Iraqi Beauty Queen Hiba Alfatle wants to use the power of education to defeat terrorism

Brains, beauty, compassion – the contemporary image of a beauty queen has come a long way. Pageantry no longer requires you to sit down and look pretty. 

Pageant interviews often include questions related to the important issues of terrorism, the spread of ISIS and national security. So, what can a "pageant girl" do to ensure they put on a successful event, get noticed, and grow from the experience? Read on and discover Ms. Arizona America 2016, Hiba Alfatle's story!

• Can you introduce yourself? 

My name is Hiba Alfatle and I am your Ms. Arizona America 2016. I was born and raised in the land of the Mesopotamia, Iraq/Baghdad. I came to the Land of the free and home of the brave the United States of America in 2009 as a war refugee. Iraq is where my roots are, my heritage and my family. United States is my home and future. I met a lot of people here in the States that became my extended family. Many people ask me, so are you Iraqi or are you American? I am a human being just like the rest of us and then I am Iraqi or American. Aside from being Ms. Arizona, I am a Project Manager for a top 100 fortune companies, I like to volunteer my time to help others and be involved in my community. My hobbies and what I like to do in my free time involves anything that can make me think and stimulate my brain! I like to watch Forensic shows and how the Forensic world evolved in the past 40 years to help investigators control and solve crimes. I also, briefly, studied the world of Astrology and I am very fascinated by it. So, if you tell me what day/Month/Year you were born I will tell you all about yourself (giggle)

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• Your pageant platforms is World Peace for Children (The power of Education in ending terrorism).

Can you tell me more about it ?

The best return of investment for any country will be investing in children. Children will adapt to any situation you put them in and it will grow with them and within them. If you provide children with an environment filled with violent, they will adapt to it and they will think it is ok to be that way. If you provide an environment of peace this will open the door for more creativity, kids will shine into this environment and they will be it as well. I was and still against the violent behavior against children in all forms, even if it was in the form of a video game because it will ignite the sense of violent within them and make it ok to be that way. Kids are the driving force to change this world one step at a time.

• What is your favorite pageant or which pageant do you recommend others to compete in?

First of all, selecting the pageant that is right for you is very important. I prefer a pageant that is focused on Women accomplishments that honor women, a pageant that is classy and elegant. Not a sex show. All these elements combined is represented by the Ms. America Pageant. I knew from day one that the Ms. America pageant is the right pageant for me.  

• For you, what constitutes true beauty?

I know that everyone has their own different opinion and I respect everyone’s opinion. I do believe that beauty should be felt not seen, beauty reflects your inner self, your attitude and persona. This is what I call the “never fading beauty” because it will never go away or change and this is how people will remember you. In today’s society it is becoming very sad to know that only looks can attract you to a person rather than a kind action or a kind word instead. To me beauty comes from within and if you are not beautiful and kind from the inside, then your external beauty will have no meaning.

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What one word best describe you?

“Generosity” I am very generous with my time, money, emotions, thoughts…etc. I am a firm believer that the way you treat others is how you will be remembered. I want people to remember me, not as the beautiful woman who dressed nicely and had the best makeup and hair style but as the woman who had a purpose, a goal, a heart and soul, and an unlimited desire to help others. You will not be able to accomplish that if you are not generous with everything you have.  

• Some people say that beauty pageants are degrading to women, same with fashion magazines. How can you convince them that they’re wrong?

This is a great question and in order to answer it we will have to battle with stereotypes. Many people think that beauty pageants only judge physical appearances, but that is only a small part of it. Pageant contestants should have talents and they should know everything about the world around them. Beauty queens should be opinionated about many topics including politics and Religion which are in my opinion are the most challenging topics in today’s world. Beauty queens will have the responsibility to represent their cities, states, and sometimes an entire county. Beauty pageants boosts your self-esteem and confidence level, motivate you and challenge you to do things that you never thought you can do. If the only part you will be judged for in a beauty pageant is your physical/external appearance then I would agree that some beauty pageants are degrading to women, but Pageant contestants are judged by an Interview that you will have only few minutes to show the judges who you really are and how passionate you are with your platform or purpose, you will also have the on stage question that will put you on the spotlight in front of thousands if not millions of people to judge your level of confidence and knowledge.

To me, participating in beauty pageants helped me discover who I really am, what are my strengths and weaknesses, gave me confidence and knowledge, had the opportunity to meet many amazing women and took me to places and opportunities I did not think I could see or have. It made me a better version of myself.  

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• What is your opinion about pageants that are being held worldwide for kids (-18 year old) ?

Do you support these kind of pageants or are you against them? Please explain I don’t think there should be any age limit to pageants. I totally support kids participating in pageants and if I have kids I will defiantly encourage them to participate in pageants because it help kids build their self-confidence and self-esteem, it help them be organized and teach them public speaking and to be outgoing. My only concern is for some kids and their parents who enter pageants not knowing what to expect, some parents tell their kids that they should win and they put pressure on the child and if he/she won’t won it will ignite a sense of failure and will do the opposite of the intended purpose which is building the child confidence. Instead, I believe that parents should explain to their kids that if they participate in pageants they can either win or lose and that will teach them to be competitive and that is what life is, right?

• Where do we hope to see you In the next 10 years? 

Wow 10 years is a very long time, I don’t know what I am having for dinner tonight ( giggle)… Well, I am a dreamer always so here we go: On the professional level I hope I will be managing my own business to support women rights all over the world. I want to help make every woman feel empowered and that she is an important elements in her society especially in the Middle East. On the personal level I hope I will find my prince charming and start my own family. I also hope that you and I Louise will celebrate the 10th anniversary of you asking me this question ( giggle).

• What do you expect to gain by competing in pageantry?

Experience! Every step you make in your life weather starting a new job, a new relationship, traveling someplace new…etc all you gain is experience. Pageantry is no difference! The more you participate, the more experience you gain. Opportunity: Participating in pageants gives you the golden opportunity to promote your platform and your purpose, it also opens wide range of doors for new connections and making new friends.  

• Who has the greatest influence on your life?

My mother! My mother was a very strong and beautiful woman both inside and out. I learned a lot from her and believe it or not I am still learning from her to this day. My mother passed away in 2011.  

• What is the best thing that happened to you ?

The number one best thing that happened to me is my family. I was born and raised in a very loving supporting family. I had the greatest parents in the world who believed in me and supported me in every step of the way. I have the best siblings who do their best every day to make me feel loved and supported even though they are thousands of miles away from me. The second best thing that happened to me was that I found my purpose as a woman in loving and nurturing everyone around me. With that being said, if you ask me this question few years from today, I would say the best thing that happened to me is becoming a mother!  

• What accomplishment are you most proud of?

One of my major accomplishments so far is transforming myself from a very shy, spoiled, dependent girl to a fearless, courageous, and independent woman. Many of my close friends thought that it was very bold and courageous of me to start a life in a new country on my own…but the reality is transforming myself to the type of woman who can do that and much more…was the real difficult and courageous part. I am very proud of what I have accomplished so far in my life and continue to do great things as long as I am breathing…. I don’t give up easily weather on the people I am with or the goals I have to yet accomplish….  

• What is something you wish you could do?

I wish I can be the mother for all the kids who lost their mothers. No one can love you as much as your mother can and when you lose your mother is like you lost a piece of yourself. I know the feeling…….