When former Miss Teen Lincolnshire Danielle Terry entered the world of pageantry, it’s fair to say that she did so with the same apprehensions that any of us would, unnerved by the stigmatized shadow that shows like Toddlers and Tiaras cast over the cat walk.
Most expect self-love to be the cynical reason for applying, rather than a beautiful consequence. It’s a lot easier to hate someone for loving themselves than it is to encourage it, and other than masking disguised jealousy, I’ll never understand why.
I went to secondary school with Danielle, and for someone who struggled greatly with self-image, I’d never have predicted pageantry as being the next stage in her life.
“They are not just looking for pretty girls. It’s about your confidence and grace. Nothing is about the face. Even when I had my makeup on, I still made sure I looked like me.”
The more she refuted the term ‘beauty’ pageant, the more intrigued I became. However, after reading their ethos, Miss Teen Great Britain was far different to what I’d expected.
With 50% of the overall score reliant on a successful interview, it was clear that character was important. This is far from the “How would you save the world?” rehearsed answers that judges can sob over. No, this is a real character exploration. Winning is something they earn through effort and experience, not through a spray tan and flippers.
Expanding on such experiences, she explained the plethora of charity work that the girls get involved in prior to the final. Last years contestants raised over £40,000 for Together For Short Lives.
“I had such an amazing year in the build up to the pageant. It’s not just about the actual day, it’s about representing your local area and getting involved. I wanted to do something valuable, and my platform allowed me to do this.”
Regardless of our cynicism, the face of pageantry has evolved. Greeted with her elegant posture and glamorous hair and makeup, it was initially difficult to look past the stigma, but as we spoke, I felt her confidence and her genuine desire to advance herself exude through her smile.
“I never entered with the expectation of getting a crown. I wanted to make new friends and experiences, and that’s what I did.”
For these girls, winning is now simply a bonus.