A Harrogate teenager who has made it through to the final of national pageant Miss Teen Great Britain, has spoken out against the negative stereotypes that can still surround such competitions.
Simone Alphonse-Yewdall, 19, who has recently been crowned Miss Teen Harrogate, said the role of pageants has changed dramatically over the years, and that many now have a strong and important sense of 'girl power' at their core.
She said: "I myself had a view on pageants that had been influenced by what I had seen on reality TV, in the media, and going off the general consensus and lack of knowledge surrounding the pageant world.
"Entering Miss Teen Great Britain wasn't something I planned on doing, I just stumbled across an advertisement online and thought I'd check out what UK pageants were like because I was more exposed to American beauty competitions.
"It came as a massive shock to me when I realised that it wasn't a parade of beautiful girls flaunting their beauty, but it had core values and aims that work towards building young girls' confidence and celebrating differences. Many of the girls I have met this year, it is their first time competing, and I think it says a lot that in a society where young girls have more pressure than ever before to meet certain beauty standards, that they themselves as teenagers make the decision to enter the competition.
"Miss Teen Great Britain promotes such a strong sense of girl power, and it really is such a fun and character-building experience."
Young people from across Great Britain will compete for the crown of Miss Teen Great Britain in the October final, with the winner walking away with prizes including a cash prize sum of £1,000, dresses from The Dress Studio, a sparkling sash and crown, and more.
The finalists will have plenty of time to make friends as the two-day event, which will consist of elements including a Beauty Queen Challenge day and a Pyjama Diva Party, before battling it out for the title at The Globe in Blackpool.
Simone said: "When I found out I had won a place in the grand final and had been given the title of Miss Teen Harrogate, I was so shocked. I have never entered a competition like this befor,e and definitely never thought I would make it this far - especially not on my first time entering."
As part of her reign as Miss Teen Harrogate, Simone will be raising money for Together for Short Lives, a UK charity that supports children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions.
She said: "Having my title has made me more proactive in reaching out to charities and businesses in the area to volunteer and help out, and I have enjoyed finding out more about my local area and having a stronger sense of community which I wouldn't have engaged with if it wasn't for my title. It's been really rewarding."
"I feel privileged to be a part of this experience of a lifetime that brings young girls together to promote empowerment and positivity. I’m also really excited to meet all of the grand finalists and make lots of new friends throughout the competition."
While Simone is new to the world of pageants, she is no stranger to the world of stage stage, as she has enjoyed doing acting and theatre work since she was four years old, and has recently been involved in some film and TV work.
Simone will be performing in Jane Eyre presented by the Harrogate Dramatic Society at Harrogate Theatre just two days after the Miss Teen Great Britain grand final.