If you’ve been reading the blog for a while now, you’ll know that most of the stuff I write here is a combo of makeup, skincare, wonderful things and reflections on empowering myself & others as a twenty-something living in the mess and absurdity of the twenty-first century.
Accordingly, I had a #showerthought this morning – wouldn’t it be totes appropes to interview Miss World New Zealand? I am super proud of my friend Karla de Beer who is beautiful inside & out. She is over in the United States right now to represent New Zealand in the Miss World pageant. We’re all looking forward to watching her slay on stage on the 18th December, and we can watch it over here in NZ & Straya via the Miss World Youtube Channel.
Karla – all your friends & whānau are thinking of you over here in the Southern hemisphere, how does it feel to be hanging out in Washington for Miss World?
The best word for how I’m feeling would be gobsmacked! I am still stunned to find myself representing my country, a country I am so proud to belong to, on the world stage. I watched Miss World growing up and always throught of the girls as worlds apart, yet now I find myself on the same stage. Crazy!
I asked a few pals what they’d want to ask Miss World New Zealand and most of them wanted to understand what drives you – how did you get involved in the pageant and what motivates you to win?
A friend entered me In my first ever pageant, Miss Auckland, last year and at that point I had zero stage experience with pageant or otherwise, and I thought (as many people still do) that pageants are totally superficial and only judge you based on your looks and how well you can strut a bikini!
I went for my initial interview and this belief was turned completely on its head, as I heard about how the entire structure of pageants has changed to be based on charity work and personal growth. I love a challenge and this was way out of my comfort zone, so when I realised what a great opportunity it was to give back, I was sold! The influence you can have as Miss World New Zealand by setting an example to others that charity work is easy and fun, and that we should be doing more of it, is what keeps me going.
There are certainly sceptics out there who think pageants are anti-feminist – what do you think?
Honestly, I used to be one of those people before I became part of the Miss World family. Of all the teams, sports groups and jobs I’ve ever been involved with, this is the single most up-building forum for women who want to improve themselves and be surrounded by like-minded women. The ladies who I have “competed” with (I say that in inverted commas because we compete more with ourselves and become friends and comrades through this process) have been highly intelligent, driven women who have goals and ambitions to be more than simply “beautiful”.
We live in a world that is fascinated with external beauty, look at every magazine, TV show and social media profile and you will see the proof of this. We can either lament and abuse that or use it as a way to gain attention for causes bigger than us, to facilitate change and be positive role models.
Could you say more about Beauty with a Purpose – what is it and what does it mean to you?
Beauty With a Purpose is an initiative Julia Morley created when she took over the Miss World franchise from her late husband. In essence, Beauty With a Purpose is the charity compartment of the pageant, and the essence of modern Miss World itself.
Judging is hugely influenced by what charity and philanthropic work each country’s Miss World has done, and is supplemented with judges’ interviews to get to know you as a person, a month putting you through your paces at the actual pageant, watching how you cope under pressure, with a lack of sleep and with high demands, watching your presence at charity and sponsor events, video documentation of the work you have done during your year as Miss World for your country, as well as fast track events such as sportswoman, top model and talent.
Beauty With a Purpose has raised nearly a billion dollars since it began in 1972, and I am immensely proud to say that I had a hand in making that difference.
I know the Miss World stuff has been a great platform for charity work – tell us more about your involvement with Riding for the Disabled and Ronald McDonald House! I hear you’ve been fundraising up a storm!
I have indeed! As I said before, the charity work is what convinced me that this is something I need to be involved and I have never regretted that decision. NZ Riding for the Disabled is so special to me as I was a horse rider for many years and know the physically and mentally therapeutic qualities that horse riding has. To see non-verbal children speak for the first time, or to see physically weak children manoeuvre around outside their wheelchairs rather than being in them 24/7 is one of the greatest rewards of being involved with NZRDA.
It is often a slow process which takes a lot of helpers, horses and gear and these costs make it a very expensive exercise. NZRDA is very underfunded and many people are not even aware of the resources offered by them, I aim to carve out a concrete place in therapy for this treatment method by improving awareness and funding through the local communities, and in the long run establishing more government funding.
Ronald McDonald House has been my Miss World chosen charity and I have learned so much from the families and children staying at the house. This house is a warm, fun environment where kids can be themselves and forget the worries of the hospital. I have run countless events including cook nights, pamper evenings, pizza & movie nights, clothing drives and more as well as helping raise $40 000 and $20 000 worth of building materials to build a new basketball court.
