabi alphabet off the board for myself and then having to make dotted lines for my brother so he could write out the alphabet. During break time a lot of the girls used to bring cards to school to pass the time. I was a shy girl so it took me a while to approach the other girls and ask them if I could play cards with them, but one day I finally mustered up enough courage to. We had just hit break time and I remember fiddling around with my pencil case a bit before I was going to go play cards with the other girls. One of the other girls was just taking the cards out of the package when the teacher stopped her.
Girls don’t play cards either.
At this point I was furious. I went home and told my parents what he had said hoping that they could tell me that it was just lies. My grandmother used to play cards as a girl. Infact, it was the one thing our family could really bond over when she came over to Canada from India. We could laugh and loosen up and for a good hour we could forget all the differences that we had and just focus on the game. This man was essentially telling me that my grandmother made a terrible girl and that she was wrong for playing cards just as we all were. My parents said his statement was ridiculous and told me to just shake it off and keep moving on.
What I thought was even more ridiculous than this man’s statement was the fact that people are still using statements like this. Even the word feminism has come to develop negative connotations associated with it. Whenever most people hear the word feminism or feminist they roll their eyes. Feminism isn’t just about women wanting to be equal, it’s about making both sexes equal.
Today, we live in a world where a blind eye is turned to sexism against women. There are so many countries out there where women are still objects and where fingers are pointed quicker at women then at men when it comes to blame. Women are forced to be these perfect beings who don’t have any faults, especially in cultures that believe in marrying their women off “pure”. There’s no problem with marrying women off “pure” but the social constructs that come alongside it are a bit much. Women in these cultures who are raped are looked down upon and victimized once again after they have just been through a tragedy.
A little more than a year ago in India, the Dehli rape case happened against 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandi. When this tragic event happened, I prayed to myself that people in India would speak up, that India would finally have a proper feminist movement to forever change the way that women were treated. It’s also hard to grasp the idea of sexism in India since they worship so many goddesses and respect these idols who are women. Women are taught to wear covering clothes, to never go out after dark and to always go with a friend, but what are men taught? I’m not saying to stop telling your daughters to stay at home after dark, but tell your sons as well. Teach your sons right from wrong so fingers aren’t pointed at your daughter. Take the precautions you want, I won’t stop you from protecting yourself, but don’t forget to teach your sons to protect themselves and to respect the women they come across.
I could go into a whole article about rape culture, female feticide, female infanticide, abortion or other feminist related issues but at the end of the article all I really want to say is that a woman owns her own body and the right to her life and she should be able to make decisions as to how it will be treated, as should a man. Feminism is about equality and as a young girl my blood broiled when I heard that I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. Before I am a girl, I am a human being with dreams, ambitions and the power to achieve anything if I give it my all. Please don’t take those chances away from someone because of their sex, gender, sexual orientation or race.
Don’t tell girls not to play cards because they might just play a great hand.
During my reign, I was given the honour of speaking at a conference held by Protecting Canadian Children. Protecting Canadian Children is a company that wishes to address the problems we have in our child welfare system. At the conference, I met many parents who had lost their children’s lives through the child welfare system. The individuals at this conference were definitely individuals who cared for the safety of children. Many of the stories that happened to these individuals could happen to anyone!
Just as there are good parents and bad parents there can be good foster parents and bad foster parents too.
They speak about how the child welfare system functions as a business and the rights parents should have over their children. Protecting Canadian Children is also full of parents still waiting for answers to why their children were taken, why they weren’t taken care of properly (having some cases result in death) and why some of them were treated with fraud to give up their children. If you’d like to learn more about Protecting Canadian Children visit their website by clicking this link.
When I first joined the Miss Teen Canada-World pageant, I did it to be able to make a bigger difference in my community. I thought that a title and a crown made people take you more seriously and that it made it easier for you to go out there and be able to make a difference. Through this title I learned that people don’t take you any more seriously with a crown and sash, atleast not where I’m from, and that if you really want to achieve something you have to go for it.
It’s funny how I’d always use this metaphor but just realized the depth of its meaning. I never needed a pageant to go out and help others, all I needed was my own two feet and the head upon my neck.
