This week we spoke to an amazing Queen, the current Pure United Kingdom National Ms, Tracie Steeley to find out what pageants mean to her and what they bring to her life.
How many times did you compete for your title?
This was my first time competing for the national title.
What does your system stand for and why is this important to you?
The attraction of Pure for me was two fold. Firstly Pure is a family system - with finalists ranging from babies right up to our pride of Pure queen Megan at 70 it stands for inclusivity and the idea that everyone and anyone can be involved in pageants and be part of the family. I liked seeing in the case of Ms Wales Rebecca and Tot Scarla-rae that they reigned alongside each other. As a mum of 4 it was important to me to be part of a system that understood family commitments and fostered a community feel where everyone was welcomed. secondly I was drawn to Pure for its #betheimpact ethos. My entire pageant journey grew from my wish to make a difference in the world and I loved that Pure encourages its finalists and Royalty to make a positive impact on their families, their communities and the wider world too.
Can you tell me a bit about your chosen platform?
My chosen platform is Breast Cancer awareness, especially in the under40's. This is a mission that is so important to me as I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductual Carcinoma - breast cancer, at the age of 34. It completely blindsided me, I didn't know that younger people were at risk of breast cancer and it sounds crazy in hindsight but I never thought it would happen to me. 1 in 7 women and 400 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK every year which is a crazy amount of people. What we do know about breast cancer is that the earlier a cancer is diagnosed the less chance it has to spread, meaning, in most cases, more successful and less invasive treatment. Early diagnosis is our best form of defence and the only way we are going to achieve that is for people to start self checking from their teens and get to know their body well. I am proud to be working with cancer charity Coppafeel and their Boobette program to go out and tell my story to schools, colleges and businesses to try to inspire people into getting into the self checking habit.
What do Beauty Pageants mean to you and how would you define them?
Beauty pageants are far more than about physical beauty. I love that they celebrate the whole person - not just appearance but charity work, ambition, commitment, community and the like. I love that in pageantry I can show my own daughters role models such as doctors, lawyers, mothers, olympic medalists - people from all walks of life with many different stories to tell and add to the rich tapestry of UK pageantry.
When did you enter your first beauty pageant and why?
I entered my first pageant back in 2016/17 - I had not long finished my breast cancer treatment and found out that it hadn't been successful and that I still had residual cancer. I felt like I needed to make more people aware of the risks of breast cancer and how there isnt a age or gender discrimination when it comes to cancer. I remember seeing some pageant girls come up on instagram in the middle of the night during some chemo induced insomnia and it hit me that this was a huge community of people - many under the age of 40 who probably had no idea the importance of self checking. I found myself wondering if I could really put myself out there after treatment - having lost my hair, scarred and removed from a bilateral mastectomy to prove that pageants were about more than just looking pretty and getting my voice heard.
What is something important you would tell a newcomer to Beauty Pageants?
I would tell them to work hard, do your research and stay true to yourself. Not every pageant system is right for every finalist so speak to previous queens, finalists etc - especially those who aren't still involved in the system. Find out the good, the bad and the ugly and then make a decision on what is the right system for you and your message. Don’t try to change yourself to fit an ideal of what you think a particular system crowns. Be authentic, a system should crown you because of who you are not what you are trying to pretend to be. Work hard, stay true to yourself and your goals and enjoy it!
What is the most important thing you have done or will be doing with your current title?
The most important thing that I have ever done is have someone to say to me because of you my cancer was found early. A few people have been lovely enough within the pageant community to say because of me they have started to check regularly and then maybe have found something that needed checking out, for some it was good news, for others not but because of my message it was found early which made a difference. To me, to be able to make such a life changing difference to people is a true honour and something I hope to continue to do long after my reign ends.
Do you think it is important for a queen to use her title to support her system and take part in community and charity work?
Absolutely. A queen is an ambassador for her system. However there should be a balance too. Be mindful of burn out - you can’t financially and physically support every cause, every event, every fundraiser. I think a queen should actively encourage people to join her system family but that it should be natural because of the love she has for her system. A queen should use her title to support community and charity causes that have meaning, relevance and a link for her. Not just endless pictures of any campaign going because it looks good in an appearance book. Choose your causes and what you support carefully. I would rather see a queen genuinely support a couple of causes than mindlessly support everything.
What qualities do you think a competitor needs to win a crown?
I think authenticity, humility, hardwork and passion are all qualities that you need to win a crown. I think a genuine passion for your cause and platform goes a long way. If you have that passion you can speak and support your cause almost effortlessly and the passion is contagious. I think an ability to remain focused but not single minded is important - you need balance and down time in life too and I have seen many queens be exhausted trying to do everything and be everywhere. Just be yourself - for the right system that will be the perfect quality.
Do you think a queen is a role model and has responsibilities connected with that?
Absolutely. With such an age range in pageantry I think its important to be a role model for other finalists and especially the younger generation. I don’t mean to be a faceless model of perfection - we all have flaws and life sometimes has a way of throwing in its own humps and hurdles that I think it's important to be honest about. I look at queens and the way they represent and think, would I want my girls who are pageant finalists to see that as a role model?
How would you explain Beauty Pageants to someone who has never experienced one?
It's so much more than a chance to wear amazing outfits, and dress up fancy and look lovely. Its a chance to make a difference in your community. It's a chance to use your passion and hardwork and a whole network of community members to make real change in the world. Pageantry is our legacy to show we can do anything and everything including changing the world for the better.
What's been your greatest learning experience from pageantry?
My greatest learning experience has been that not everyone is in it for the same reasons. Like any hobby, job, group or sport there are people who just want to get to the top and will do anything to get there. Trust your judgement, remain authentic and true to yourself and think for yourself. Pageantry is an amazing place to make real friends for life so surround yourself with those people.
What was running through your head when your name was announced as the winner?
Shock mainly - 3 weeks earlier due to some major life changes knocking my confidence I had considered pulling out as I just didn't think I could do it right now. After some pep talks from some amazing queens I went and gave it my all and I was so proud of myself. My oldest two children were in the audience too for the first time ever seeing me on stage so it was wonderful to share that moment with them too.
Who is your Beauty Pageant inspiration?
I have several people who are inspiring to me. Hannah Golding comes to mind especially, as a fellow single mama she inspires me with her parenting and the way she juggles her pageant responsibilities with her family life. I was really inspired by the way Hannah remained focused on her goal of an international crown and although it took more than one attempt she continued to work hard for it. Other queens who come to mind are amazing people who inspire through personal adversity like Clare Worton, who do amazing jobs supporting everyone like Amanda Norton and so many others.
Can you tell us more about your sister queens?
I love the Pure UK family and I love the way there is such an amazing support network amongst my sister queens. It was great to feel wrapped up with support and genuine friendship both before, at and since finals and I can’t wait to share my international journey with them.
If you want to find out more about Tracie or follow her journey check out the links below -