April 26, 2018, 7:24 pm
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Siera Bearchell: Healthy, fit and confident

MISS Universe-Canada 2016 Siera Bearchell reached the Top 9 of the recent Miss Universe Pageant at the MOA Arena, earning respect for her confidence and garnering praise from media for standing up to body shamers who, obviously, are still boxed by the standards of yore in beauty pageants where one has to look lean and approximate a 34-24-34 figure.

A week before the Miss Universe finals last January 30, news website independent.co.uk reported that Bearchell, who turned 24 last Wednesday, revealed she had been asked “What happened to you? Why have you gained weight? You are losing points.”

She responded on Instagram by saying that while she might not be the same size she was when she was 16 or 20 – which of course should not be surprising to anyone who understands the development of the human body – but she is more “confident, capable, wise, humble and passionate than ever before.”

“As soon as I started to love who I was rather than always trying to fit what I thought society wanted me to be, I gained a whole new side of life,” she told her 15,000 followers. 

In another post, Bearchell said that for previous pageants, she had undergone extreme diets by “restricting my food intake intensely.” Instead of feeling happier, however, she felt “miserable and self-conscious.” 

“Our lives are fluid, dynamic and ever-changing. So are our bodies,” she wrote. “… My body is not naturally lean and that’s okay. I am healthy. I am fit. I am confident. I am me. This is who I am right now and I’m okay with it, so you should be too.”

She added that she is trying to bring a more human side to the Miss Universe competition and steer it away from the main focus on appearance, something she believes is slowly changing. 

Bearchell, who is a law student and entrepreneur, is a runner and golfer. She runs a full marathon (42.2 km.) and believes that the determination, patience, perseverance and stamina needed to finish the course are exactly what a Miss Universe needs to have likewise. 

According to Miss Universe Canada national director Denis Davila, Siera was Miss Teen World 2009 second runner-up and Miss Supranational 2015 first runner-up before catching the attention of pageant fans at the 65th Miss Universe tilt. 

Plus-size supermodel Ashley Graham, who co-hosted Miss Universe 2016, did not hide her excitement when Siera made it to the first cut of 13 semi-finalists, then to the second cut of nine finalists. She immediately interviewed Siera backstage in between segments. 

When Ashley asked what her message was to her body shamers, Siera responded: “Focus on what you love about yourself, not what society wants you to change. If you can be happy [with] who you are, you will be happy [with] whatever you are doing.”

Siera also revealed in an interview with Pinky Webb on CNN Philippines that she took up Law in order to be a voice for women who lack self-worth and self-esteem. “Law teaches us the skills to speak and defend our point,” she said. 

The Miss Universe Pageant, originally a contest to select winners to endorse swimsuits manufactured by a California-based company, has truly evolved today, crowning winners who are more than just gorgeous faces and bodies. The pageant has become platforms for contestants – and winners – to share inspiring stories of rising up from challenges and struggles in order to reach for their dreams.

Hats off to Mister International Philippines 2016 Miguel Mari de la Cruz Guia for making it as one of the 16 semi-finalists at the 11th Mister International Pageant held in
Bangkok, Thailand last Monday. The 27-year-old model and IT student from San Pablo City was also named Missosology People’s Choice winner. 

Top favorite Paul Iskandar of Lebanon won the title, the third for his country in 11 years.

Runners-up were Masaya Yamagishi of Japan, first and Vinicio Modolo of Italy, second.
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