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A Chat With Mikaela-Rose Fowler

Born and bred Mornington Peninsula girl is going for the crown as a finalist in the Miss Galaxy Australia Pageant. Mikaela-Rose Fowler is changing the way we view pageantry, proving you can still be a feminist and be a pageant girl!

Is there a lot involved when getting ready for a pageant?
I started in pageantry 3 years ago now, at the Miss Westernport Pageantry, and I think every pageant I compete in since I learn so much more about preparing for the next one. It’s not only preparing your pageant wardrobe and all of that, it’s also preparing yourself mentally. It is very much a mental preparation, as well as a physical preparation.

Is it hard mentally to be judged?
I’m not going to lie to someone and say you don’t end up questioning yourself, but it’s really weird in that for every time I’ve questioned myself, pageantry also helps build my confidence. I might be worried on the cellulite on my legs, then I get into pageant week, and all of a sudden I’m surrounded by 20 other women, who all have the same insecurities, and we get on stage, we have fun, it’s actually really fulfilling. I wake up some days and feel bad bout myself and I think about how much fun I have on stage and how good I felt and think ‘Nah, let’s do this!’

Do you have rivalries with other girls?
Not at all! Out the back we’re all zipping each other’s dresses up, giving each other compliments, and helping each other with their hair. Because pageantry is such a small community, if you can find someone who understands it, you automatically have a connection. I don’t think I’ve ever had a room mate that I didn’t get along with or walked away and didn’t have a tear in my eye when I had to say goodbye. It’s quite a sisterhood. I know it sounds corny, but if I don’t walk out with the crown I will walk out feeling so inspired by the other girls.

How and why did you get into that first pageant?
I had a friend who was running this pageant, family friend who didn’t really have as many numbers up as she would have liked. She said, ‘Come along, give it a go.’ I was still young, I was just starting uni, I thought I’d give it a crack, and I loved it. It was the first time I put time aside to work in the community and to help charity organisations. I just couldn’t see myself giving it up.

What did you do after that first pageant?
I won that crown, so I was sent to nationals of Miss Galaxy Australia, as a wild card as part of my crown. I got into the top ten of the Miss Galaxy, which was amazing given I had no idea what I was doing. After that I did Galaxy again, and then after that I decided to do a smaller Melbourne pageant. I decided I wanted to grow the pageantry community in Victoria since it’s quite small. I won that one, and I went off to America and then just couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into another one, so I’m doing Galaxy again.

Do you ever find it hard to put yourself out there and make friends with the other girls?
I haven’t always been able to (put myself out there), but pageantry has really helped me with that. You’ve got girls from all around Australia or the world that come together, they’ve got different cultures, some of them don’t speak the same language, and somehow, because they’re there on their own, they are forced to mingle and you make friends for life.

Have you experienced any bullying online?
I had some bullying after winning my first pageant, but if anything it just made me more determined. You get women who have been bullied all their lives, and they’ve decided they want to stand up to their bullies. They will support a charity like Bully Zero or something, and they use pageantry as a platform to do so.

There are people that believe pageantry is degrading to women, do you believe that pageantry is supporting feminism?
Absolutely. I don’t think I’ve ever competed with a girl that isn’t a feminist. We all are. We really want to show how strong women can be. We all have lives, some are juggling kids, and career. I really see that pageantry is misunderstood. There is a lot of incorrect information out there, and out in the media.

Do you have many plus size girls in pageantry?
Oh, yeah! There was Mrs Earth 2016, who has also gone on to run her own pageant. She is not what you would call your “typical” pageant girl. She’s a little bit older, her platform is ageism, and she had never worn a dress until she was up on stage.

What is the process of applying for Miss Galaxy?
You apply online, there’s a form you fill out. There’s a lot of questions, basically an all about you. Then you will get a phone interview. Then once at nationals, I present a portfolio. There’s a lot that’s involved in that, it’s about my community and charity involvement and exposure in media. Then we’ve got swimwear, formal wear, fitness and  fun fashion judging. Fun fashion is one of my favourites, it’s very out there and you get to show a bit of your personality. It’s about four days altogether. Every day there’s something. There’s a photo shoot, you also submit a headshot, and there’s a whole lot awards that can be won, separate from the crown. There’s Miss Congeniality, voted by her peers, and there’s an award for each category. There’s also an eco-beauty round, it’s sort of our orientation party, where we mingle and meet the girls.

What charity are you supporting for this pageant?
This pageant supports Make a Wish foundation, we don’t have to, I am more following in my eco-friendly background and supporting eco-friendly products in the beauty industry. I’m also very aware that pageantry is an expensive hobby to have. Something I would love to do once I have the crown is set up an organisation to help women get into pageantry, and get a network of people who want to support and help women get into pageantry, who might feel they can’t afford it. I want it to be accessible to everyone. It can really help women get through things, having that support. Something I’d also love to do is run workshops for girls, they might not end up doing pageantry but they might learn some tips on how to care for themselves or something that might inspire them to help organisations they’re passionate about.

Do you have any advice for women in pageantry?
Do your research. Find a pageant that has the same morals that you stand for. Source help in your community, find small businesses that are willing to help, and make sure you give back to them Work with what you’ve got and who you are, and be yourself. Have fun!

Find out more about Mikaela's journey through pageantry here!

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