Getting to know the families has made me realise how lucky i am to be well and healthy, you never know when an accident could happen. And when it does it is important to remember what blessings you do have. At market night, when I brought in clothes families could take for free, one mum said to me, “this is a want for me, not a need. There is someone who needs this more than me.” And I will never forget how sincere and selfless she was even in her time of most need.
What does a day in the life of Miss World New Zealand look like – both when you’re home and when you’re in Washington at the moment?
In general it is non-stop. I like to refer to Miss World as my second full time job! I work 8:30-5 (usually more like 7:30-6) as a Human Resources Trainer,as I have a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Psychology and English, and use almost all my spare time to prepare pageant things, work for sponsors and do my Beauty With a Purpose events. Oh and then I need to fit the gym, boyfriend, family, friends and all the social media that comes along with it all in there somewhere too!
So usually I am up between 5-6 for a workout, have breakfast on the run to work, spend my whole day in a classroom training employees and use my breaks for work admin or calling sponsors, after finishing between 5-6pm I’d be meeting or emailing sponsors, practicing my talent, arranging events and try to fit in a bit of time to myself with friends or boyf, before absolutely crashing into bed at 11 or 12.
Weekends are almost solely owned by my sponsors, McDonald textiles, Eyris Blue Pearl, Union Hair and Brows and Belluccio just to name a few. They offer me incredible support and I try to give back to them as much as I can, which often means big photoshoots, vlogs, appointments, meetings, fittings and the like. It’s always all go, but a lot of fun and I’ve met so many amazing people on the journey.
At the Miss World pageant, your adaptability is definitely tested as we only know the next days’ plans and never all the details. In reality, that is the life of a Miss World, as events often change and you need to make contingency plans. In saying this, our days are always FULL! To give you an idea, in the first three days all roughly 120 girls have learned two full dance numbers, each done a talent audition, a piece-to-camera about our talent, a contestant introduction and a trip to Walmart- what more could you hope for?!
What kind of advice would you give to your younger self and what kind of advice do you think your younger self would give to you now?
This is a tough one! My younger self was pretty go get em and fearless! Baby Karla would probably tell big baby Karla that your fears are all in your head, as much as the knowledge that YOU CAN DO IT is in there too. Choose what you believe wisely. Big baby Karla would tell baby Karla to trust her instincts, as they are very often right.
We know how hectic your schedule is – another friend asked how you balance work and Miss World and commitments in your personal life?
Honestly, sometimes boyf would say often I slip up here. I am fiercely competitive with myself and if I do anything that is not up to my standards I will not easily accept it. So, I find it hard to switch off from work and pageants to focus on those around me at times.
I find that I need to prioritise and be open with loved ones about what is on my schedule. If they are aware it makes saying no to outings and hang outs a teensy bit easier (not much, but a smidge). I also physically have to put my phone away-this one is VERY important! There is nothing that makes people feel as small and unacknowledged as when they try to share a meal or have a conversation with you and you are preoccupied with a virtual world.
It’s something my generation seems to barely think about, but something I found causes more problems than it solves. If I have something to do on Facebook, Instagram or wherever, I set a time limit and when that time is up I turn my attention to my indefinitely more precious family and friends.
Lastly – in the spirit of beauty blogging, what will you be stocking up on in the US and bringing back home – MAC? Nars?
Ohhhh this question! I have a strange obsession with American drugstores and so will most likely come back with an inordinate amount of products from brands we get in New Zealand but pay sky-high prices for.
In saying that, I will most definitely be visiting Sephora (maybe twice… Three times…) and picking up some Nars radiant creamy concealer in ginger (because I am living the natural Doritos-coloured life FAR too much for Custard) a couple of new eyeshadow palettes from Tarte and if my bank account can take the beating, a Becca highlighter!
Thanks so much Karla – good luck, we’ll be cheering you on from over the oceans!
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to jot down my thoughts on pageants and life, Elese. And a huge thank you for the continuous support and love. It truly shines a light on the tougher times ?? Thank you to everyone for reading, I hope I have converted at least one person to pro-Miss World today 🙂 but always keep questioning and keep learning, and remember to pass that knowledge on again.