In January of this year, Kirstie Cowburn from Ribbleton won the title of United Kingdom Sweetheart at the Pure UK Pageant.Advertisement
Pure UK is a family-oriented pageant where contestants are encouraged to take part in the community and charity work.
The competition takes place annually and finalists raise money for Pure’s chosen charity, The Salvation Army.
The mum-of-three became involved in beauty pageants four years ago. She went to a pageant with her husband, who was photographing the event, and thought it looked like fun.
Kirstie said: “I didn’t enter myself straight away because I thought my age would be a barrier. So, I entered my little girl first. After a while of getting to know people I realised I wasn’t too old as they accepted any age.
“So, I entered Miss Worldwide, in which I came first runner up and won Miss Congeniality. Seven months later I entered my next pageant, Natural Beauty. Unfortunately I didn’t win but I did win Miss Congeniality.
“I then entered Pure UK for their first year. I didn’t win but I loved it that much I re-entered to win my title Pure International Ms United Kingdom Sweetheart 2020 and Miss Congeniality.”
Kirstie says the UK director of Pure, Matt Trayford, is committed to establishing the competitions as one of the best pageants in the country. He recently won Pageant Director of the Year and Best Upcoming Pageant at the Natural Beauty international awards.
Although contestants are described as ‘Queens’, Kirstie feels that pageants in the UK aren’t the way they are shown in films or on television.
She said: “Pageants are much more than just looking beautiful on the stage. They are about being part of a family/sisterhood and being an inspiration to others.
“We do this by getting involved a lot in the community and fundraising for charity. We also use our titles to promote kindness and to let others know anybody with commitment can become a Queen. Nobody is judged on their ethnicity, size, disabilities. Children are encouraged to be natural and not wear makeup, fake tan, lashes or fake nails.
“Pageants are great confidence builders. Often, pageant contestants have a story of how being involved has changed their lives for the better. It doesn’t matter what you look like, as long as you are yourself and hardworking. That’s what they look for in a future queen.”
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Kirstie says taking part in pageants has been a positive experience for her.
“Before starting pageants I never had a goal in life. For many years I have suffered with depression and anxiety.
“Pageants have built my confidence and self-esteem. Through them I have met many new friends and become part of a wider family community. The support network within pageants has helped me get through my darkest times, because people do not judge me for my mental health.
“Everyone is accepted for who they are and are not expected to change just to fit in. Pageants help a lot of people in many ways.”
Kirstie is now encouraging others to enter pageants without being afraid of what they have heard in the media.
She said: “I was unsure about pageants at first, until I become involved and saw what real pageantry is all about.
“Go along and watch a pageant, talk to people and listen to what real people have to say. You could become part of an amazing community of people, where you will have fun and gain huge amounts of confidence.”
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What do you think of Kirstie’s award? Let us know in the comments.