KIERAN ANDREW KHAN
Second runner up in the Miss World Trinidad and Tobago competition, Tishanna Mitchell believes pageants have a higher purpose, especially in a world that is seeing increasing levels of self-esteem and mental health issues in young persons. Though she didn’t take the title and the crown, what she came away with was perhaps even more valuable for the 24-year psychology student.
Residing in St Augustine as an only child, she spent extra time away from studies with her dad assisting in the Wayne Mystar Foundation that focuses on child abuse. The decision to enter the pageant was one that she made on the morning of the casting call, given that she not only had a full time job but was also pursuing a Masters in Psychology at the University of the Southern Caribbean.
“I decided to enter not knowing what to truly expect, but I felt as if it was something I had to do,” she recalled. In short order, she was short-listed from the 30 or so other young women who had entered and down to the final ten – and with it came a hectic and gruelling schedule.
“The training was constant and when paired with the social events that we were also committed to attend, it really was a lot to balance with work and school and life, but the Miss World team didn’t just prepare us for a final show, they really prepared us for life after the pageant too,” she noted. We learned a lot and the girls were all amazing to work with – we all got along so well. For me, it ushered in a new chapter of my life, excuse the cliché, where I was able to experience a level of self-development and move past my comfort zone to rewarding life experiences that really helped me become more of the person I wanted to be,” Mitchell recalled.
Faced with the existing pressures of their own lives and the increased scrutiny from the public – she also had another epiphany while training towards the final production. “I realised that many young women, projecting full confidence and beauty inside and out, had so much more to their stories and so much more to say. It really opened my eyes to the impact I could have working with young people in psychology to help them improve their own lives,” she pointed out. “The breakdowns were few but inevitable during the preparation, but also when we would have workshops and sessions, which allowed the girls to open up emotionally, I would come to realise just how resilient my fellow delegates were – how much they had to overcome in their own lives and it made me realise the importance of ensuring that young people have this as an option in their lives. Ultimately, how we treat other people can be improved if we learn how to treat with ourselves first,” she advised.
“There still exists a stigma of going to see a ‘shrink’, but we have to realise that mental health is just as important as physical health. In fact, negative mental health can lead to a downturn in physical health too. But we do need to teach young women – and men – how to express themselves in a productive manner. We have to teach them to accept themselves for who they are too. And pageants play a very important role in helping to achieve this at formative years in the lives of young women too,” she noted.
The delegates were put through various training programmes that culminated in sub-competitions including fitness, talent, modelling and more. They were paired with coaches such as Richard Young for the modelling and pageant aspects, Lisa Ghany for etiquette coaching and Adrian Raymond for interview coaching just to name a few. They were taught how to truly be introspective and search within to help find themselves outwardly and other skill sets such as social media brand creation too. And in the final week, the rehearsals extended the length of the day to get to the show just right.
“Few people would be aware of the time and dedication it takes to compete in a pageant – thinking that it really just is one night. It’s far more than that. And ultimately, it’s about building yourself, your confidence, your brand even, with the goal towards improving your community and your society as a whole too,” the second runner up added. “If we can see the value that pageants bring to the participants then perhaps we can find a way to bring that experience to wider sections of the community – so that they can understand the value of it all. If we can change the perception of pageants then we can definitely add it to the list of things that can help change the paradigms in the country we live in,” she said.
“The truth is,” she ended with, “We are all kings and queens in our own, it just sometimes take a little push for us to believe it.”
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