By Lukman Olabiyi
Ex-beauty queens, experts from various fields and stakeholders recently converged on Lagos to proffer solutions to various challenges mitigating the growth of pageantry industry in Nigeria.
The beauty queens and others analysed various challenges and offered solutions on issues affecting the industry at a conference tagged;’ Pageant Conference 2023’.
The theme for the conference was: “The Future of the Pageant Industry: Grooming the Next Generation of Beauty Queens”.
In her opening remark, the convener of the conference, and a former beauty queen, Winfrey Agbelese, said that the event was designed beyond just grooming aspiring beauty queens, but also creating a pageant hub experience where the industry’s relevant challenges were highlighted and discussed.
She said: “The Pageant Conference 2023 is one of the many great plans and visions that we have at the Pageant Academy with regards to the development of the youth in line with the Sustainable Development Goals 5,8, and 10.
“The idea is to elevate the overall pageant experience, performance and representation of our girls locally and internationally and to create a networking pool where pageant organizers can share their wealth of experience and enlighten the girls on pageant experience while providing an avenue for aspirants to connect and share opportunities.”
Agbelese, a broadcast journalist, said coming under one roof will eliminate stakeholders fighting themselves but encourage fighting together to achieve the collective aim of growing the industry.
“Pageantry literally has a whole lot of potential, but because of unnecessary competition, there is bad blood in the space.
“Negativism, to be precise, is slowly killing the industry and it has definitely made it not to go far as we need it to.
“This conference is literally to have conversations regarding the pageant industry, talk about the issues, the challenges, the plagues of the industry and the possible solutions moving forward,” she said.
She noted that there are a lot of scandals in the industry but insisted that everything great has a good side and a bad side.
“Now, what we are doing is to amplify the great side about the pageant industry. There have been misconceptions. People are talking about how girls literally sell their bodies or do certain things.
“But then again, a woman being proud of how she looks, how she speaks, how she thinks, trying to amplify and make life a better place and also help other people literally is not a bad thing.
“The industry teaches you to poise yourself properly, mentally; it literally prepares you for the world, allow you to speak well; to stand up, to be able to stand in any room or in any country and deliver a compelling statement,” she said.
Agbelese who is the founder of The Pageant Academy, added that beauty queens also go into community services after dropping their crown and that the fact that they are pretty doesn’t mean they are not intelligent.
“I have been involved in several and past projects. We have visited hospitals, orphanage homes and all. These are the things that people need to see and these are things we need to amplify.
“Yes, we look good but that doesn’t mean we don’t have things in our head, doesn’t mean we don’t have projects. We also have things that are close to our heart. So yes, that is the good part and it definitely outweighs the misconceptions,” she said.
Media personality, Morayo Afolabi-Brown, who was among the panelists, said pageantry is not a platform to showcase beauty alone but a platform to impact lives.
“This is a platform to impact lives, develop tourism in the country, share knowledge, experience and help each other grow. Use this platform to find the problem within the industry and create a solution,” she said.
Mrs Omolayo Oyawoye, a child behaviour therapist further advised other pageant enthusiasts and aspirants to be their biggest cheer leader and never let anything pull them away from their passion.
“Let go. Do not be defined by what has happened to you or your childhood. There is more to you than you already know and there is more to you beyond your beauty,” she said.
Others also called for regulation of the industry in order to address the issue of exploitation and abuse of pageant by the beauty pageant organisers.
According to them, issue of quackery, exploitation, lack of unity among stakeholders are having negative effect on the industry and it must be address for the seek of professionalism and ethical practice.
The convener, during the conference also unveiled The pageants Academy Online Masterclass, a general overview of the pageant industry open to people who want to go into the industry as pageants, coaches or investors.
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