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  • Writer's picturecharlotte lister

Interview with Hannah Golding – YMI Spokesmodel

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 pageant queens and more about the systems that they represent.

Photo by Charlotte Clemi

So you have been competing in pageants for quite sometime can you tell us about your pageant journey?

A long time, a whole decade! I started my pageant journey to gain a little more confidence after coming out of a really bad relationship. I didn’t think I would still be doing them ten years later! I loved my first pageant which was competing in Miss Wiltshire where I placed first runner up, in a TKMax slinky dress that cost £19 and no eyebrows! From then, I got the famous pageant bug and competed in a variety of different pageants! I came back the next year to win Miss Swindon, and got to compete in the Semi Finals, which was my first big experience of competing! I also got to compete in Paris twice, once with yourself!

Me and Hannah in Paris

Being called Ariel (as I had red hair back then) in Disney was the dream! I placed 7th overall in 2016 and fell in love with YEMI. I think I’ve made history as the first pregnant pageant queen to win an European title, and went to America 8 weeks after a C Section. I didn’t stop fighting and eventually have the crown of my dreams on my head right now!

Hannah and Pea

What have you learnt from competing in pageants ?

I have learnt that I do have an inner strength inside of me, which pageants have made stronger. I don’t hide the fact that I have suffered with my mental health, and my life is an eastenders plot that I’ve survived with bullying, child sexual abuse and domestic abuse just a few things I’ve lived and survived! Pageants literally gave me that lifeline!

What’s been your favourite appearance so far ?

I’ve been so lucky to attend so many events and appearances over the years but I think the ones that means the most to me would be my very first Sparkles and Rhinestones Confidence Workshop. We had confidence exercises, walk training as well as an empowering photo shoot where the girls wore their outfit of Confidence. To have girls travel from all over the U.K. to attend and support, it really touched my heart!

What made you compete in the YMI and YEMI System ?

I competed in the first ever YEMI finals in Cardiff in 2016, and I was a very late entry, like literally a week before! I’ve always wanted to compete in America, that was the big pageant dream and Jeyanne who is the Director is such an incredible human being and I knew her from the pageant circuit so I was like ok, let’s try it! I didn’t win, but placed third overall and it was always in the back of my mind to compete the next year but of course I had entered another pageant as soon as I could because I couldn’t keep off the stage! My best friend Georgia kept tagging me in the statuses and Jeyanne was like girl you know you want to! But I had a little secret that I was with child, a secret to me as I didn’t find out until I was three months gone! She assured me that would be fine, that if I did win I could postpone my trip, they would put any extra measures in so I was like ok, two months to what could be my last pageant. And the rest is history!

Last year you were crowned YMI Spokesmodel how did you feel when you won as I know it was the second time you competed Internationally at the YMI & YEMI System ?

Hannah’s crowning moment

The first time I competed I was so physically and mental drained after having Penelope, I look back and I’m not sure how I competed in an international pageant whilst breastfeeding every two odd hours and no sleep but I did! After I placed second runner up, I was gutted I am not going to lie but everything happens for a reason. I still had the European title and I was going to make the most of it! Lucky we could apply to be Queen of Queens and get to come back and I won, after submitting a very extra PowerPoint presentation as well as my community hours. This time there were two finals of YAMI and YMI. I placed second runner up again in YAMI, then placed first runner up in YMI and watching my sister queens get their crowns. I was defeated but so happy. The last crown of the day was the YMI Spokesmodel which was the highest scorer for YMI and my name was called! I was shocked, happy, still emotional from the day and lack of sleep, being pushed on stage by my pageant sisters, it was crazy! I cried so much which you can see from the photos but it’s the second best moment of my life!

What’s your pageant platform and why ?

My platform is Mental Health and Body Confidence. 1 in 4 UK adults have suffered with a mental health condition every year, and 1 in 3 have suffered anxiety or depression because of their body image. I use my title to share my experiences with Mental Health, becoming a Time to Change Ambassador to share more experiences with mor knowledge. I hold body confidence sessions with Sparkles and Rhinestones, and because I am a plus size queen I really use my crown to show girls that queens come in all different shapes and sizes! This year I started my own podcast called Queen Chats which is an honest approach to mental health from the world of pageantry, showing everyone that pageant queens are just like everyone else, and to make that talk of mental health normal. I think we’ve hit around 30 interviews, not all on fb, which is more than I thought would happen!

Due to your pageant experience you created Sparkles and Rhinestones can you tell us why and more about this ?

I started S&R in 2017 after stepping off the Galaxy stage and thinking ok the pageant heels may be hanging up, but I still wanted to be a part of the world. There were so many American sites that showcased pageantry but never really showed much from the U.K. and I saw that gap where I could share pageant stories and highlight the amazing things us pageant girls do! Of course I didn’t hang the heels up, thank goodness!! I didn’t get the drive to really do too much with it until I won Young European International Ms and wanted something I could do when the pregnancy pains were too much, I was writing blogs in the hospital! It’s grown so much where we now do coaching, video interviews and have two books and hold training days! So much growth!

