More Black Girl Magic is Needed in Beauty Pageants - Discover the inspiring story of Acholly Arow

Beauty pageants are more than just winning a crown and sash. It is big business, and it provides several lucrative opportunities for the winners and its contestants. Many contestants have found considerable success in various professions, including entertainment (Halle Berry), journalism (Oprah Winfrey), and politics (Erika Harold). As great as the possibilities are, there are not enough African women competing in the pageant world.

Pageants have come a long way through the days when women of colour were prohibited through participating. However, with less than 10 black winners in each major national pageant, there’s still the need for growth, diversity, in addition to inclusivity.

"In some pageants I could be the only African girl competing" - The beautiful Acholly Arow from Australia competed internationally and nationally in beauty contests. She moved from South Sudan to escape the war with her family to have a better future. She is a current student studying an undergrad of Bachelors in Political Science. She is also a retail sales assistant to a well-known fashion brand. 

Here we bring you the untold facts about Acholly's life and also her ideas, objectives and opinions… Have a look!

You are South Sudanese -Australian. What makes you the most proud of your culture?

Even though I am South Sudanese Australian, I consider myself to having two cultures that I am very proud of. I arrived to Australia when I was just 8 years old, integrating into a new environment, going to school and learning English as my second language my mother always encouraged me to never forget my mother tongue whether I am communicating to my fellow peers in Dinka or Arabic. I believe to have a second language and to able to communicate with others is a beautiful skill to have.

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

Yes of course. I have competed internationally and nationally in beauty pageants, in some pageants I could be the only African girl competing – that does make me stand out from the other girls. I feel like sometimes it’s the little things that I don’t realise at that particular moment that get to me when it shouldn’t. Luckily enough, I learnt to express myself to my friends and family, they are honestly my heroes when I get down, they encourage me to not think about the negatives and that I should always be my best and to do that I need to not let little things consume thoughts and self-esteem. 9/10 it really works and I become myself again!

acholly miss

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

Recently I have finished a course ran by AMES Australia on Prevention of Violence against Women.

This is a really important course for me to partake in as it is very close to my heart. Ultimately I want to become a global ambassador for children and women who have experienced this issue, I want to work closely with my south Sudanese community especially to educate and opening conversations about what is violence, the types of violence and also create an awareness. Because in some cultures – it is okay to abuse a women whether it is physically, emotionally, financially or even psychological – I want men in my community to know that this is not okay and we all need to change our culture values and views.  

acholly beauty queen

What is the one thing you would like to say to young girls who aspire to compete in a pageant?

TO ALWAYS BE YOURSELF!  If you are being yourself you wouldn’t have to worry about trying to be someone else we all have our strengths and weaknesses and each one of us are a working progress. Just because you see a girl next to you who looks like she has it all together she definitely also has something that she would like to work on.

Who is your favourite beauty queen and why?

My favourite beauty queen would definitely has to be Aishwarya who won Miss India and Miss World in 1994. She’s an inspiration to me because despite the perception people had of her home country she managed to always be her best and to educate the majority of people about what India is all about!

aishwarya rai miss

I also have a second favourite beauty queen! Miss USA 2016 Deshauna Barber! I admire her drive and ambition. She is one of the queens I really look up to, her character always comes across as genuine and the fact that she too has the same skin colour as myself. Ultimately I want to be one of the first South Sudanese girl to represent my second home Australia in an international beauty pageant and I feel Deshauna Barber has definitely inspired me to believe in myself and to achieve my very best.

deshauna barber miss