Our interview with Rachel gave us an insight to her pageant journey so far and the things that she is currently working towards. Rachel openly shares her opinions on popular pageant topics, plus how she uses her platform to empower and inspire women!
What is your favourite thing about pageantry so far?
So many things - it's hard to narrow it down to just one! The sisterhood is amazing though. It always feels like you have so much support no matter what you're doing in pageantry.
What is your opinion on finding ‘The Perfect Dress’? Is it important?
It's definitely important! To me 'The Perfect Dress' is the one that makes you feel confident, beautiful and as if you have no imperfections. That's what shows when you walk across the stage in it. I couldn't wait to put my first evening gown on at my first pageant, and refused to take it off afterwards because I just felt so amazing wearing it! If you keep wanting to get it out and just wear it to do your housework then it's the perfect dress!
How would you define perfection?
It's honestly a word I hate! I prefer to define success than perfection. Success is a flexible term that to me means finding what makes you happy and fulfilled and striving to do that. Perfection to me is fitting a narrow criteria that's difficult to achieve. Some things are perfect to me that other people would absolutely despise. Imperfections make us who we are. So I don't really strive for perfection, but success and happiness.
Do you have a project you are saving for a crown, and do you think it is important to save projects for the crown?
I recently launched my platform for the UK's National Miss, Bossy and Feminine, which aims to empower women to be themselves whilst challenging everyday sexism, and whilst gaining a crown would be amazing to help it grow, I'm going to keep building it up no matter what. I think having a project you save for a crown is great for manifesting that winner's mentality! But for me, I just don't have the patience! If I'm passionate about something, I have to get going right away!
What qualities do you think a competitor needs to win a crown?
Leadership skills, ambition and confidence to shine! It's also so important to also build others up and inspire people with what you do everyday. I follow so many current Queens that always inspire me to think bigger and better with what I do - I feel like a better person because of it!
What is your opinion on swimwear rounds?
I love the swimwear round but I also have my problems with it. Personally, I think it's important when choosing a queen with confidence, who can walk a stage with no doubt in herself despite wearing very little. Most pageants began as bikini or bathing beauty contests, so I love the little history link. But often swimsuit rounds are equated to promoting health and fitness, and I feel like they miss the mark. It can perpetrate the idea that skinniness is equal to fitness, which isn't true. I think more emphasis could be placed on body positivity and the idea that every body is a bikini body. Sadly, as more pageants opt for a sportswear round over a swimsuit round, the problem can be pushed further. It's definitely still a point for discussion!
How would you explain Beauty Pageants to someone who has never experienced one?
I think they can best be described as a wonderful group of very different women coming together to celebrate themselves, each other and their years. As a titleholder, we build awareness of causes close to our hearts and fundraise for charities that mean a lot to us. The pageant is where we all get to celebrate it. And the addition of sparkly outfits and formal gowns just makes it all better!
Can you tell me your funniest memory from Pageantry?
At the Ms Galaxy 2020 rehearsals we were waiting backstage to practice. When the music came on, the outgoing queen screamed "I LOVE THIS SONG!" and so we all just burst out singing and couldn't hear the prompt to go until poor Steph was screaming at us!
Can you tell me your most embarrassing memory from Pageantry?
It's between 2 - I didn't get my evening gown altered and kept tripping on the hem during my walk, and you see in my face how flustered I was getting! Because it was my first pageant and I was a really last minute entry, I didn't place and I hadn't expected to, but in the final photos I look so angry about not placing! It was actually because my shoes were too small and I'd been wearing them all day, so my actual thoughts during side awards getting announced were "can we hurry this up? My feet are in agony!". Thankfully I'm way off to the side so I'm not in too many photos!
What does your system stand for and why is this important to you?
To me, UK's National Miss is a pageant which breaks stereotypes and builds women to be the best they can be, imparting real life skills as well as amazing memories and maybe a beautiful crown! I'm a woman who works in science, and competing in pageants is definitely something women in science don't equate to these fields! I'm all about breaking stereotypes and empowering women to be their best self with no apologies, so I just feel like it's the perfect fit for me!
“I am all about breaking stereotypes”
Do you have a platform? Tell us about it.
My platform is called "Bossy and Feminine" (we have a Facebook page you can search for) and it aims to empower women by encouraging them to be themselves whilst challenging everyday sexism. I currently post weekly discussions in which we discuss things such as societal expectations of women, media tropes surrounding female characters and other topics which directly address sexist attitudes. My hope is grow this and challenge some of the little, less known areas of feminist ideas and change people's views of how they view women that they may not have thought about before.
Do you think it is important for a National Beauty Pageant to lead to an International Beauty Pageant?
Not at all. It's entirely possible to build a global audience for a national pageant and in the case of bigger international pageants such as Miss Universe, certain countries have higher win rates than others, meaning some Queens are unlikely to be remembered even if they work so hard to build their platforms and brands. A good example is the current Miss GB Jen Atkin - her platform now has a huge global reach on just the GB title alone.
What do beauty Pageants mean to you and how would you define them?
To me, beauty pageants helped me to define who I am and stand up for myself. They build women up in a world that's almost determined to put them in a box. I definitely think they are growth experiences. Not for everyone, but for those who take part in and love them, I think we would all agree that they have built us up to be the best versions of ourselves.
Why do you want to enter a Beauty Pageant?
I'd always wanted to do it, but because I was defined as 'the smart girl', it was always something I'd never thought I'd be able to do. When Camille Schrier won Miss America as a pharmacist, performing a science experiment as her talent, it was talked about and actually celebrated in scientific media. I realised then that I was perfectly capable of entering and competing in a pageant. I started researching, entered a pageant thinking nothing would come of it, and well, here I am now!
Who is your Beauty Pageant inspiration?
I have quite a few! Camille Schrier inspired me to start entering pageants; Catriona Grey inspired me to be confident on stage; Jen Atkin inspired me to speak loud and proud about my platform; and I coach with Harriotte Lane who encourages me every day in every aspect of my life!
Find and follow Rachel here;
Platform Facebook: www.facebook.com/thewomensnarrative
Platform Instagram: www.instagram.com/thewomensnarrative
Good luck Rachel!
Here at Pageant Land, we love to support all our UK queens, contestants, systems and suppliers. We have created multiple ways you can all get involved and be featured. We work fairly far ahead and have many submissions to work through, so please submit to be featured well ahead of your pageant, event, etc if it is time-sensitive. Due to the huge amount of content we currently produce we are often unable to notify everyone of when the feature will be going up (excluding lives), so make sure you are following our Facebook group, page and Instagram so you don't miss yourself popping up.
To find out more about all the opportunities to get involved please visit www.pageantland.online/getinvolved
Make sure you are checking out the previous features so you understand the format for each platform. For example, blogs are fairly long form (around 1500 words ideally) so make sure you give us a lot of information on the blog submissions or INTRODUCE YOURSELF where we always use the same format so don't submit something in a different format as we may miss your submission or not have time to edit it.
Not sure how, what, where or why to submit? Keep an eye out for season 5 of the podcast, where we will be holding a whole episode to discuss this.