We hear about American beauty pageants very often, from Miss USA to Miss Teen USA. What about Canada? Where are our beauty pageants? There is a lot of confusion, and a lot of incorrect information regarding Canadian pageants, so I’m here to clear things up for you a bit 🙂

I’ve seen beauty pageants on television ever since I was little, and the first thing I could think of was how amazing it would be to participate in one. I looked up to these confident and well-rounded women who were beautiful inside and out. Little did I know that my chance on the stage would come sooner than I thought. I first found out about Miss Teenage Canada from a friend who competed last year, but I was really drawn in when the facebook page caught my attention one day. I applied soon after. The more I learned about Miss Teen Canada, the more I was determined to achieve the title.

Pageant? Title? Still confused? Read on!

Miss Teen Canada 1969, Jewel McAvany

Back in the day, the original Miss Teen Canada Pageant was called ‘Miss Teenage Canada’ from 1969 to 1971, re-named to ‘Miss Teen Canada’ in 1972. Televised by CTV, and held in Toronto, Ontario, the original Miss Teen Canada Pageant was a tradition that was watched and loved by the nation, seeing these young girls aged 14-17, show their beauty, grace and poise on stage. Over the years however, Canadian pageants have changed; now there is not only one ‘Miss Teenage Canada.’ Confusing? Not too hard to understand as long as you know that Canada’s largest and most recognized teen pageant is owned by MTC-W Inc., and produced by Michelle Weswaldi (who was actually Miss Teen Canada-World 1996! 🙂 )

Siera Bearchell and Lauren Howe on their winning day!

Miss Teenage Canada, formally known as Miss Teen-Canada World, began in 2008, where Ontario-native Katie Starke took home the first crown! Since then, Miss Teenage Canada has been growing, finding Canada’s brightest and best teens, including Miss Teenage Canada 2009, Siera Bearchell, and Miss Teenage Canada 2011, Lauren Howe, both of who later competed at the Miss Universe Canada pageant! With their experience and training during their time at Miss Teenage Canada, they came out on top, winning 1st and 2nd runner up!

Why is Miss Teenage Canada the largest you ask? Let’s begin with the fact that it’s the only pageant to host smaller provincial pageants, in which the winners from each province all come together in Toronto, usually with over 70 delegates, to compete for the final title of Miss Teenage Canada!

This years hosts, Cynthia Loewen and Luke Bilyk

The crown is given to the all-around Canadian girl- someone with inner and outer beauty, dedication, goals, community service and much more. Miss Teenage Canada has a wide variety of celebrity judges to choose the winner; past judges include Fight2BeFit Owner & Bikini Model Belinda Kiriakou, Degrassi’s Sarah Fisher and Toronto-based style blogger Christina Cravero, to name a few. Even the hosts will leave you starstruck! For example, this year the hosts are Degrassi’s Luke Bilyk and former MTC Alumni, Cynthia Loewen.

Miss Teenage Canada 2012, Megha Sandhu, in Kenya, Africa with Me To We

In addition, the prizes for the winner are amazing! Whoever receives the title of Miss Teenage Canada wins over $25,000 in cash, prizes and scholarships! The prize that caught my eye the most was the Me To We trip to Kenya; I have always dreamed of volunteering overseas, especially with a remarkable organization like Free The Children. Each delegate in Miss Teenage Canada is actually required to fundraise for Free The Children and it’s amazing that there’s an opportunity given to volunteer with them in Kenya. Being Miss Teenage Canada definitely has its perks, but just by competing, the delegates will appear in all sorts of media, from Breakfast Television to Much Music! Miss Teenage Canada definitely has the most media exposure!

Some of the amazing events and people the past Miss Teen Canada title holders got to experience and meet

I know of other teen pageants, but I believe  Miss Teenage Canada is the perfect one for me personally. The main reason is because of their motto: “Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful.” I think confidence is one of the most important attributes a person, especially young woman, can have. To be confident in our own skin and embrace our quirks and imperfections is hard to do in today’s society, where we are told what ‘beautiful’ should be or look like. Miss Teenage Canada promotes positive attitudes, self-respect and self-motivation, and offers teenage girls a chance to show who they really are, showing that beauty comes in many different forms. That is why contestants are judged on not only outer beauty, but on poise, ambition, leadership, and confidence amongst others. I am very grateful to be working alongside a company who holds the same values as I do; this allows me let go of my fears of not being ‘good enough’ and lets me compete as I am, embracing every part of me and all that I have to offer.

As someone who has suffered with low self-esteem for a very long time, Miss Teenage Canada has given me the chance to break out of my shell and find a part of me that I didn’t know was hidden. Since I have competed in the provincial pageant, I have seen an incredible increase in my self-confidence and self-motivation. By looking back on all my accomplishments, I have realized that I am perfect as I am; there is no need to compare myself to anyone around me.

Making an appearance at the York Region 2014 Community Cup

Some of my accomplishments have actually happened within the last couple of months; Miss Teenage Canada has given me the chance to be more involved in my local and global community. A sense of community is something I hold very close to my heart, and am so happy I have connected so much with my community by volunteering and helping out with various events such as the York Region Community Cup, and fundraisers such as ones for the Breast Cancer Society and Kids Help Phone.

Me during my Free The Children Fundraiser Gala

Due to Miss Teenage Canada, I even took a larger step with my community service, and hosted independent fundraisers, such as a raffle for Cardiac Kids and a gala night for Free The Children. With my title, I was also honoured as a guest during many events, where I even got to give speeches, which further helped my confidence. These opportunities only came about because of Miss Teenage Canada and I couldn’t be more grateful for what I have experienced so far.

Though Miss Teenage Canada is a wonderful learning experience, where contestants get to grow and challenge themselves in many different areas, as well as make amazing friends along the journey, it is so much more to me. It is a chance for me to realize my full potential, and offer what I can to the world. Being Miss Teenage Canada 2014 means I will have a greater impact on anything I choose to do. My voice will be heard and my actions will be noticed. I will be able to volunteer more, meet new people, and gain memories and knowledge that no other experience will offer me. One of my goals in life is to inspire people, and with this title, I can make a positive impact in many different ways.

Wearing purple for National Eating Disorder Awareness Day 2014

Having this title allows me to further pursue my passion towards mental health awareness. Using my past experiences with mental health issues, and the knowledge I have gained over the years, I know I can make a difference. I will take my platform of eating disorder awareness on a larger scale, and be the voice for all of those who have recovered, myself included, while being an advocate for those who are still suffering. If awarded the title of Miss Teenage Canada 2014, I will strive to be a positive role model for younger girls who are being impacted by the media’s stereotypical “perfect” portrayal of females. I will embody health and happiness, and promote active and healthy living, showing everyone, especially young girls and teenagers, that the key to life is balance.

Despite the difficulties, I graduated with honours

Regardless of all the personal barriers I went through during my life, especially my teenage years, I managed to be in the top of my class every year, while being actively involved in my school and community, and making a positive contribution in all social and academic aspects. I have overcome these barriers with drive and ambition, keeping my future goals in mind. I don’t let anything- no person nor any mental illness- stop me from moving forward. This is why I believe I would make the perfect Miss Teenage Canada 2014; I have dealt with experiences many teenagers can relate to, I have attributes both teenagers and adults can respect, and I have all the qualities of a leader and a role model.

It is clear to see that pageants are so much deeper, and so much more important, than what most people think they are. I take on any task whole-heartedly, and I hope to soon follow in Katie Starke’s and Lauren Howe’s footsteps by being another Ontario-native to win the title of Miss Teenage Canada!

Until next time,

xoxo, Odeta

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