Now your Pageant Manuel is a must have for any pageant girl what made you decide to create this ?

I got my manual a couple of months ago and I love it !

When I started S&R I wanted it to be a place where new pageant girls could learn more information, pick up tips and be steered onto the right path without having to make too many mistakes. When I first competed in 2010 there were no coaches or cool you tube videos, you learnt through experience! I have so many American pageant books that give some great information but they don’t relate too much to U.K. Pageantry so I had a little handbook and asked Pageant land if they would like a more in depth version, which was where The Pageant Manual was born! It’s the first of its kind where it would answer all the questions a new pageant girl would have! We now have the eBook “Adding That Extra Sparkle” which is a coaching book which works great alongside the manual, or just by itself!

Your reign has been extended due to COVID19 do you know yet when your handover will now happen ?

Of course I’m gutted but also I’ve been putting off gemming my national wear so it gives me a little more time! It should now be happening in August, it’s just whether we can fly from the U.K. to the US by then as America have relaxed their lockdown rules so the final will be going ahead! It’s always nice to have the crown that little longer but when we are still in lockdown, it just gets worn around the house!

A lot of pageants have been cancelled and postponed do you think that some pageants will cease ?

I think some pageants are going to struggle, not so much ceasing unless it’s the director who has suffered in their day time job with their income. Pageants rely a lot on other contestants after they have competed, you know that 50 per cent will come back for the next year but then the rest filter off to different systems and with all these finals being moved and cancelled, it does make it harder to get contestants. Also it’s a huge ask for some finalists to wait two years before getting on stage, so it creates the question, how badly do you want this crown, or do you just want a crown.

What makes a good pageant role model ?

I feel a good pageant rolemodel is someone who works their crown to the bone! Get that dirty sash (which you should clean 😂). There is nothing worst than seeing a queen win and do nothing with the crown, as that shows to others that you don’t have to really do anything to be a pageant queen! My favourite thing is seeing winners still carry on, even after internationals and wear their crowns with pride because they worked hard to get that privilege! Overall they should be friendly, approachable and relatable, be honest and learn from their mistakes.

What’s your favourite pageant round?

I love being extra and sassy in fashion, then being classy in evening wear but for me its interview or onstage questions! It’s the first chance they get to see you and you can show them all the amazing things you ha e done, I’m proud of the hard work I put in before the finals and although my outfits were just as hard, I want the judges to get the full picture of me before judging!

You also provide interview coaching to fellow queens. What made you decide to do this ?

I’ve been coaching since around 2015 for local pageant queens in Wiltshire, as well as even training some glitz kids! After I held my first confidence session where we went over training techniques, I got a lot of great feedback and was like ok, maybe I should branch out. I always make sure I keep my prices incredibly low, not because I think I’m worth that much, but because pageants are so expensive but these skills are needed so it’s my little give back to the pageant community. I started properly around September 2019 and since then I’ve had Queens win their dream title, place in the top five or runner up, and a few best in interview awards! For me though, it’s seeing the development and change in confidence!

After your reign is over are you planning on competing again ?

I am applying for YMI Lifetime Queen as it should be my last trip to Texas for a while so I want to represent the system that made me truly feel like home. COVID has changed a lot of my competing plans but I know I will never hang up my heels so watch this space! But YMI Lifetime Queen would be the icing on the cake of an incredible year.

What’s the best advice you can give to fellow pageant queens ?

Buy my book haha. Honestly though it’s doing your research, you are spending your hard earned money into this expensive hobbie, you want to make sure that you are putting it in the right place! Research what makes that pageant the best suit for you, what is a good pageant brand, pageant coach, pageant shoes, just make sure you dig a little! Also don’t ever overpluck your eyebrows!

How do you deal with pageant nerves ?

Deep breathes and talking to myself, I usually repeat the lines of you can do this, you sassy, you can snatch that crown! Pageant nerves are normal, everyone gets them! It’s how you channel it, turn it into Adrenaline!! As long as you know you have done the best, which is where the pageant prep comes in!

Social Media Links

Facebook – Sparkles and Rhinestones

Facebook – Hannah Golding Beauty Queen

Instagram – @sparklesandrhinestonesuk

Instagram – @ymispokesmodel

Thank you for being part of my project it’s been lovely interviewing you. You have so much experience to share and I love your manual ! I also got the E Book which is only £6 with £1 going to charity ! I wish you all the best with your application for YMI Lifetime Queen. Much Love Charlotte, Ms Diamond South Yorkshire 2020.

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