Interview with Charlotte Dean – Miss Hastings International 2020
Firstly thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions about your pageant journey for my pageant lockdown blog it’s lovely getting to know fellow queens and more about the systems that they represent.
Can you introduce yourself ?
My name is Charlotte Dean. I am 23 years old and I am Miss Hastings International 2020 for the Miss International UK 2020 beauty pageant.
So what made you enter pageants?
I decided to enter pageants as a part of my healing process to regain my confidence and rebuild my self esteem after suffering from child abuse, neglect and bullying throughout school. As a result of this, I developed depression and anxiety about 11 years ago which gradually worsened over the years which made me lose my self confidence and self esteem.
Over the last 4 years, I have been healing and rebuilding myself back up and last year I managed to get into modelling which has increased my confidence but I felt I wanted to take a step further. I wanted to help other people who had been through similar circumstances and inspire them as well as raise awareness about mental health.
What made you decide to compete in Miss International UK?
It’s actually a bit of a strange story. I always knew pageants existed in the USA but I didn’t realise how big they were across the world. Last summer, I watching a review video on pageants in the US and, not long after, watched the Netflix series Insatiable which is a drama based around pageants. After watching a few pageant videos, I decided I wanted to do a pageant as it would allow me to get my message out there and I started looking to see if there was any pageants in the UK and came across the Pageant Girl UK and the Power Pageants.
Having never competed in a pageant before, I wanted to choose one that catered to everyone and the first one I found was Miss International UK. I actually put off applying for a couple of weeks because, at the time, I believed I wasn’t good enough and wouldn’t get accepted. I had done a Halloween photo shoot with my cousin a couple of days before applying and so was feeling good about myself and because of that feeling I decided to just go for it. A couple of weeks later I was selected to be a finalist!
What have pageants taught you so far?
Even though I haven’t competed yet, pageants have allowed me to find out more about myself and find that support system that I didn’t really have growing up. They have really helped to boost my confidence and self-esteem. If you had told me 4 years ago that I would be modelling and competing in a pageant in 2020, I would’ve laughed but Miss International UK has also helped me to realise my potential.
What is your pageant platform and why?
My pageant platform is all to do with mental health and specifically focusing on depression, anxiety and suicide prevention and getting more of a support network for people suffering with these issues while reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide. I personally have suffered with depression and anxiety for the last 11 years as a result of post-traumatic events such as child abuse, neglect, bullying and the loss of my nan in 2012. After my nan passed away due to a heart attack, my mental health spiralled out of control and I found myself self harming, not caring about myself and, in 2016, attempting suicide.
I started to find my inner strength at that point and managed to stop myself from ending my life and started to get help. I cut the toxic people out of my life and started the healing process. Because of my negative experiences, I found I was stronger than I thought and I wanted to use that strength to show others that they are not alone and help them get the help and support they need as early as possible.
What’s your dream title?
My dream title would have to be Miss International because I believe it is the title that best aligns to my values and beliefs. I also fully believe that we can achieve world peace and understanding about important issues around the world and we can only achieve that through awareness, empowering ourselves and others and by cheering and supporting all women across the world.
If you were to win Miss International UK, what would it mean to you?
If I were to win, it would mean everything to me. It would show me what I was capable of as well as showing myself that I am worth something . It would show others that have ever put me down, bullied me and said I couldn’t achieve my dreams, that I can do whatever I put my mind to. It would also mean that no matter what challenges I face, I will have the ability to pull through and allow those challenges to make me stronger and help shape me as a woman. Winning the crown would allow me to share my story and my platform worldwide and hopefully make a difference in the world.
What’s the best advice you have for fellow pageant queens?
The best advice I would give is to always be true to yourself; trust your gut, inner strength, fellow pageant contestants/sisters and follow your heart because these are the things and people who will always help you through any challenges you face. Your pageant sisters will always be there to support you and listen to you because they will understand exactly what you’re going through. Whether you want to share the memories or you want some advice, listen to them and cherish them because they will become friends for life.
What have you been doing in the run up to the final of Miss International UK?
I have been doing so many things in the run up to the pageant such as getting to know pageant sisters, getting all my outfits and accessories as well as doing some online coaching with Harriotte Lane and Empower Mental Training to make sure I’m pageant ready. I have also been joining weekly Skype calls with my pageant sisters as well as working on my platform and some campaigns.
As a part of my platform, I joined Mind mental health charity as an official campaigner last month. I did a 20km #walkformentalhealth and ended up beating my target by 6.8km as well as joining a Instagram live hosted by another Miss International UK finalist and spoke about my platform and my experience with mental health. I am also currently planning a charity prom for later on in the year with Miss Pageant Girl finalist Hannah Burgess for all the Year 11 students in our local area who may have had their prom cancelled due to COVID-19. I have also been arranging some photoshoots for later on in the year.
What’s your favourite appearance so far?
I actually have a couple of favourites. The first being Holly Pirrie’s Pageant Land Ball back in February. I got to experience the pageant community first hand and see the sisterhood that pageants create as well as being able to meet a couple of my pageant best friends. I also got the chance to meet Harriotte Lane, the current Miss International UK. The other would have to be joining my fellow Miss International UK sisters in our 2 online campaigns: our lockdown message post and our Tiktok Don’t Rush challenge.
How has the lockdown due to COVID-19 affected your pageant journey?
The lockdown has allowed me to focus on myself and do things that I wouldn’t normally be able to do such as meditation, relaxing and remind myself of who I am. Its given me time to focus on my preparation for Miss International UK and my assignments for my Mathematics and Physics degree, even though the pageant has been postponed to August and I haven’t been able to make as many appearances as I would have liked.
What makes a good pageant role model?
I believe a good pageant role model is someone that knows who she and what she wants to achieve. Its not just about the crown either. Its about being an inspiration to others and being able to make a difference in the world before, during and after their reign. Its about being able to stand up and shout to the world that, although I have been through these difficult challenges and hit rock bottom, I will use these experiences to shape me to be a stronger and better person as well as empowering others to be true to themselves.
What’s your favourite pageant round?
I would have to say evening wear! I just love all the elegant gowns everyone wears and seeing everyone in all their beauty. I also love being able to get glammed up because it’s not every day that you get to wear a floor length evening gown.
How do you deal with pageant nerves?
I am currently felling nervous about the interview stage but I have been trying to keep myself busy with pageant prep and exercise to keep the nerves away as well as trying different coping mechanisms. But if I do feel the nerves creeping back in to my mind, I remember how far I’ve come in not only my pageant journey but my personal journey and what an amazing opportunity I’ve been given.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions it’s been lovely reading your answers and learning more about your platform. I wish you all the best competing in your first ever pageant. Much love Charlotte Ms Diamond South Yorkshire 2020.