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Yes, You Can Be A Feminist Beauty Queen - Meet Larissa Hirst, Finalist For The Crown Of Miss Universe Great Britain 2018

I felt the need to start by explicitly stating the definition of both of these terms because oftentimes, people have the misconception that feminists are “crazy” females who do not shave their legs or armpits and basically hate men. This could not be any further from the truth. A feminist is simply a person, female or male, that wants equal rights for both genders, and an outspoken feminist simply notices and points out that equal rights for both genders have not yet been achieved.

And yes, you can compete in a beauty pageant and call yourself feminist. The gorgeous Larissa Hirst, who'll be competing for the crown of Miss Universe Great Britain 2018, thinks that the Miss Universe Pageant allows women to celebrate their differences and being confidently beautiful - "Women are like diamonds - we are all different sizes, shapes and colours, and yes we have flaws. If more people celebrated their differences, I think the world would be happier."

Larissa currently works in financial journalism which is a male dominated environment - "I think being able to thrive in a challenging field will help me. I also blog on my female news site, Feminists in Heels, which is my way of empowering women by giving them a bigger voice in the world" - she explained.

Check my interview about Larissa's preparation for the Miss Universe GB pageant below! Did you know ? Great Britain has never won the Miss Universe title. The closest it could reach was in the year 2013, when Amy Willerton secured the Top 10 spot at Miss Universe 2013 pageant. 


You will compete at the Miss Universe Great Britain Pageant, how will you prepare the contest ? What unique characteristics would you say you bring to the competition?

I’m preparing by making sure I do something every day that will make a difference in the competition. That can be planning my charity events, working out, practising catwalk or interview, sourcing outfits or blogging about the contest. 

My unique characteristics are that I have been championing women in my workplace and now I want to do that but bigger and better through the Miss Universe platform. Miss Universe Great Britain is supporting women worldwide with it’s A Sisterhood initiative and I plan to fundraise for the three main causes this supports. I’ve just arranged a charity curry night to fundraise for acid attack survivors in India so I’m currently planning my menu! 

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Photo by Stacey Clarke

What inspired you to walk on the course of beauty pageants? 

I’ve watched pageants since I was young and first starting entering them in my teens. I just wanted to do something different and work alongside likeminded women - pageantry has always felt natural to me. Miss Universe is the absolute pinnacle for me so I’m honoured to be in this contest. 

What do you expect to gain by competing in pageantry? 

I’ve gained so much from pageantry already. I’ve discovered the woman I’ve become and also because of pageants I think I’m the best version of me that I’ve ever been - confident, powerful and inspired. I also expect to gain new friends, as last years Miss Universe GB contestants were wonderful and we keep having reunion nights outs! 

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Tell me something about yourself and your work. What do you actually do, and have done in the past?

I work in finance, writing and editing content on currency markets. It’s a serious subject that affects our daily lives. I’ve always worked in traditionally male dominated fields - I’ve previously worked covering the oil, gas and mining industries. 

I also model part time, mainly bridal work and also blog as a freelance writer. 

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 this your case ? And if so, why ?

I only discovered pageants when I was in my late teens as in the UK I wouldn’t say pageantry is as ‘big’ compared to some countries. I got to interview contestants when I was a student journalist and it just blew my mind how amazing the girls were. I knew I wanted to be part of this incredible movement of women celebrating their external and internal beauty. 

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Social media seem to play a major role in pageantry nowadays. Do you think this is advantageous to you? Why or why not? 

I think social media can help you reach out to sponsors so it is very useful for competing. I think it’s important to post your activities in the run to competing to show your engagement, and my blogs on feminism are heavily shared online. I do believe the winner wins on the night so you need to keep up the momentum when you are competing. You need to be the whole package regardless of follower numbers, although I’m always keen to show more followers what I’m doing! 

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Photos by David Freeman

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

I’ve been a national finalist in Miss England for Miss World four times, placing twice. It’s hard to put yourself out there again and again. But everything happens for a reason and I know now that I’m the best me I’ve ever been - I’m putting everything into this title. 

We’ve all seen the stereotypical portrayals of pageant contestants, a la Miss Congeniality, spreading peace, love and beauty throughout the world. How do you think you'll make a difference ?

There’s nothing wrong with peace, love and beauty - I think some world leaders would benefit from taking a leaf out of beauty pageant contestants’ books! 

I’ve been told I’m a ray of positivity and I really hope that’s true! A few years ago my boyfriend was diagnosed with cancer. A day after his diagnosis I signed up to run a half marathon to fundraise for the ward he was going to be treated on - the same ward my grandad had lost his battle with cancer on. This type of stoicism I think is crucial in a Miss Universe - we need to be strong and this is how I’ll make a difference, hopefully inspiring others out there to face adversity with a smile. 

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

I think all women should give pageantry a shot. It’s shaped me and I’ve had nothing but positive experiences. Any young girls who dream of being a queen need to think about what they’d do with the title to make sure they’re making a difference! 

Who is your ideal beauty queen and why?

I love Demi Leigh Peters because for so long I thought my height would hold me back, but we’re both the same size so I know now it was in my head!

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My ideal beauty queens are not actually beauty queens but in my mind they embody the spirit and power of what type of beauty queen I would like to be - Serena Williams, JK Rowling and Malala Yousafzai.  

Thanks to the beautiful Larissa for the interview. Pageants News wishes you all the very best for Miss Universe Great Britain pageant.

 

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