Meet Ms Lancashire: the Chorley mum hoping to be a role model for girls
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33 year old Kirsty Mellet says she entered the competition to be a role model for her daughters and to promote body positivity and acceptance, after years of struggling with her own.
Officially titled, UK's National Ms Lancashire, it is part of the UK's National Miss Pageant, which began in 2020, during the initial lockdown, when its founder, Holly Pirrie decided she wanted to start a competition with all the glamour of your usual pageant, but with extra team-building activities and inclusivity.
Kirsty, who is a stay-at-home mum, said: "I got approached to do it and I thought no way because I used to be a bit embarrassed but then I thought it would help people. For years I’ve struggled with body dysmorphia and had really low self esteem and tried to change my looks to fit in but since hitting 30, I 've had more of an acceptance and especially with three girls, my eldest being on social media, I just thought I need to change my mindset and change how they see me, because they’ve heard me so many times say ‘eugh i’ve put weight on’, and things like that, so with lockdown and everything, I thought I need to do a challenge like this.
"I'm still on a journey with it because I keep thinking why have they chosen me, so I just want to give a message to so many young girls, with filters and this idea of perfection, that it's not all about that. Ms Lancashire is so inclusive as well, so it doesn’t matter about any disabilities, your age, your weight, you race, and I think that's what drew me to it, I just loved the message it gives, and everybody seem really empowering for each other, when I’ve spoken to other girls who are competing, it doesn't feel like there’s a competition between you, it’s so nice and refreshing."
Kirsty who lives with her partner David, and her daughters, Leila, 12, Indie, 6 and 3 year old Summer, adds that inspiring her daughters is not her only motivation for entering the competition.
Kirsty explained: "I also suffer from fibromyalgia, a chronic pain so sometimes I struggle to even open my hand, and its a widespread pain so I can get it everywhere, and I have so many people say to me ‘but you don’t look poorly’ and that’s another thing that annoys me because I think you just don't know what someone's going through, so I really want to create awareness of that because there so many people who are suffering each day."
In order to enter the UK's National Ms competition, Kirsty first had to send in a video, introducing herself and explaining why she thought she was the right person to be crowned, and then once through to the semi-final, she had to do another video link, talking about what she would do with the title.
It was only when Kirtsy got through to the grand final that she found out via letter, what her regional title actually was, and she was shocked at the result.
She explained: "There’s so many divisions, and I thought I was just going to get Ms Chorley so when they said Ms Lancashire I was so nervous. I've seen so many cruel comments online and that was my only worry, but I'm always down on myself in that kind of way so I decided I'm doing it for other girls, to make them feel good, and also for the mums, because sometimes it feels like we've lost our identity as well, but also to support Lancashire!"
Kirsty adds that being crowned Ms Lancashire has provided her with a platform to talk about body positivity and invisible disabilities, but she also wants to use it to promote local charities and businesses, which she hopes to do in the run up to the finals on July 1 and 2.
Kirsty explained: "It's just a case of doing few appearances, I've read articles on people struggling at the minute with the £20 universal cut and how families are suffering, so I’m also trying to get together some people who will donate stuff, like for a women's refuge or something. I am a giver, and the competition's making me feel more confident so instead of just approaching companies saying I’d love to help, I feel like they’ll listen to me a bit more.
"It's all so new to me and I'm just thinking about a path that I want to go down, but I definitely want to help these young girls, because living inside your own head, having such a poor self-esteem, has really tortured me my whole life, and I'm especially doing it for my girls, I don't want them to be like me."
The organisers will soon create a profile for Kirsty on their main page, so members of the public can vote for their favourite contestants, and Kirsty added "so I obviously need Lancashaire's support!"
Kirsty is competing in the UK's National Ms competition for women aged 30-44, but there is also a Miss competition for those between 20-29, a Classic Ms for 45 plus, as well as a Teen and Junior Miss competition too.
All age divisions will compete in a two day final in July, with the first being a confidence building day that includes workshops, team building exercises and a 'pj party', and then on the second, contestants have rehearsals, interviews with judges and then take to the stage to compete in three rounds- sports wear, fashion wear and evening wear.
In terms of the final, their website says: "UK’s National Miss breaks many pageant stereotypes; we know that beauty is completely subjective, and this is not about being ‘the prettiest girl’…. as everyone finds different qualities attractive and so, who can define that?! Rather, our judges are looking for a winner who will be an outstanding representative for all of our contestants – someone who will represent our organisation with pride & who lights up a room with her personality and ambition."
Kirsty added: "I am excited for the finals, eventhough I am nervous, because I've never done anything like this before. I feel out of my comfort zone but I think, like a lot of people in lockdown, I just thought I've got to say yes to more things, especially because I do have anxiety as well, I love staying at home, so I just wanted to push myself a little bit more!"
Winners of any of the titles will received a custom-designed rhinestone crown, rhinestone-studded banner, and a national trophy, as well as a Queens Retreat in a glamourous hotel, £500 to spend at The Dress Studio, an illustration of themselves, an official photoshoot, and a range of Official Pageant Girl gifts and merchandise.
In the meantime, you can follow Kirsty's journey on her Instagram page.