Miss Universo

Shanelle Connell is set to make history at the 2017 Miss Universe Canada Pageant

When people think of pageants, they get a certain mental image based on what they have seen from watching them on TV and from stories in the news. However, most people don't understand what these pageants are like from the perspective of an insider. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and it’s crazy to see that in several beauty contests lack of height somehow contributes to lack of beauty. That’s the age old stereo type we are here to break down.  Consider this Miss America crowned their first beauty queen in 1921 and she was 5’1″, after that there have only been five petite queens throughout the pageants history.  

The beautiful Shanelle Connell, who will be competing for the crown of Miss Universe Canada 2017 this weekend, is ready to make history as one of the shortest contestants to go to Miss Universe - "I am excited to show my country and the world the capacity us shorter women have to rock the stage. The typical pageant height that you look up online is 5’7, 5’9, etc. I am not of that height… I stand proud at my fierce and petite height of 5’3. And no where does the Miss Universe organization say that to be a great ambassador of your country means you have to be average model height." she explained

So who is Shanelle Connell ? She initially went into university to become a Computer Scientist and now she's aiming to specialize in Relationship and Marriage Counselling with a BA in Psychology. But she wanted to get a Graphic Design Diploma  - "I honestly could laugh when I think about it because it sounds like I was all over the map, but the truth is every skill and network outreach I've acquired through that process has gotten me where I am today. I have the ability to brand myself without spending a fortune on a design company, I can fix codeing errors if I need to, and I know how to integrate psychological influence in order to establish my online persona in a clear, concise manner."

I had the opportunity to interview the beauty queen a few days before the Miss Universe Canada Contest; check it below!

You will compete at the Miss Universe Canada Pageant, how do you feel ? What inspired you to walk on the course of beauty pageants? 

Going into any competition setting, I think it’s natural to feel a diverse range of emotions. The last few months I’ve had a mix of nerves, excitement, and anticipation coursing through my veins. But oddly enough, with only a few days until the fun begins… I feel like a wave of calm has come over me and it’s very rewarding. I know I’ve put maximum efforts in, challenged myself and worked hard to be where I am going into Miss Universe Canada. It’s a beautiful feeling really, seeing your dedication take form.

Initially, what inspired me to get into beauty pageants was to be an advocate for women that have been through toxic relationships… Being that I’ve been through one myself, I never wanted another woman to go through the mind games I went through. It can break your confidence and spirit after a prolonged period of time; no woman deserves that. However, I believe my platform has evolved into something much more since the day I sent in my application. After working with the Elizabeth Fry society as their public ambassador, this year, I saw a need for a public voice that would campaign of behalf of women, men and children that have been domestically, sexually, or mentally abused. Now my reason for entering pageants is much bigger than myself, it’s to help give life back to those that have had their dignity attempted to be stripped from them. 


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What do you expect to gain by competing in pageantry?

I honestly didn’t expect to gain anything out of it. The only thing I wanted to gain was a platform that would be complementary to my choice career, and to truly inspire others to find the value within themselves that has been hidden away because of unfortunate circumstances. 

But since entering into pageantry... I’ve gained not only a new found confidence, but a new found ability to handle stress. Being in Miss Universe Canada has really tested my mental and physical forms. There was a point while I was planning my Operation Smile event that I was so insanely tired, I didn’t even know if I would be able to drive myself to meetings because I felt like falling asleep in my car. (Luckily I did the smart thing and asked for a ride.) So, I went to my naturopath to find out what was the issue, and my blood results showed my cortisol level was a 193 out of a 400 optimal range. She had no idea how I was even functioning, but it just went to show me what I was capable of accomplishing even with such a drastic cortisol deficiency. Thus, with that being said pageantry has given me empowerment within myself… I know I’m a very able woman that can achieve great things no matter what life may throw her way.

Many misses have said that their dream since a child was to participate in a pageant as prestigious as Miss World (or Miss Universe). It it your case ? And if so, why ?

I definitely had the dream as a little girl to be up on that Miss Universe stage and represent Canada, but I don’t think it was ever my focus or goal at that point in life. I was more concerned with what Barbie I was going to play with that day or what dance routine I was going to create to a Shania Twain song with my girlfriends. I truly only started to think about seriously entering into pageantry when I turned old enough to actually enter. That’s when my mom started to hear every year around Miss World or Miss Universe time… “Hey mum, do you think I should enter into Miss Universe?” Year after year of asking, but not doing, she finally got sick of hearing about it and basically told me if I didn’t enter this year that she didn’t want to hear about it anymore. That’s why I guess I finally took the world of pageantry seriously this year. I realized that there will never the the “right time”, because life will never offer you a perfect opportunity to accomplish anything until you jump in and take that first step fearlessly. 

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Did you face any moment of disappointment with yourself during the pageant journey, and how did you overcome it?

Oh 100%. Any great opportunity in life comes with disappointment somewhere along the line. I think my biggest disappointment was realizing who my true friends were, and how incredibly mean some girls can be when they get tainted by the green eyed monster. It was actually disheartening, because I was naive to the fact one relationship I had started to crumble and turn into a very poisonous outcome… I didn’t pay attention to the signs and I learned the true colours of that person very fast. I was disappointed in myself for not listening to my inner instincts, which are typically always right, and that I didn’t protect myself more from potential hurt I could face in the future. I have a very giving and unconditional style of love and I can honestly say that USED to get me in trouble; and being taken advantage of hurt my mental health. 

But I think the way I overcame that was channeling my discouraged emotions into impacting the life of someone else going through the same thing in profound and positive ways. Romans 3:5 says “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” I knew the best way to conquer hurt was giving hope to another, and that’s exactly how I dealt with it. 

What would you advise any young girl out there who has a dream of being a queen one day?

My one piece of advice would be to pursue her pageant path, not for the glory of a title… but for the encouragement she can provide to others. If she can be authentic to herself and her cause, she will accomplish her wildest dreams. Authenticity is the key to keeping a grounded heart, and a grounded heart is the key to making mountains move. Don’t let anyone tell you what you are or are not capable of- and put your faith in yourself, your vision and most importantly? God.

Who is your ideal beauty queen and how has she helped you to evolve as a beauty queen?

I don’t necessarily think I have an ideal ‘beauty queen’ in the pageant world, though the respect I have for Siera Bearchell is that of a very high level. Call it what you may, bias or favouritism, because she represented Canada so well- but Siera’s advocacy on behalf of body image and diversity really gave me the inspiration to just go for your goals no matter what. 

Thanks to Siera, I am incredibly excited to enter into Miss Universe Canada and to possibly make history as one of the shortest contestants (by far) to go to Miss Universe. Siera says we should not be defined by our size, and whether we are talking body weight or height? I 100% agree. 


Thanks to the beautiful Shanelle for the interview. Pageants News wishes you all the very best for Miss Canada Universe pageant.