With all this, I’m not saying I regretted my pageant experience. It was definitely an experience I learned a lot from and one I will not soon forget. It helped me grow as a person and I will cherish it for the rest of my life. I met 64 other amazing girls that were all intelligent, kind and talented.
A lovely girl named Jill Martin won the title of Miss Teen Canada-World 2013. She is definitely a girl worthy of the title. Throughout the week I was able to speak to Jill and she is a very kind hearted, well-spoken individual and she’s a good foot taller than me at 6′ 0!
To everyone out there, if there is one thing I want you to be able to learn from my experience it’s that you can achieve anything you want as long as your reach for your goals. No one is going to hand you your hopes and dreams all tied up with a bow, no matter how much you want it to happen. If you really want something, I encourage you to find a way to get it and I will be there with you every step of the way. I will support you and encourage you on your journey, just as you all did for me.
Miss Teen Hamilton Region-World 2013
Hope all of you are having a splendid summer so far! My pageant week so far has been full of adventure, excitement and chaos. It’s had its ups and downs but they have all been worth the experience. Meeting all 64 other contestants is beyond amazing as my unimpressive memory and I try our hardest to remember all their names. At the end of the day though, it’s less about remembering the girl’s names and more about remembering who they are. All the girls are intelligent, talented and glow with the drive to give this competition their all.
The week began with the welcome party! We met many of the official sponsors of Miss Teen Canada-World such as Schwarzkopf, the makers of Got2b, who were advertising their line of osis+, Pretty Sweet who had amazing cupcakes and Hi-Tec who gave each of the MTC-W girls free shoes! Free the Children was also there as the charity MTC-W donates to. Overall, it was an amazing welcome and the sponsors had so much to offer. The Pretty Sweet cupcakes were actually pretty sweet and the icing was completely unique from anything I have ever tasted before! Definitely something everyone needs to experience. They also gave us cookies to write our names on in edible marker!
On Sunday, all the girls had to complete their photoshoots, video interviews and interviews with the judges. It was a hectic day. All the girls had to first get makeup and hair done which, due to some mishaps, took almost ten hours! Thank you so much to all the hair and makeup artists who came out to help us and to the girls who got out their own curling irons and makeup to help all the girls who were still waiting. Without you all, the day wouldn’t have happened as it did.
This morning, we had to be out the door at 5am to be on Breakfast Television. Talk about early, especially with such a chaotic day the night before! It was an amazing day though. It began with Breakfast Television and lead to a visit to the CN Tower, a scavenger hunt at the Distillery District, a shopping spree at Costa Blanca – a sponsor for Miss Teen Canada-World. The Distillery District is absolutely gorgeous. I definitely want to visit again someday. We ended the day by visiting Much Music and being on the show!
On Tuesday, all the girls headed out to Union Fit to workout with some yoga and then head back to the hotel for a long day of rehearsals. The days seemed to grow long but with every moment growing longer, there was more time to create memories that will last a lifetime.
Wednesday was a very busy day again, starting at 6:30 sharp! We were standing outside our doors ready to head off on our adventures at the Toronto Zoo in our Hi-Tec shoes! We got to see the pandas and both were such majestic creatures. The exhibit was wonderful and explained a lot about pandas and the pens themselves as well. After this, we headed back to the hotel for some more rehearsing and then visited Medieval Times at Toronto Castle. The show was very intruiging and had jousts and fights between multiple knights. It was an interesting show with delicious food and I was lucky enough to meet the queen of the tournament!
So as my pageant week is half over, we come to the part of the pageant week I have patiently been waiting for: the pageant! Thursday night is preliminaries where scores will be taken to determine top 20. The day after is Talent Night where I’ll be singing as my talent. I’ve had a cough for a while, so let’s hope I can make it through the whole song! Finally, on Saturday night the new Miss Teen Canada-World will be crowned. Every single girl in the competition has a kind heart and true intentions. I know that they will all make the most of it and try to make a difference in their country. Good luck to all my fellow pageant girls. This week has been a pleasure so far and meeting all these wonderful girls has made all of it even better.
Miss Teen Hamilton Region-World 2013